Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra
A belle epoque grande dame presiding over San Sebastián’s iconic La Concha Beach, the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra has been a palace, casino, hospital, and of course hotel since its construction in 1865. Before and after World War I, it was the kind of place where well-to-do Europeans went on seaside holidays for months at a time, enjoying direct beach access, the city’s renowned seafood, and the hotel’s elegant design. Nowadays, the society consists of a somewhat less star-studded lineup—once Toulouse-Lautrec, Archduchess Elizabeth of Austria
, and Mata Hari were all guests—but the unobstructed Bahía de la Concha views, lovely rooms (all with private balconies), and pride of place at the heart of the city remain. The window-lined brasserie takes its cue from classic French bistros—it’s not hard to imagine that the well-dressed gentlemen at the next table are French aristocrats-in-exile—and its tables along the beachfront promenade are the perfect place to while away a few hours over pintxos, txakoli (a sparkling white wine from Basque Country), and people watching. If you were to spend a few months in a seaside town, this would be the way to do it.