SHORT BREAK: San Sebastian hotels

San Sebastian

WITH plenty going on, fabulous food and wine, an airport, and one of the loveliest urban beaches in Spain, San Sebastian is prime autumn weekend break material. Check our our posts on Getting Around, Bar Hopping v. Michelin Restaurants, and the San Sebastian International Film Festival (starting on September 24). All that’s left, is deciding where you will you stay.

If you’re a film buff, arriving for the international film festival, the obvious choice has to be the effortlessly cool Hotel Zinema7, with its library of books on actors and cinema, and rooms dedicated to stars of the screen. Otherwise, check out our list for inspiration. 

THE GRAND DAMES

Hotel Maria Cristina  

Maria Cristina San Sebastian

Like crisp linen, uniformed staff, elegant gardens and a bit of belle époque? This is your place. Despite the outdoor space, views over the river Urumea, and air of otherworldliness, the 5-star hotel stands at the heart of San Sebastian – and it has a central role in the town’s history of tourism. Royalty and celebrities have stayed here throughout the years. If you are visiting during the film festival, you might find it booked up because it’s where the film stars stay. (Late summer rooms from €302). Republica Argentina Kalea, 4; www.hotel-mariacristina.com

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra San Sebastian

You might recognise the hotel because the iconic building stands looking out across La Concha bay and therefore features on lots of promotional material and Instagram feeds. It is 19th century and grand in the classic old-fashioned way, but following a complete overhaul in 2020, not missing any of the necessary mod cons. You can not beat the location. (Late summer rooms from €89). Zubieta, 2; www.hlondres.com

COOL DESIGN, SEA VIEWS

Akelarre

Ambient space, Akelarre hotel, San Sebastian

Stressed and hungry gourmands will love this hotel in hills overlooking the sea, just outside San Sebastian. Firstly, it belongs to, and stands beside, Pedro Subijana’s sublime Akelarre restaurant (a personal favourite), and secondly, it shares the same stunning design, dedication to superb quality, and incomparable classy style. Rooms have the same nothing-but-sea sea views too, with floor to ceiling windows opening onto the Bay of Biscay. (Late summer rooms from €240). Padre Orkolaga Ibilbidea, 56

Hotel Mercure Monte Igueldo

Hotel Monte Igueldo, San Sebastian

As the ‘Monte’ suggests, this 4-star hotel is up a hill, but the good news is that you can use the lovely 20th century funicular railway to get there. Although it first opened in 1912, the design is cool and airy – all very calming, and thanks to the elevated position, the views over La Concha have been described as the ‘most beautiful in the world’. Quite some claim, but after a glass of wine, it’s hard to argue.  (Late summer rooms from €178).  Del Faro Ibilbidea, 134; www.monteigueldo.com

SANSEbay Hotel

SANSEbay Hotel, San Sebastian – on the water’s edge

Everyone has their opinion about which hotel has the best location along La Concha, but SANSEbay is a contender. The contemporary boutique hotel is perched above bobbing boats in the small port by the northwest corner of the Old Town. Splash out for a room with a sea view, as the floor-to-ceiling windows allow spectacular views of said boats and La Concha bay.  (Late summer rooms available from €324). Calle Mari, 21; www.sansebayhotel.com

Lasala Plaza Hotel

Rooftop pool at Lasala Plaza Hotel, San Sebastian

Nothing better than floating in the rooftop pool while admiring the gorgeous vision that is La Concha bay. (Late summer rooms available from €153). Lasala Plaza, 2; www.lasalaplazahotel.com

Hotel Boutique Villa Favorita

Hotel Villa Favorita, San Sebastian

It is a favourite indeed for the confluence of location, classic seaside hotel vibe, comfortable rooms with restful pale grey and white decor, and sea views and all at a price that won’t break the bank. There are a handful of rooms with city views, so specify what you want when booking. (Late summer rooms available from €211) Zubieta Kalea 26; www.hotelvillafavorita.com

A MORE AFFORDABLE TREAT

Okako

Arty Osaka

If you’re looking for something slightly more economical, any extras over and above and room with a bathroom are welcome. This boutique hotel is full of them. Though it’s just a 1-star property, the original artworks, stylishness, and range of amenities make it very special. (Late summer forms from €80). Iztueta 7; www.okakosansebastian.com

Pension Aldamar

Pension Aldamar

More convenient for pintxos than a paddle, the pensión stands at the edge of the old part of San Sebastian by La Bretxa market, close to where the best foodie bars are located. The fact that, aside from a minibar and snacks, no food is available onsite is not a problem in the circumstances. The staff are helpful, the rooms spacious and stylish, and if you do want to go to the beach, you’ll find Zurriola just a block away, and a few minutes’ walk will take you to La Concha.  (Late summer rooms from €86). Aldamar Kalea, 2; www.pensionaldamar.com

Sorrel Downer

Sorrel is a journalist based in Spain who writes for The Guardian, and whose bylines include The Telegraph, The Times, Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Business Life, Business Insider, Reader's Digest, Evening Standard, and the BBC.

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