Hotel Gran Bilbao Review: A Spanish Luxury Hotel for the Active Modernist

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Book this spacious, colorful king room with a view at Hotel Gran Bilbao
A spacious, colorful king room with a view. Photo credit: Nicole Radlow

Looking for a more avant-garde yet comfortable hotel stay in Spain’s Basque Country? Then Hotel Gran Bilbao is for you. In a city where the main attraction is the ultra-modern Guggenheim Museum, this 4-star hotel takes contemporary beauty and luxury to a new level – just the thing I wanted for my girlfriend getaway.

My four girlfriends and I visited Basque Country’s top city, Bilbao, and we loved the attention to detail and the modern simplicity of their decor during our stay at the Hotel Gran Bilbao. We chose this hotel because we wanted a modern and artistic experience to inspire our visit to the famous modern Guggenheim Museum in town. While the outside of the hotel was nondescript, we saw the photos of the different art-laden rooms and we knew it was for us!

The front desk service spoke very good English, and the friendly staff were helpful. Check-in went smoothly.  Of course, they also speak Spanish and Basque so you can try out your language skills on them. They showed us to our two different rooms to give us the best experience, and they did not disappoint.

The Hotel Gran Bilbao that is set on a hill, in a safe and quiet neighborhood.
The hotel sits up on a hill in a safe, quiet neighborhood. Photo credit: Hotel Gran Bilbao

About the Hotel Gran Bilbao

The hotel was built by the Segura family, hoteliers from other parts of Spain. They chose to make Bilbao, a historic yet modern Basque city, their passion project in 2009. However, they fell on tough financial times. In 2014, they redesigned the hotel for the active and health-conscious traveler.

While the Hotel Gran Bilbao’s exterior is just an unassuming tower block, the interior decor is quite distinctive, as its walls are adorned with words and stories showcasing the charm and creativity of Bilbao. We found ourselves strolling, observing, and reading, rather than just walking through the hotel.

Located in a quiet residential neighborhood not far from the historic district (called the Casco Viejo or Old Town), this pet-friendly hotel makes it easy to see the most important attractions. It is located right next to the Axturi train station for excellent access to public transport. It’s a great location.

Bring your walking shoes. It’s not too far from the city center and Plaza Nueva so we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go with no problems but you should note that the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is much further away. However, we loved walking along the river as well as to the main shopping area, so if you don’t mind a long walk, you will love this hotel.

Hotel Gran Bilbao's lovely and spacious marble bathroom in our room came with a spa tub.
The lovely and spacious marble bathroom in our room came with a spa tub. Photo credit: Nicole Radlow

Guest Rooms

Each of the Hotel Gran Bilbao’s  202 rooms has its own unique personality. Every room has a different view and brightly colored art behind the bed. It even has neon “love” rooms available for those who are so inclined.

The five of us shared two rooms, one King room and one double room with twins, and they were large enough to fit a rollaway in the twin room to accommodate three. Every detail was done to perfection, from the smooth wood floors to the soft throw rugs to the comfy beds. The sheets were softer than your typical European bed linen, and we all enjoyed cozying in them. The marble bathrooms are also spacious and offer bidets and bath/shower combinations. All rooms have flat-screen TVs.

I think my favorite aspect of the room was the large marble bathroom with a deep and inviting bathtub. We all took turns in the tub, turning on the jets for a full spa experience. Being a bunch of women together, we especially appreciated the large amount of counter space to hold our individual toiletry bags.  

Our Hotel Gran Bilbao’s singular experience left a great impression on all of us. Our rooms had a mountain view and we still talk about the colorful walls in the different rooms and what emotions they evoked in us.  We all agreed we would stay there again.

Hotel Gran Bilbao has an art-laden lobby.
The art-laden lobby of the Hotel Gran Bilbao. Photo credit: Nicole Radlow

A Focus on Health

While a few of us in our group enjoyed Hotel Gran Bilbao’s well-equipped fitness center, others enjoyed the delicious and extensive buffet breakfast that caters to those with food intolerances or alternative dietary needs. This was particularly important to my friend with Celiac disease, as it is often hard for her to find true gluten-free options. All the food offerings were healthy and made with local ingredients in the Basque tradition. Most of us had their tasty and slightly spicy Basque baked eggs with sausages and chorizo and fried potatoes. My gluten-free friend could also eat that breakfast minus the fried potatoes. But there were many other healthy options that a few ate such as yogurt, granola, fruit, and a variety of meats. I’ve rarely seen a breakfast spread like this in a European hotel!

For those who jog or cycle, the hotel offers many recommendations for trails and routes to follow. And secure bike parking is available. It’s fun to ride down the river to the old town. We took the bikes out to ride to the museum (about 12 minutes) and downtown (another 5 minutes). The streets were fairly wide but we chose to ride on the super wide sidewalks with the other cyclists. We did have to go through one 4-way stop before getting to the Old Town that had no vehicle traffic — but overall it was quite easy to ride in Bilbao, especially along the river. And thankfully, it wasn’t too steep of a hill coming back up. It was slightly strenuous but totally doable.

Hotel Gran Bilbao offers a large and plentiful breakfast buffet is included in the room rate.
The large and plentiful breakfast buffet is included in the room rate. Photo credit: Hotel Bilbao

Safety

My friends and I said we’ve rarely felt so safe in a Spanish city. Because this is a well-lived in and less touristy city, there did not seem to be a huge element of crime.

As always, we remained vigilant with our crossbody bags and phones but never felt a real threat. Not even at night as the city streets are well lit.

The hotel itself is in a quiet area with very little hustle and bustle, so we felt safe coming home late at night.

I highly recommend this destination and this hotel for women-only travelers.

Hotel Amenities

Here is a list of Hotel Gran Bilbao’s room amenities:

  • On-site restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Closed on Sundays.
  • Lobby bar/lounge
  • Fitness center with modern equipment
  • Private parking and electric car charging stations
  • Locked bike storage in the car park
  • Free wifi
  • Buffet breakfast available
  • Room service
  • Flat-screen TVs
  • Shuttle service to the Bilbao airport
  • Air conditioning in all room
  • Hair dryer
  • Minibar
  • Vending machines
  • Fire extinguisher

SheBuysTravel Tip: On Sundays, visitors can find open restaurants during the day (brunch is a big deal), but many are closed at night. However, several pintxos (tapas) bars in the Old Town are open Sunday evenings.

Hotel Gran Bilbao Details

The hotel is located at Avenida Indalecio Prieto, 1, 48004, Bilbao, Spain, close to the Axturi tram station, the Basarrate Station, and the Bilbao Abando Train Station. Check-in is at 2 pm and check-out time is noon. They offer a 24-hour cancellation fee and take most credit cards.

Nicole Radlow Avatar
Nicole Radlow is all about travel. Her former career was as a marketing copywriter but now she has turns her mighty “pen” to writing about the ins and outs of traveling. She loves to take trips, write travel articles, and offer other travelers advice on destinations, lodging, and activities.
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