Astoria7

San Sebastian, The Basque Country, Spain Book from Book from £65 per night

Once a much-loved cinema, now the coolest hotel in town, with a stylish movie theme that runs throughout
It was only fitting that this venerable old cinema, set in a grand city that hosts one of Europe’s big film festivals, should fall into the hands of cinephiles. In transforming it into a gorgeous hotel, the owners have kept the spirit of film alive: you now find Alfred Hitchcock in reception, a magnificent library dedicated to the silver screen, and a different movie star in every bedroom. It’s a seriously cool place, with a groovy bar and a smart restaurant, and even if film isn’t your bag, you’ll love it here.

You’re south of San Sebastián’s cathedral, close to the river and only a 15-minute stroll to the vibrant Old Town and the city’s gorgeous beaches. It’ll take a little longer to get there, though - you pass lots of interesting shops on your way, so expect to succumb to some window shopping. But you’ll potter along happily, getting to know this fabulous city. Back at the hotel, the 102 rooms have a clean, contemporary style, while bathrooms are gorgeous and the DVD library is hard to beat. Not that you’ll linger - there’s too much fun to be had out on the streets.

Highs

  • San Sebastián is the cultural and gastronomic pulse of the Basque Country, a seriously happening place. Don’t miss the September film festival and surfing on Zurriola beach
  • The film theme works really well - authentic, original and far from kitsch
  • The suite is heaven for film buffs, with movie memorabilia, a projector and a large screen
  • The library is set behind walls of glass - beautiful, and full of interest
  • You’re close to the action, but not in the middle of it - a perfect combination

Lows

  • We found the food in the restaurant disappointing, but we're assured a new chef has made improvements and, given the multitude of gourmet hotspots in San Sebastián, you'll probably want to eat out anyway
  • You need to specify when booking if you want a non-smoking room, and only the better rooms have bathrobes
  • It's bigger than most i-escape hotels, but quirky touches mean it feels far from faceless
  • This is a cycle-friendly town, but the hotel doesn’t have bikes for guests to use - a shame

Best time to go

This is a vibrant city, whenever you come. The San Sebastián film festival takes place in mid-September - where else to stay then but here? The July jazz festival is one of Europe’s best. Visit between May and September if you want to make the most of the city's fantastic beaches, but expect rain showers at any time of year.

Our top tips

Like your football? Real Sociedad plays at Anoeta, a 10-minute walk from the front door. If you’re in town over the weekend it’s often possible to get a ticket, though big games sell out in advance. The most important match of the year is against Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao.

Great for...

Beach
City Style
Foodie
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 102
  • Restaurant (open daily for lunch; Thurs-Sat for dinner) and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

Each room pays homage to a different film personality (Tarantino, Ang Lee, Sean Penn, Liv Ullmann), and your own personal star smiles out at you from the wall above the bed. To qualify, the actor or director must have attended San Sebastián’s September film festival. You get several pictures scattered about the room and some text to add a little history; the main image above the bed was taken in San Sebastián. You can also watch your star on celluloid, as each has at least one film in the hotel’s epic DVD library.

Double or twin Standard Rooms aren’t huge, but nor are they tiny, and if you’re in town for a couple of days you’ll be very happy here. Some are bigger than others, but all have space for big leather armchairs, even a sofa every now and then. The gorgeous bathrooms are behind closed doors, with creamy tiles, power showers, and lovely lotions and potions. There’s a desk with an ADSL internet connection, WiFi, and good storage, too. Three of these rooms have been specially adapted for guests in wheelchairs.

Superior Rooms are bigger, though the biggest Standard and the smallest Superior are pretty much the same size. All have iPod docks and sofas which can turn into extra beds. They also have double sinks and white robes in the bathrooms.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast (extra cost) is a help-yourself affair: jugs of fruit juice, sliced pineapple, rolls and toast, cereals and yoghurts. If you want an omelette or a scrambled egg, you can order from the waitress.

The snack bar is open all day, every day. Contemporary in design, it has blond wood, hanging lampshades and windows onto the street; there’s even a small pavement terrace. You can drop in for pintxos (tapas) and a beer all day long. Simple dishes are also available via room service from 8-10.30pm: soup, pasta, grilled rib-eye steak, hamburgers, local cheeses. It’s all reasonably priced.

The hotel’s restaurant is open every day for lunch, then from Thursday to Saturday for dinner. We ate here and thought the food - a mixture of fish dishes, stewed meats and pasta - quite average. Not that this really matters: you’re in the gastronomic capital of Spain, with more Michelin stars per head of population than any other city in the world, so you'll probably want to eat out anyway.

If you want something substantial, you won’t have trouble finding it - food tourism is big business here and people flock to the city's 3 most famous restaurants, each with 3 Michelin stars. Arzak is a place of gastronomic pilgrimage, 3km away across town, while Restaurante Akelarre is 3km west of La Concha beach. Martín Berasategui is a very swish operation 10km outside town.

