Travel - Something for the weekend

loungeThe bar and lounge at NH Collection Aranzazu in San Sebastian


Where to stay: NH Collection Aránzazu

Vitoria-Gasteiz Kalea, 1, 20018 Donostia

Roughly speaking, San Sebastian is split into three district - Ondarreta, Parte Zaharra (the old district) and Gros. Our hotel, the NH Collection San Sebastian Aranzazu was about a five-minute walk away from Ondarreta beach which puts it in a quieter more residential part of town. That does mean that to get to where all the key bars and restaurants requires a 10-minute bus ride, but given that the network's as regular as London Transport and the buses are really cheap, it isn't such a bind.

And it's actually quite nice to retire from the fray to a quieter part of town come bedtime. Also on the plus side, there are some great, non-touristy bars and tapas spots over here which are fun to explore, including the well-rated Vinoteco Bernardina just outside the hotel entrance.


steakIberico steak with peppers at Kukuarri 

The 180 room hotel also has a pretty decent scene going on in the evenings in its Kukuarri restaurant and bar. Far from being a souless hotel spot it was packed with locals most nights, which may have had something to do with a cocktail list devised by top Madrid barman Diego Cabrera. We popped back in for lunch one day as guests of the hotel's chef Martin Aristondo to try a few things off the tasting menu and a la carte and were impressed - Iberico brochette was one of the best bits of steak we'd had in a while and the mini hamburgers of secreto Iberico were also pretty darned good.

This was the second NH hotel we'd stayed in - we were at their Hotel NH Collection Madrid Abascal in Madrid last year - so we already knew that their breakfasts are pretty epic. Make your own vitamin smoothies or go all out with bottomless Cava while balancing that out with everything from Spanish tomato bread to cooked options.

Prices: If you fancied going the first weekend of September, for example, two nights here would set you back just shy of 500 euros with breakfast included. 


Getting to Bilbao and San Sebastian

The closest airport to Azurmendi is Bilbao and it's also the nearest Spanish airport to San Sebastian. 

We flew over with British Airways and personally felt that their flight times worked the best. The 8.30am flight from Heathrow goes most days - easily getting you to Bilbao in time for an early lunch sitting at Azurmendi and if you can't take much time off work, an evening flight at 5.15pm or 8pm would get you back the same day if you wanted. The restaurant itself is only about 15-20 minutes drive from the airport, so it's very easy to get a taxi there and back.

Getting to San Sebastian from Bilbao airport is easy - there are regular coach services going direct from the airport to the city and it takes about an hour and a quarter. If, however you'd like to cross something else off the list head into Bilbao bus station and get the bus from there, as the coach to San Sebastian goes up past the Guggenheim. 

You can, also get to Bilbao by flying into Biarritz which is a slightly shorter journey time into Bilbao although the flight times aren't as good, particularly if you're just coming here for a weekend.

Hot Dinners stayed as guests of NH hotels and enjoyed a discounted fare from British Airways. 


More on San Sebastian and Bilbao

Where to get the best pintxos and tapas in San Sebastian

Trying Azurmendi in Bilbao


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