Hotel Maria Cristina Review: Experience the Ultimate Luxury in San Sebastian, Spain 

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Hotel Maria Cristina Review - Classic exterior of Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian, Spain
The classic exterior of Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian, Spain. Photo credit: Marriott Luxury Collection

The writer was hosted.

Did you ever want to stay at a palace fit for a queen? Enjoy the luxury and be pampered at a 5-star hotel?

At the elegant Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel by Marriott in San Sebastian, that’s just the feeling you’ll get. Named after the popular Spanish queen who ruled from 1879 – 1885, the hotel opened in 1912. The queen herself had a part in the building’s design and construction and added some of the hotel’s gracious touches.

On Inauguration Day, the Queen arrived in a stylish carriage with her lady-in-waiting, welcoming the world to this distinguished property.

Since the hotel opened in San Sebastian, the 136-room deluxe Maria Cristina has hosted international dignitaries, royalty, and members of high society in San Sebastian.

Located less than a mile from Old Town, the Hotel Maria Cristina is like an oasis in the middle of the bustling city.

I had an opportunity to be treated like royalty at the Hotel Maria Cristina and was thrilled to know it’s considered one of the best hotels in San Sebastian.

An opulent design coupled with a gracious atmosphere, outstanding service, over-the-top cuisine, and attention to detail made for an inspiring stay at this Marriott Luxury Collection Hotel.

Imagine yourself standing at the top of the stairway and winding your way down ready for a night at the opera during the Belle Epoque. That’s the feeling I had as I waltzed down the staircase at this beautiful hotel.   

Hotel Maria Cristina Review - Gracious lobby of the Hotel Maria Cristina
The gracious lobby of the Hotel Maria Cristina. Photo credit: Marriott Luxury Hotel Collection

Situated right next to the River Urumea and overlooking the Victoria Eugenia Theater,  the hotel has a great location less than a mile from Old Town with easy access to all of the popular tourist sites.

Hotel Maria Cristina Review - Luxury accommodations at the Hotel Maria Cristina
Luxury accommodations at the Hotel Maria Cristina. Photo credit: Marriott Luxury Hotel Collection

Accommodations Fit for a Queen

Let’s start with the spacious rooms with decor that blends classic with contemporary furnishings, beautiful chandeliers, and marble bathrooms.

Did I mention the cushy linens that made my bed such a welcome destination after a day of seeing the San Sebastian sites? Just sumptuous! With a variety of suites and guest rooms to choose from, the hotel will more than exceed your expectations. Other amenities offered to guests of the Hotel Maria Cristina include: free in-room wifi, plush robes, and slippers along with optional dry cleaning/laundry/ironing services.

Hotel Maria Cristina Review - Bette Davis Suite
Bette Davis Suite. Photo credit: Marriott Luxury Hotel Collection

Here’s why the Hotel Maria Cristina is such an excellent hotel for travelers:

  • Ideal location in the heart of San Sebastian
  • Transportation from the airport
  • Fitness center with workout room and gym
  • Free wifi 
  • Pet-friendly accommodations
  • Express check-in/check-out
  • Professional concierge service
  • On-site restaurant
  • Babysitting/child care (at an additional charge)
  • Valet parking 
  • Business center 
  • Complimentary bicycle rental 

If you’re traveling with family, the hotel offers a variety of multi-bedroom suites with connecting rooms and other options to accommodate your group.

Many celebrities prefer the Maria Cristina Hotel during the yearly San Sebastian Film Festival, held in September each year. Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Bette Davis, Richard Gere, and Susan Sarandon were just a few of the A-listers who were guests.

In fact, you can actually stay in the Bette Davis suite. The Bette Davis Suite is just what you’d expect for a Hollywood legend. The hallway is lined with photographs of the actress, a lounge, a bedroom, and a bathroom. If you have children in tow, a second bedroom and bathroom can be adjoined. Bette Davis actually stayed in this suite when was honored at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1989 – one of her last public appearances.

