Arima Hotel, San Sebastián, Spain

This trailblazing contemporary design hotel blends into the landscape in a leafy suburb of San Sebastián and is paving the way for a new generation of green hotels in Spain.

What's the first thing that pops into your head when you think of San Sebastián? A sandy beach, pintxos bars, or perhaps the film festival?

How about cutting-edge architecture and impressive eco credentials with a backdrop of luscious green forest?

Step forward Arima, a trailblazing contemporary design hotel that blends into the landscape in a leafy suburb of San Sebastián. The first of its kind in Spain, Arima is paving the way for a new generation of eco-hotels, placing sustainability at its heart of everything from its eye-catching aluminium shell to the nifty recycling drawers in the bedrooms.

Nestled among trees in the Miramón Forest, this bucolic haven is just a 15-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of the city. With a focus on naturalness and wellbeing, guests can unwind in the state-of-the-art spa, stretch out at rooftop yoga, work up a sweat in the snazzy gym or borrow some walking poles for a ramble through the forest.

We felt "well" just by being in this tranquil locale and spent most of the time lounging by the rooftop pool slurping botanical cocktails. We like to think of it as conserving energy, much like Arima, who has slashed its consumption to a fraction of its peers.


Muted tones and pared-back decor give rooms at Arima a minimalist Scandi feel. Wood, stone, iron and natural fabrics create a calming atmosphere, while hi-tech lighting systems are reminiscent of Japan (just try to resist pressing every single button on that keypad).

Clever insulation, triple-glazed windows and the outer aluminium tiles keep rooms cool in summer and warm in winter, and it's collected rainwater that fills your loo. Beds are monstrously large and equally comfortable - if you're feeling flush, book a terrace suite for a voyeuristic balcony with views of the surrounding forest and rooftop pool.

What's for breakfast?

Don't be fooled into thinking that the hotel's dedication to all things green means you're going to be presented with a miserly kale juice come breakfast. Oh no. The most bountiful spread of organic local produce and freshly baked breads and sweet treats awaits. Tuck into Iberico pork, nutty cheeses, an overflowing fruit bowl, yoghurts, jam, honey, grains and cereals - and then order your favourite eggs or vegan hot plate a la carte.

How about lunch and dinner?

At lunchtime, soak up the sun on the expansive terrace but for dinner you'll want to reserve a table at industrial-chic Misura, a destination in itself. Here, a glass wall allows diners to see chefs at work in the kitchen, deftly whipping up local, organic and seasonal produce into the prettiest of plates.

Proudly catering to "carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, omnivores, gluten intolerants, ovo-lactos..." (we're not sure on that one either) this self-professed "healthy restaurant" could easily be one of those trendy spots where style triumphs over substance. But innovative tasting menus involving the likes of charcoal-grilled octopus with smoked yolk, aubergine stewed in white miso and the best gazpacho we've ever tasted show it's anything but.

Is there a bar?

Yes, the rooftop one wins heads down (head up there for sunset) though the terrace beside the restaurant also makes an excellent place for a digestif - the attentive maître d' has a particularly good stock of whisky and will keep you well lubricated.


Rooftop pool, spa, gym, free WiFi and parking.

Within a short walk I can find

Plenty of forest trails - pack a picnic, ask reception for their recommended route and spend an afternoon drinking in the fresh air (washed down with a cold txacoli white).

The bus stop is also just a two-minute walk away, and will get you into the town centre in 15 minutes.

Things I should know

If you're looking to stay in the thick of it in San Sebastián proper, this is not the place for you.