Ea Astei

Near Guernica, The Basque Country, Spain
Book from GBP Book from £154 per night

Ea Astei

Near Guernica, The Basque Country, Spain

A little bit of heaven in the hills above the coast, with a shimmering pool and a clutch of gorgeous self-catering boltholes for 2-6

A little bit of heaven in the hills above the coast, with a shimmering pool and a clutch of gorgeous self-catering boltholes for 2-6

OK, let’s do away with objective reporting and frankly declare our hand: we had the most marvellous time at Ea Astei. There were two reasons for this. First, the country here is gob-smackingly lovely, with forested hills zooming off for miles and sun-kissed beaches peppering the coast. Then there is Mertxe and Peio, the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet, who welcome you into their small patch of heaven with open arms.

This land is theirs. Peio works above the main house in his project of passion: an innovative design company, making beautiful ecological houses out of glass and wood. They’re exported worldwide, but two stand in the garden for lucky people like us to stay in. Mertxe used to restore antiques, but now potters about making sure everything is ready for your arrival. You either stay in the main traditional Basque-style house (6 apartments of varying size and style, each utterly gorgeous) or immerse yourself in forest and garden (tiny rustic cabin or super-cool grand design). It really doesn’t matter where you end up as long as you end up here. It's ideal for groups of couples, friends, and even better for families. Ea Astei loves kids and kids love Ea Astei. Bilbao and Guernica (Gernika) are close, but you may just spurn them for all those lovely beaches.

Highs

  • The beautiful, peaceful, elevated countryside location; take lovely walks amid vivid green hills and fragrant eucalyptus forests
  • Half a dozen sandy beaches within 10km - some for surfing, some for families, all very rural
  • Cool apartments: choose from gorgeous traditional retreats or slick, modern spaces
  • The swimming pool has a terrace, sauna, hot tub and lovely views
  • Good self-catering kitchens, simple restaurants a short drive away and wonderful local produce at Guernica's market

Lows

  • You’re lost in the hills, so you’ll need a car - if you want to stay closer to the beach consider their sister property Hemingway Riverview Apartments
  • Entire bathrooms behind walls of glass in Vita and Okana won’t be to everyone’s taste
  • The swimming pool gets rather busy in high season, and children always need supervision
  • This is a seriously peaceful spot, but you’ll be aware of other guests during busy periods
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    In the main house, Sabai, Ganbara, Harria and Lurra each have two bedrooms, the latter opening directly onto the lawn. Stilted one-bedroom Garaixe only has space for a baby cot.

    For ample space and style, go for passivehaus apartment Vita (sleeping 6), best for older children, or Okana (sleeping 4), with its private garden. The compact Etxola cabin has a double bedroom and a single sofabed in the lounge.

    Parents should know...

    Supervision is required around the swimming pool. In Vita and Okana, Peio’s beautiful wooden stools are very wobbly for little ones. If your small children can’t be trusted with glass and fine china, you may prefer to bring plastic cups and plates...

  • Heated pool
  • Basketball hoop
  • Foosball
  • Swings and slide
  • Table tennis
  • Feeding the rabbits
  • Ea - a tiny narrow beach in a quaint village - is good for children at low tide (10 minutes away)
  • The painted forest at Kortezubi
  • Surfing lessons
  • Kayak lessons
  • Kitesurfing

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 10 apartments (for 2-6)
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Laundry Service
Room: Cut down for Kids N/L Nov 2018

Rooms

There's a wide range of options - or at least there is if you book early enough. In the main house are 6 traditional apartments (sleeping 2-4) with stone walls, wooden ceilings, terracotta tiles and fine antique furniture; parts are 500 years old. Nearby is a tiny stilted chalet-for-two, Garaixe, in a similar style. Lovers of eco-design will love the two modern apartments in Peio's stunning passivhaus, Okana (sleeps 2-4) and Vita (sleeps 4-6). There’s also a small standalone modern cabin, Etxola (sleeps 2-3).

Among the traditional apartments, we stayed in (and loved) first-floor, open-plan Sabai, with its vast sloped wood ceiling and rustic cross-beams. A sofa sits in front of the wood-burner and a little kitchen nestles in the corner. On a raised platform, the first double bed awaits; the second is in a separate bedroom. We can attest to the apartment’s comfortable beds, powerful shower and overall gorgeousness. Ganbara is great for a small family or 2 couples, as the living space is large and airy, and the bedrooms are separate. Lurra and Harria are situated on the ground floor; the former has direct access to the shared garden, and the latter is the only one to have exposed stone walls. Txoria and Ametsa are romantic boltholes in the eaves, suited to couples after a true hideaway.

Out in the garden, Garaixe, is a romantic stilted 16th-century-style mini-chalet. At 35sq.m, it’s cosy but the ground-floor open-air sitting room adds space in summer (sofas and sweet-pea walls). Upstairs, flowers drip from the balcony window boxes, creating a hidden away feel.

