San Sebastián’s city side beaches and child-friendly dining atmosphere make it a perfect destination for families. From the carousel on La Concha to the Igeldo theme park, the city has more than its fair share of fun for all ages. Some of its hotels have wisened up to the fact and offer a cavalcade of amenities designed to make a family stay more agreeable, whether it’s Petit Prince toiletries just for kids or duplex-style rooms. Here’s our guide to the city lodgings that are best suited to families.
This 69-room family-run hotel is a daring, eco-friendly option on the outskirts of San Sebastián. With a Passivhaus qualification and veggie-based fine dining option Misura, it’s the city’s greenest lodging by far. The interior details are Zen: soft indie music playing in the stylishly lit hallways; floor to ceiling windows in the common areas that cast the Nordic-style furniture in a gorgeous light. From June through September, a striking rooftop pool (with its own bar) is opened for guests’ use. The 69 rooms are spacious and light-filled. Everything is white and light wood, with botanical prints hanging on the walls. The hotel has extra beds as well as interconnecting bedrooms for families.
Hotel Arrizul Congress is located in a tiny side street of Gros, San Sebastián’s laid back neighbourhood across the river from the Old Town. This boutique hotel is a family business, and this family has good taste. Vaguely modern furniture is lifted out of blah-ness with interesting design pieces, like mirrored tables, recovered antiques, stone accents and designer lamps. The hotel’s 46 rooms include two suites and three duplex-style family rooms. Each room has a sitting area, with a comfortable chair, hip mirrored table and a minibar stocked with complimentary water and soft drinks. The star of the room, however, is the bed and the bedding – it’s five-star comfort.
Since its namesake, Queen María Cristina, became the first to cross its threshold in 1912, this Belle Epoque hotel has catered to the crème de la crème of guests. The polished service and palatial vibes are flawless. Of course the hotel checks off necessary facilities, such as a gym and parking access. But there are also bikes that are free for use, and a library stacked high with design, art and food books. All 139 rooms have lovely marble bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling velvet drapes and other regal touches (as well as standard luxury amenities). There are family rooms and interconnecting suites suitable for families with older or younger children. Children get an amenity pack at check-in, too.
Ibaia Et Arramak is the Millennial version of a traditional Spanish pensión. With five rooms and a studio apartment, it only occupies half of a floor. The design details, however, are so elegantly hip they beat even the five-stars in town. Floors are cement, tones are muted and lightbulbs are exposed with retro filaments. It also has what just might be the most fashionable rooms around – a random hanging terrarium, a nook with a custom-fitted collection of preserved moths; even the electric cords are cloaked in a cutesy geometric wooden cover. There is a cot available; and the studio apartment is quite spacious with a couch that can sleep an extra child (and a precious outdoor garden for breathing room).
Legazpi Doce is located in the corner of the Plaza Gipuzkoa, a green oasis in San Sebastián’s agreeably bustling city centre. It’s a lovely spot; leaning out of your balcony, you can see the La Concha bay to the right and the Urumea River to the left. The hotel reflects the local society’s old guard sensibility: practicality that occasionally toes the line. White walls and bedding are accentuated with pops of colour; basic furniture is topped with modern light fixtures or laser cut with trompe l’œil details. The 11 standard rooms are quite small, but the six studios are where the hotel really shines. The six studios are where the hotel really shines, however. They are basically flats, with hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms and a living area, complete with kitchen and enviable views.
If you don’t mind not staying in the old town, this modern hotel is a good accommodation choice, near to one of the city’s less busy beaches. It’s housed in an unassuming building with a lot of beige, a slightly sterile gleaming lobby and otherwise inoffensive corridor carpet punctuated by on-brand strips of red. Rooms are functional and comfortable, with neutral tones broken up by charcoal rugs and more welcome pops of red in scatter cushions on quite surprisingly chic chairs. Large wall-mounted televisions, minibars, espresso machines, robes and slippers come as standard. Cots and prams are available free of charge, with welcome gifts for junior guests provided on arrival.
This baserri, or Basque farmhouse, was renovated by the Petretegi family to round out their cider empire, which already includes a cider house, museum, café and disco. A plain, purple-maroon exterior belies a tastefully decorated and cosy interior. Sagarlore invents and embraces modern Basque farmhouse chic: stone walls, lots of wood, and with a bit of tile and white-painted brick thrown in. The facilities are low-key and minimal, as is to be expected in a ‘rural’ hotel. The most interesting is the outdoor space, which includes a lovely terrace fit for a Basque country home and plenty of green grass. The grounds are spacious and enclosed, safe for kids to play outdoors. Five of the rooms have foldout extra beds.