Set in a 19th century neoclassical building standing proud on a corner of San Sebastián’s elegant Centro neighbourhood, Hotel Arbaso Donostia could appear pompous to passers-by. Guests who puncture its glorious facade will instead find lovely, accommodating staff, supremely calm and luxurious spaces and a slew of topnotch treasures: most notably a basement sauna and steam space, beautiful rooms and an exceptional onsite restaurant, Narru, frequently touted as one of the city’s best. Read on for the full review.
Where is Hotel Arbaso Donostia?
Find the spires of the imposing Buen Pastor Cathedral and you’ll find Hotel Arbaso Donostia: it’s right across the street of San Martin Kalea. It’s about 25 minutes from San Sebastián airport, and an exceptionally easy six minute walk from the city’s bus station, which has easy connections to Bilbao and beyond.
What’s near Hotel Arbaso Donostia?
A wonderfully walkable city, all of the sights of San Sebastián (known in local Basque language as Donostia) are easily accessible to Arbaso guests: the labyrinthine Old Town, is a pleasant wander 10 minutes north (San Telmo Museum, dedicated to Basque culture is here, as well as the city’s plethora of bars for Donostia’s emblematic pintxos).
The wide mouth of La Concha, Donostia’s answer to Bondi Beach, is less than 500 metres away.
In calming colours of slate grey and forest greens, the rooms brim with warmth, welcoming you into a space that feels residential and intimate, thanks to a layering of natural textures. The doors opening on Juliet balconies overlooking the city are particularly lovely, especially when the cathedral tower chimes its song and the bed is blissfully soft. IPads for bookings at downstairs fine-diner Narru are in the lounge room and the coffee maker is hidden away with the mini bar.
Now for the room’s clear highlight: the shower. You might think it’s hard to wax lyrical about a shower (how great can a shower be, after all?). As it happens, very good: in the sprawling stone-sheathed bathrooms, the multi-setting shower has a way of enveloping you, not just spraying at you. It’s heaven.
Restaurants and bars
If you pay attention as closely as Narru’s head chef Iñigo Peña clearly does, you’ll see the symbiotic relationship of season and service at this understated restaurant. Attached to Hotel Arbaso’s reception area, the soberly decorated eatery is serious about food and service, without losing any of the crucial conviviality the city has in spades. The deceptively simple dishes are delicious, a gastronomical education on local delicacies and techniques, which staff are only too happy to assist with.
Travel for work
Wi-fi is available in all rooms, as well as generous, full-sized workstations.
Gym and sauna
The hotel’s basement houses the gym, as well as a duo of a steam and sauna room (both of the latter can be booked for private use for guests).
One accessible room is available on-site.
What you need to know
You’ll be tempted to leave the hotel on an empty stomach considering the city’s culinary reputation. Don’t. The breakfast of fruits, cured meats and eggs made-to-order, especially outside on a sunny day, is a glorious way to let the morning unfold.
Best for: A central location
Design: Minimalist chic
Number of rooms: 50
Rates: From $193
Parking: Valet parking available
Address: C/ Hondarribia Kalea, 24, 20005 Donostia, San Sebastián
Phone: +34 843 931 400