For something more casual try one of the seafood restaurants around the old port or the many pintxos bars in the Old Town - see our local guide for recommendations. Pintxos is fantastic food served in single portions, often on a slice of baguette. Some dishes are displayed on the bar, others are cooked to order. The tradition is to stop at each bar, drink a small beer, scoff one dish, then move on to the next place. If you don’t eat pintxos in San Sebastián, then you haven’t been to San Sebastián; it’s a great way to spend an evening.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity: La Concha

Activities

  • Spend a day on La Concha, one of the most beautiful beaches you’ll find in the middle of a city. The blue and white sun shades can be hired by the day, the week, the month or the season, and you can potter around to the old port for lunch

  • Want to ride some waves? Then head over to Zurriola beach and surf in the heart of the city. You can hire all the kit at the surf school, and the water is always busy with locals

  • Climb Monte Urgull up to the statue of Christ for big views of the city and coast. Then roll back down into the Old Town for a cooling drink in Plaza de la Constitución

  • Check out the town hall, which was once a casino. Bring your roller skates and blade along the seafront, then sip a coffee above the beach and watch the world pass by

  • Pack up a picnic and take a boat across to Santa Clara, the island in the middle of the bay. Or hire kayaks from the old port and paddle across instead

  • Wander round the western flank of La Concha and find Eduardo Chillida’s Comb of the Winds sculpture. Then take the funicular up to the top of Monte Igueldo - as well as great views, you’ll find a carousel and some bumper cars

  • Check out the cathedral in all its neo-Gothic glory. It’s in the centre of town, surrounded by cool shops

  • San Sebastián is a cultural hub. Highlights include the film festival in September, the classical music festival in August and the legendary jazz festival in July

  • Come in January, the 19th to be precise, for Tamborrada, the feast of San Sebastián. Bands of drummers parade through town making as much noise as possible, but not enough to silence the fireworks that are exploding all around

  • Head west on the motorway and drop in to see the Guggenheim in Bilbao. It’s about an hour by car. While you’re there, head up to Getxo and check out the oldest transport bridge in the world. You can cross it in gondolas, quite some journey

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Festivals
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming

Kids

Children are welcome, but there are no facilities dedicated to kids. Extra beds and baby cots can be added to most rooms, and the Superior Rooms and the suite have sofabeds. Some rooms interconnect.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Location

Astoria7 is located in the city of San Sebastián, in the Basque Country, northern Spain. It's close to the river, and a 15-minute walk from the Old Town and beaches.

By Air
The closest airports are Bilbao (99km away, and 80 minutes by car) and Biarritz (45km away in France, and 45 minutes by car). Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
The hotel can arrange transfers (see Rates). or you can pick up a taxi at the terminal. There are also hourly buses between Bilbao airport and San Sebastián. If you want to tour the area around the city, consider hiring a car and driving (see below).

By Train
San Sebastián has overnight rail connections from Paris and Lisbon, as well as regular services from Barcelona and Madrid. The station is 1.1km (less than 10 minutes by taxi) from the hotel. See the excellent Seat 61 for more information on getting here by train, including travelling overland from the UK.

By Car
For car hire see our car rental recommendations. If you fly into France and hire a car, make sure you are allowed to drive in Spain. Garage parking is available at the hotel for a daily charge (must be reserved in advance).

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.com.

More on [getthere:thebasquecountry:getting to the Basque Country]

Airports:

  • Bilbao Sondica 99.0 km BIO
  • Biarritz 45.0 km BIQ

Other:

  • Beach 1.2 km
  • Shops 0.1 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

7/10
Room
8/10
Food
8/10
Service
7/10
Value
8/10
Overall

Great Wi-Fi and clean rooms with everything we needed.
Breakfast was also very good - lovely fresh orange juice and pastries.
Staff we very friendly and helped me when I left a dress in the wardrobe.
Parking (book in advance) in a large and easy to use car park.
It is a 15-20 minute walk along a lovely canal into the old town but it means that getting to the hotel is easy off the motorway.

9/10,

Hotel was very nice but unfortunately they could not offer a room upgrade

7/10,

We really enjoyed our stay at Astoria 7. No free upgrade as they were fully booked unfortunately but we liked our room nonetheless. Parking was quite expensive at 18 EUR a day but incredibly handy right below the hotel. Breakfast at 15 EUR if pre-booked was excellent - all delicious and plentiful local produce, freshly squeezed orange juice, great coffee.
Location is a bit of a hike from the old town (20-30 minutes walk) but there are lots of frequent buses or taxis.

8/10,

Same fairly short lunch and dinner menu in the restaurant which was a bit limited if eating in. Walk into town may be a little long for some, but there is a city bus stop across the road that works really well. Good bicycle hire service across the road too.

8/10,

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Rates for Astoria7

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