In the modern passivhaus - the first of its kind in Spain - are two huge apartments, constructed almost entirely from glass and wood (including local oak floors), with white-washed walls accented by bold hues and state-of-the-art kitchens. Ground-floor Okana (sleeps 2-4) has a wall of glass doors opening on to a wide dining terrace and garden, with eucalyptus forest beyond. Inside, expect sleek lines, a wood-burner and chic Italian seating. Each of the two smart minimalist bedrooms has a glass-walled ensuite shower. First-floor 3-bedroom Vita (sleeps 4-6) apartment benefits from better views and a wraparound balcony, but lacks a private garden. One bedroom has a round bed; two have bathrooms behind glass.

Finally, 1-bedroom Etxola is a modern cube outside and a cute pine cabin inside. You get a double bedroom, a sitting room that can sleep 1 extra guest, plus a small but cosy kitchen and a tiny terrace.

Features include:

  • Safe box
  • WiFi

Eating

All the apartments have kitchens, plus access to a large stone barbecue by the pool (or a portable Weber barbecue). Sabai, Okana and Vita have built-in ovens and large fridge/freezers. The rest have hobs, microwaves and fridges. All have everything else you need, including china and tea towels.

Several good local restaurants serve traditional Basque food. Arita Berri grills fish and meat served with chips and peppers (1km away, open Friday-Sunday). Elantxobe has one very expensive restaurant, and some cheaper bars (15-minute drive). Pretty Lekeitio has a lovely beach and many port-side pintxos bars (20 minutes). Bermeo’s busy harbour is also great for pintxos bar-hopping (30 minutes’ drive).

For food shopping, the nearest town is Guernica (15 minutes’ drive). There's a good supermarket on the way out of town and the busy Monday market has lots of stalls - but parking takes patience! The market has always been considered a holiday in the town, where locals catch up with friends and lunch out. From June to December it is also held on Saturday. Guernica has several smart restaurants, too. Zallo Barri offers modern Basque cooking (steak with walnut sauce) while Rementxe has great wines.

Features include:

  • Fridge
  • Hob or stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Kick back, relax and enjoy the lovely hill-top heated pool, sauna and hot tub
  • Head to a nearby beach: hire kayaks at pretty Laida or wonder at wide and wild Laga, where big hills drop dramatically into the sea. Surfers will love Mundaka’s serious waves. On weekends locals fill the beaches, but they are much quieter on weekdays
  • Take a picnic to Elantxobe, hike around Cape Ogoño for huge watery views, then head down to the painted forest at Kortezubi
  • Peio designed the Reserva de la Biosfera Urdaibai museum, where you can view colourful displays, changing exhibitions, and spectacular estuary views, with telescopes
  • Visit historic Guernica, a hugely symbolic Basque town. It was bombed in April 1937 by the Luftwaffe on Franco’s request - the first use of saturation bombing on a civilian population. Picasso’s famous Guernica painting, was his response
  • Bermeo is interesting even on a rainy day, with a busy port, waterfront sculptures and lots of pintxos bars (30 minutes)
  • Drive to Bilbao is (less than 40 minutes): explore the Guggenheim museum, get a bite to eat in the Old Town and head up to Getxo’s lovely beach. If you have time, take a gondola across Vizcaya Bridge, the oldest transport bridge in the world
  • Head east to Getaria, an atmospheric working port, for grilled sardines overlooking the beach, then explore the sleek Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum
  • Don’t miss San Sebastián, the loveliest city in the north, and a foodie mecca

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis

Best Time to go

The Basque Country has a mild year-round climate, but it is the cloudiest region of Spain and prone to rainfall. The upside of this, though, is its lush green landscape. Spring, from March onwards, is the nicest time to visit - sunny days and less chance of rain. Summer is hot and lovely, though the towns can get very busy with tourists during July and August. Autumn and winter are wetter but not cold: September is still pleasant.

Our Top Tips

Discover why Basque food is world renowned. Head to seaside bars to taste freshly caught fish. At working ports like Getaria, you can watch the catch come in and then see it grilled over a wood fire. Pintxos is everywhere, from Bermeo's string of port-side bars to the Laida beach cafe. Expect cured hams, Idiazabal sheep cheese, or cod in piquant sauce piled up on sliced bread. Don't forget to sample the Txakoli wine and be sure to ask Mertxe about local food producers: the area is known for its cheese, cider and honey.
Kid Friendly:

Location

Ea Astei is near Natxitua in the mountains, between Guernica (11km) and Lekeitio, in northern Spain's Basque region. It is 45km from Bilbao and 103km from San Sebastián.

By Air
The closest airports are Bilbao (45km / 40-minute drive) and Biarritz, in France (120km / 1.5 hours' drive).

From the Airport
From Bilbao you can take a taxi, but we recommend hiring a car. If you fly into France and hire a car, make sure you are allowed to drive in Spain.

By Boat
Brittany Ferries sails from Portsmouth to Bilbao (24-hour journey), early booking is recommended. You can also sail from Plymouth or Portsmouth to Santander (103km from Bilbao).

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

More on Getting to the Basque Country

Airports:

  • Bilbao Sondica 45.0 km BIO
  • Biarritz Parme 120.0 km BIQ

Other:

  • Beach 5.0 km
  • Shops 10.0 km
  • Restaurant 5.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
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