Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian
Inaugurated in 1912 by its namesake, the Spanish regent Maria Cristina, this belle epoque landmark has welcomed international elite to its gilded halls from day one. Designed by the same architect behind the Ritz in Paris, the hotel has long been a favorite of celebrities during the San Sebastián Film Festival (Bette Davis was, notably, a fan). A $25 million renovation in 2012 only cemented its status as the city’s most luxurious hotel. With three of the city’s most elegant eateries (including a favorite see-and-be-seen bar), panoramic views of iconic belle epoque buildings and the Urumea River from the many terraces, and signature Luxury Collection concierge service, the Maria Cristina still feels fit for the aristocracy who frequented it in the city’s beach-destination heyday. Spacious and decadent rooms with an updated belle epoque style, as well as a central location within walking distance of many of San Sebastián’s Michelin-starred restaurants, only sweeten the deal.
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Located right on the Urumea River at the leafy De Okendo Plaza, the Hotel Maria Cristina has picturesque views from every window, plus some of the city’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment just out the front door. The Victoria Eugenia Theater, home to the city’s famous jazz and film festivals, as well as an underground nightclub, is just across the plaza, and the Kursaal Congressional Palace, which also hosts many cultural events, is just across the river. The trendy Koh Tao café and bar is around the corner, two beaches are within walking distance, and the myriad renowned pintxo bars of the Old Town, such as La Cuchara de San Telmo and Txepetxa, are just a few streets away.
Need to Know
Rooms: 136 rooms, 29 suites. From $390. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Start the day off right with the most decadent gourmet breakfast in San Sebastián amid the drapes, columns, and gilded chandeliers of Easo Restaurant—the ample buffet spread is legendary. The Asian-fusion Café Saigon serves lunch and dinner amid Indochine-inspired decor and on a breezy terrace overlooking the square; with its white tablecloths and inventive cuisine, it’s a popular spot for business lunches. Dry Bar is the hotel’s crowning glory, an atmospheric art deco lounge run by cocktail master Javier de la Muelas. The bar’s all-day cocktails and bites, leafy terrace, and trendy scene make it one of the gastronomic city’s favorite establishments. Spa and gym details: The hotel has no spa, but it does have a small, bright fitness center outfitted with modern equipment. The anything-you-need concierge can arrange for nearby golf, tennis, horseback riding, yachting, fishing, and surfing.
Who's it best for: Luxury lovers with a sense of history. Our favorite rooms: All rooms are an elegant blend of belle epoque touches and modern style, but the expansive Terrace Suites add French doors that open onto private furnished terraces with panoramic views of the city’s rooftops and the Urumea River. On the pintxo trail: No one comes to San Sebastián these days without making the most of the city’s world-famous cuisine, and the Hotel Maria Cristina takes it a step further with San Sebastián Food, its own gourmet shop stocked with Basque and Spanish specialty products. The shop also offers culinary master classes as well as its signature Pintxos Passport, made for exploring the city’s top pintxo bars.