The 29 luxury suites at the exclusive Hotel Maria Cristina, are designed in a Belle Époque style which provides guests with maximum comfort along with beautiful river views. The suites’ contemporary decoration features marble fireplaces, glass lamps, and velvet turquoise armchairs to create an air of elegance. The air-conditioned rooms include a flat-screen satellite TV and free wifi. Family rooms and interconnecting suites are suitable for both families with older and younger children.

Dine Divine in the Hotel Maria Cristina

The Hotel Maria Cristina offers a variety of epicurean dining options. I indulged in the breakfast buffet and was energized by the excellent selection of fresh fruit, smoked salmon, and a wide variety of hot dishes, muffins, and made-to-order omelets, all in an atmosphere of gracious dining and overlooking garden views.

My server told me all of the breads, cakes, and fruit pastries are freshly baked in-house each morning.

Hotel Maria Cristina Review - Dry Bar with beautiful blue furnishings and flooring
Dry Bar with beautiful blue furnishings and flooring. Photo credit: Marriott Luxury Hotel Collection

From the bar…

Sip a masterfully crafted cocktail at Dry Bar, which is anything but dry. Thanks to a cocktails selection that has been curated by Spanish mixologist Javier Delas Muelas, Dry Bar is considered the destination for the best cocktails in San Sebastian.  Dry Bar serves afternoon tea, classic and signature cocktails, and a wide variety of the traditional Basque pintxos.

The Hotel Maria Cristina’s main restaurant, Cafe Saigon, offers tantalizing Asian cuisine for lunch and dinner. Yes, you’re in Basque Country and may feel compelled to be enjoying Basque cuisine, but Cafe Saigon offers a delicious change for those with an international palate.

While I didn’t have a chance to dine there, I did glance at their menu and found the offerings to have selections from Vietnam, Japan, and Indochina. Try their Vietnamese Tasting Menu for the best of everything Asian. Their Peking-style duck is legendary, followed by their squid and prawns.

If you prefer the quiet of your elegant room, you can always order room service.

Hotel Maria Cristina Review - Pintxos
Pintxos are lined up for your selection. Photo credit: Mira Temkin

Around the Hotel

Located near the Hotel Maria Cristina are many pintxos bars where you can try these unique Basque Country appetizers. Pintxos, known as tapas throughout the rest of Spain,  are delicious little treats made of meats, cheese, and vegetables on a piece of bread, held together with a toothpick.

The tradition in San Sebastian is to enjoy a few pintxos with a glass of Txakoli white wine at one bar and then hop on over to another pintxos bar for more.

Hotel Maria Cristina Review - La Concha Beach
La Concha Beach is shaped like a shell. Photo credit: Mira Temkin

The Hotel Maria Cristina is just steps away from Old Town and the iconic La Concha Beach, considered the best beach in San Sebastian, Spain, and maybe the world. If you like to surf or just watch, Zurriola Beach is known for its outstanding waves.

Hotel Maria Cristina Review - Local fare in the Old Market
Local fare in the Old Market. Photo credit: Mira Temkin

Be sure to visit the market in the Old City where the locals shop. You’re sure to enjoy all of the goods and find some great olive oil, wine, and candies to bring home.

The Hotel Maria Cristina can also help you plan a day excursion to nearby Biarritz, a charming French Basque Country city.

Nearby Airports to San Sebastian 

The Hotel Maria Cristina is a 20-minute drive from the San Sebastian Airport. The Bilbao Airport is 63 miles west, a little over an hour’s drive.

With more than 20 years of travel writing under her bling-y belt, Mira Temkin understands the expectations of the leisure traveler and writes to those expectations. From destinations to tours to cruises and luxury resorts, her articles cover the world: across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Central America, South America and Europe. She is a proud member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and past member of the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). Mira always has her bags packed and is ready to go! You can read her other travel stories at miratemkintravel.com.
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