City Guide: San Sebastián, Spain

Whether it's your first sip of fizzy txakoli wine or umpteenth viewing of La Concha beach, San Sebastián never falters. Located on the coast of the Basque Country region of Spain, this malleable plain is divided into three beaches, each drawing a diverse crowd: La Zurriola is populated by young people and surfer types, La Concha by tourists and Ondarreta is popular among local families.

Bountiful beaches aside, San Sebastián's main draw is its food and drink (a good thing, considering that it rains over 200 days a year). Served in standing-room-only bars across the city, pintxos - the Basque Country's version of tapas - are San Sebastián's signature dish. Bounce from bar to bar, pairing small bites with local wines, ciders and digestifs. If in need of an activity in between meals, the city's booming festival scene is sure to entertain. Prepare for a packed calendar in the summer months - July brings a beachside jazz fest, August offers up the Semana Grande fireworks and September beckons an international film festival.

Blessed with an alluring coastline and diverse cultural offering, Spain's culinary capital is sure to whet your appetite.

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Hotel María Cristina

San Sebastián, Spain

Since the eponymous Queen María Cristina crossed its threshold in 1912, this belle-époque hotel has emoted a distinctly palatial vibe. Original stained-glass windows and wrought-iron balustrades provide a perfect foil to contemporary touches. Modern-day monarchs (read: A-list celebrities) frequent in summer months to stay in one of the hotel’s beautifully renovated rooms and try out the on-site Michelin-star pop-up. Regardless of season, a pre-pintxos drink in the hotel’s DRY bar is a must.

Address

República Argentina Kalea 4

hotel

SANSEbay Hotel

San Sebastián, Spain

Fresh blood in the Old Town, SANSEbay’s 17 rooms are a sight to behold. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out on the beautiful port and La Concha bay – the most coveted postcard cover on the Basque coast – and beds are voluptuous. Head here for the atmospheric bustle of streetlife on your doorstep and the sea breeze on your balcony.

Address

Mari Kalea 21

hotel

Ibaia et Arramak

San Sebastián, Spain

Located on the river (“ibaia” in Basque), this hotel is the millennial version of a traditional Spanish casa. The guesthouse is luxury-meets-minalism, with an air of Dalston to it. Trumping every five-star hotel in the design stakes, the floors are cement, the lightbulbs are exposed and the price is better than you’d expect.

Address

Larramendi Kalea 2

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Tabakalera One Shot

San Sebastián, Spain

The One Shot Tabakalera House is the only hotel in San Sebastián’s for-locals-only neighbourhood of Egia. Integrated into the Tabakalera – a former cigarette factory-turned-cultural centre – the hotel is right next to the city’s bus and train stations. Rooms are well appointed with cement floors and metal complements. High ceilings make rooms feel spacious and the beds are a dreamy level of comfortable.

Address

Mandasko Dukearen Pasealekua 52