“Gorgeous countryside hotel with huge valley views, delicious food and deeply comfortable bedrooms”
Rooms come over 3 floors with a lift to whiz you up and down, but the original staircase is rather smart, and you’ll probably use that once your luggage is stowed in your room.
The same crisp style runs throughout. You get white-washed walls, attractive rugs on dark wood floors, pressed white linen on fabulous kingsize beds. Up on the top floor, many of the rooms are built into the eaves with original beams on display. There are shuttered windows to keep you cool, and beautiful shower bathrooms with sparkling white tiles; some have a tub, too.
The biggest difference is size. Some Standard Rooms are quite small, others are quite big. The Superior Rooms are all big and tend to be on the first floor with high ceilings; we'd opt for one of these. The Suite is enormous, its sitting room stretching far enough to incorporate 3 sets of double doors that open onto Juliet balconies at the front of the house; the bedroom here was the master bedroom of the original mansion.
Some rooms have the view, others have four-posters; one has Chinese wallpaper and an ornamental fireplace. Bigger rooms have sofas, all have desks, and free WiFi runs throughout. Some at the top have skylights that flood the rooms with light, and west-facing bathrooms on the top floor have rather good views from the shower. All rooms have air conditioning and complimentary minibars with water, juices and soft drinks; Superior Rooms and the Suite also have tea- and coffee-making facilities.
Breakfast is a feast and you can eat on the terrace in good weather. You get freshly squeezed orange juice, croissants and baguettes, plates of meat and cheese, bowls of fruit and yoghurt. There are also scrambled eggs or omelettes (tortilla de patata) with bacon or txistorra (typical Basque sausage).
There's an informal snack bar for 'quick and easy' lunches and dinners like burgers, cheese and bread, and salads. Handy, because these meals are available daily, and can be taken as rooms service (available between 1pm and 3.30pm, and 7pm until 11pm).
The hotel’s Bailara Restaurant - led by head chef Enrique Fleischmann - arrived in 2013 with a menu offering a seasonal menu of traditional ingredients with a modern twist. We haven’t had the chance to dine here yet, but with dishes like grilled scallops with mash and fried artichoke, and oven-baked peach pie we can wait to pay a visit. The restaurant is generally open for lunch and dinner, although the schedule depends on the season. It’s open daily from July to September; from October to March it’s open Wednesday to Sunday, and between April and June it’s also open on Tuesday nights.
If you want to eat out, there are a couple of simple restaurants in town, and reception can advise. For something a little different, try a local cider house - a Basque speciality - with traditional menus. Alternatively, head to Frontón in Tolosa (10km away), where fantastic ingredients are cooked as simply as possible in search of intense flavours. It’s quite expensive, but worth the money.
If you fancy something really special, nip up to San Sebastián for the night. The city is firmly fixed on Europe’s culinary map and 3 of its restaurants have 3 Michelin stars (Akelarre, Arzak and Martín Berasategui). All are hideously expensive and you have to book well in advance, but you can always drop into the Old Town instead and try some pintxos: think tapas with attitude and much more flair.