In 1997 Frank Gehry’s groundbreaking Guggenheim Museum Bilbao put this Basque Country city on the map. Fast forward 20 years and this Spanish port offers much more to see, do and eat. Whether your style is more golden brocade or exposed brick, the city has a hotel perfect for you.

Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao

Gran Hotel Domine undoubtedly wears the crown of Bilbao’s grande dame – a title that has much to do with its lavish refurb, courtesy of designer Javier Mariscal. Its glass exterior, mirrored panels and central atrium mirror the curvatures of the neighbouring Guggenheim. The hotel’s interiors are sparse and modern, underpinned by a heavy helping of contemporary art all by Mariscal himself. Languid breakfasts should be taken on the roof terrace, where everything from chia seed pudding to Idiazabal cheese are to be devoured while enjoying arguably the best view in the city.

Pro tip: Of the 145 rooms, only 54 have the enviable vista of the Guggenheim next door. While these will cost you extra, the views are worth it.

Caravan Cinema Hotel

Toeing the line between kitsch and tacky, Caravan Cinema is a fusion of design and history. The 200-year-old building houses only 11 bedrooms, each an individual love letter to a famed filmmaker such as Spaniard Alex de la Iglesia and all-American stars including Alfred Hitchcock. The effect is whimsical, eclectic and thoroughly vintage. Choose your dreamscape wisely, as you’ll find the entire filmography of the chosen director available on your smart television. With its retro 50s style and nods to the director’s biggest hits (hint: The Birds), the Alfred Hitchcock apartment is perfectly charming – plus, with a kitted-out kitchen and washing machine, it’s perfect for groups staying in Bilbao for longer than a weekend.

Pro tip: Caravan Cinema Hotel doesn’t have any dining facilities but it does have a great deal with a nearby bakery so that you can pick up a coffee and croissant, or toast and orange juice for €3.50.

Basque Boutique

This Bilbao lodging is nestled between a handful of pintxo bars, Europe’s biggest covered market and the river Nervion. As with most hotels containing the word “boutique” in their name, it’s cool and quirky. Exposed-brick walls and wooden floorboards bring a sense of Brooklyn to the rooms, albeit with a distinct Basque Country edge in the form of art-cum-furniture inspired by local folklore, coupled with an abundance of raw-wood furnishings that make reference to the city’s famous forests. Basque Boutique is rough around the edges in the best way possible and, while you won’t find a sleek, glossy lobby, you will find board games and as a rack of clothes for grown-up dress-up.

Pro tip: Resist the allure of the pintxos bars and head for dinner at Mina, one of Bilbao’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Book in advance to spare any disappointment.

Hotel Miró

Gran Hotel Domine’s older sister may be little but she packs a punch. First opened in 2002, Hotel Miró is the oldest boutique hotel in the city, and yet remains one of the coolest. In a city where design comes first and foremost, it is expectedly chic; fashion designer Antonio Miró’s trademark manifests in the guest rooms as museum-white walls splattered with pops of colour, while the lobby’s local black Marquina marble does much to up hotel’s luxe factor. A believer in the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, the Brown Bread Bag turns breakfast into a culinary experience, dishing up 100 per cent local, seasonal produce for a wholesome start to the day.

Pro tip: Health bloggers flock to Hotel Miró for its emphasis on wellness. Book in at the spa to enjoy the hammam, hydro-massage shower, whirlpool tub and the on-call masseuse.

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