A 19th-century private estate just outside San Sebastián’s city center, Villa Soro was commissioned by a wealthy businessman as a wedding gift for his daughter; it was designed by the same architect who built the iconic Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, which towers over the La Concha waterfront at the city center. In contrast to that classic belle epoque building, the villa takes its inspiration from English architecture—complete with peaked roofs and faux-Tudor beaming—that was in vogue at the time, while the manicured gardens were designed by renowned Romantic landscape designer Pierre Ducasse.
Now an intimate, 25-room boutique hotel, Villa Soro maintains the same relaxed, cozy atmosphere one might expect to find at a friend’s estate, complete with two elegant drawing rooms outfitted with armchairs that beg to be curled up in with a book. The dark-wood-and-leather bar room (complete with a fireplace, of course) beckons visitors with vermouth and txakoli. Rooms are homey and classically elegant, spread between the main house and the restored carriage house, and they make for a romantic retreat within walking distance of the city’s sights and Michelin-starred restaurants.
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Set back from a leafy grand boulevard, Villa Soro is hidden away in a residential area on the edge of the Alto de Miracruz neighborhood, a scenic 20-minute walk or five-minute cab ride from the city’s historic center. There’s little in the immediate area—except the world-renowned Arzak restaurant and Monte Ulia, a scenic hiking destination—which is why it’s nice to know that the hotel offers free parking. Venture 10 to 15 minutes into the more central neighborhood of Gros, however, and you’ll find plenty of excellent pintxo bars—including Andra Mari and Hidalgo 56—as well as Zurriola, the popular local surfing beach, where novices can take lessons.
Need to Know
Rooms: 25 rooms. From $145. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant per se, but an extensive breakfast (not included in all rates) is served daily in the conservatory or garden, and the library-like bar is open for cocktails and wine throughout the day. Each room is also stocked with a free minibar of nonalcoholic drinks, and room service can be ordered in the evenings. Spa and gym details: The Hotel Villa Soro has a small gym, as well as free bicycles to borrow for a more athletic exploration of the city.
Who's it best for: Independent couples and history buffs who appreciate classic elegance. Our favorite rooms: Rooms 12 and 13—both Villa Deluxe rooms—were the original villa bedrooms when it was still inhabited by the original family. Both have been lovingly restored in homage to the original style, and each has its own private balcony. Home away from home: Staying at Villa Soro is like having your own villa in San Sebastián; in addition to the free bicycles, the concierge can arrange dinners at the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants, parking is free, and the front desk offers beach towels that you can use during your stay.