Saiaz Getaria

Getaria, The Basque Country, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
A peaceful hotel tucked away in the old streets of this popular seaside town, with ocean views from several rooms
The Basque people love Getaria - whenever you mention it, they break out in nostalgic smiles as if remembering the happiest days of their life. And when you get here, you see why. It’s a cute little place, with a happy vibe and a lovely beach that’s popular with locals at weekends. Potter about and you find a small harbour for local fishing boats, some good restaurants that serve the freshest fish, and a small marina that’s home to a clutch of posh yachts; day trips over to San Sebastián can be arranged.

As for this lovely hotel, it sits on a narrow street at the top of the Old Town, with views to the west of sea and sky. The house dates from the 15th century and was probably a defence of sorts, as several arrow slits survive. Behind its façade of golden stone you find a pretty mix of old and new: mullioned windows, wood and antiques mixed with bright rugs and throws. Prices are great and local staff go the extra mile. There are 19 attractive bedrooms, which all have a warm, homely feel. Some are big, others smaller; several have magnificent sea views (the house stands at the top of a cliff, with waves rolling in below). There’s a big sitting room that looks the right way, plus a terrace where we watched the sun go down with a glass of wine in hand. It's popular with couples, but welcoming to families, too. As for the beach and those excellent restaurants, you won’t have to walk far.

Highs

  • Rooms with sea views are magical, worth splashing out on
  • The Old Town, the cool beach, the fishing boats - there’s lots of character here, and it's a very civilised place to do very little. And the Cristóbal Balenciaga museum is heaven for fashionistas
  • Elkano, one of the Basque region's best restaurants, is only 50 paces from the front door
  • Monte de San Antón (the hill that rolls into the sea; known as the Mouse of Getaria) is a great spot to sit and watch the sun go down
  • Beautiful San Sebastián is only 30 minutes away by car

Lows

  • This is a popular hotel in a popular town - book early
  • Breakfast is the only meal served, and if you don’t eat fish, the choice on local menus will be limited
  • The hotel only has 2 parking spots, and a small charge applies, but you can park for free in a couple of streets close by
  • The one-way system in town can be confusing; follow directions to the hotel explicitly or you may get lost
  • Expect some noise to rise from the narrow street

Best time to go

Summer is hot and lovely; if the sun shines at weekends, the roads and beaches get busy with locals. If you’re flexible with your dates, come in the week and avoid the crowds. Spring is perhaps the nicest time to visit - sunny days and less chance of rain. Autumn and winter are wetter but not cold.

Our top tips

Take a day off from the beach and head inland to discover the Basque Country. Big hills and forested valleys wait. It’s a real surprise - you could be in the Alps. The hills and valleys run west for hundreds of miles, pushing inland about 50 miles deep. They hold an interesting story. Thirty thousand years ago Cro-Magnon spread along this coast, hiding himself away in the valleys. The tough landscape meant people stayed put and didn’t intermarry with passing tribes because no tribes passed by. As a result of this isolation Basque DNA is closer to Cro-Magnon DNA than almost any other group on the planet (the Lapps and Papua New Guineans share this heritage). Cro-Magnon Man was a fine artist and in the hills you’ll find lots of rock art. These days it’s closed to visitors in order to preserve it. However, head south 10km to Zestoa and you’ll find Ekainberri, where they have built a replica of the cave and copied the original art from the Magdalenian period onto its walls. It’s a great way to drop into the history of this mighty land.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 17
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • 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
Room:

Rooms

There are 19 rooms in total. Some face the sea, some face the town, and some are bigger than others. If you want to splash out, take the bigger rooms overlooking the water; if you’re on a budget, try the smaller rooms overlooking the town. All are good value for money.

No 2 rooms are identical, but all are decidedly comfy. This is not a design hotel, but it’s nicely designed. Mirador Double Rooms have a slightly more contemporary feel - airy seaside colours, and chairs looking out to sea. Double Town View Rooms are a touch more traditional, with exposed stone walls or carved wood bedheads. All have rugs on smart wooden floors, pretty fabrics, inticing beds and good linens. Superior Rooms come with a sofa or a four-poster bed. One Junior Suite spreads over 2 floors and has a vast sofa that turns into a vast bed. Several rooms have enormous arched windows to frame the majestic view.

Homely bathrooms do the trick. Most have showers but a few have tubs. They're not cutting-edge contemporary, but they're perfectly good.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast (extra cost) is served overlooking the sea. It’s a help-yourself buffet. You’ll find freshly squeezed orange juice, bowls of fruit, plates of ham and cheese, and baskets of rolls and croissants. You can make your own toast, too.

For other meals, you can eat simply or grandly close by. In the Old Town there are several pintxos bars (similar to tapas, but with more flair), where you can dig into tasty snacks while enjoying a small beer. Down towards the water are restaurants with terraces overlooking the bay. Some are very pricey. Txoko is fairly simple and serves up grilled sardines, for which the town is famous. Kaia is more expensive, but the food is far more elaborate. It's owned by the same people who own Elkano, which is considered one of the best restaurants in the Basque Country. It stands just above the hotel and if you only eat in one restaurant in Getaria, eat here; it’s not madly expensive.

If you spin east 3km you’ll land in Zarautz, a slightly bigger, more modern town; you can follow a coastal path all the way round. There’s a pizza restaurant over there which will deliver to the hotel if you want to stay local. Finally, San Sebastián is about 30 minutes away by car, so you can always nip there for a slap-up dinner at one of its famous eateries. There are 3 Michelin-starred restaurants - Akelarre, Arzak and Martin Berasategui. All are hideously expensive and you'll have to book well in advance

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Potter about in Getaria: drop down to the beach, stop for a drink overlooking the water, then retreat to one of the restaurants for lunch. This is a very lovely place to do very little

  • Don’t miss the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum. Balenciaga, a famous 20th-century fashion designer, grew up here. Christian Dior called him ‘the master of us all’

  • Walk the coastal path east to Zarautz - you’ll share it with joggers and cyclists. Zarautz is a modern town, a little bigger, too, with shops, restaurants, bars and a good beach

  • Climb up Monte de San Antón, the hill beyond the harbour. It’s known as the Mouse of Getaria and you can see all the way across to Biarritz on a good day

  • Visit San Sebastián, a magical city (30 minutes away by car). It has 2 beaches, one for surfers, one for sun worshippers. There’s a statue of Christ on top of the hill, the Old Town for pintxos and beer, and excellent shopping over by the cathedral. It’s also a big gastronomic destination

  • Bilbao is an hour away by car. The Guggenheim Museum is the big draw. Afterwards, follow the river round to the Old Town for a bite to eat

  • Guernica (Gernika), is a hugely symbolic town, a seat of Basque law-making for centuries. Picasso’s eponymous painting may be in Madrid, but a mosaic replica stands close to the ancient parliament - his response to the fascists’ bombing of the town in 1937

  • Pamplona and Biarritz are both close enough for day trips

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

The hotel is child-friendly, with extra beds (small charge) and cots for babies (free), but young kids will need supervision on the sun terrace.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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