Hidden Basque Retreat
Iriarte Jauregia calls itself a hotel, but it is clearly so beyond that label. Tucked into the mountains between cattle, pig, and sheep farms about 1.5 hours (south)east of Bilbao (or 1 hour south of San Sebastian), this hidden retreat is a quiet paradise.
A remodeled 17th century palace, the venue features only 19 elegant bedrooms, each with outstanding views to the countryside. You will fall asleep to the wind in the trees and awaken to the gentle cow bells as the animals find breakfast.
The restaurant was beyond excellent, as you would expect in this area of Spain. The service was imperceptibly spot-on.
From here you can hike, take day trips to small local villages (or to San Seb), or read all day long on one of the terraces.
To arrive, fly into Bilbao and rent a car. When you get into town, turn right toward the main church. Prepare to relax!