In the quiet Moyúa neighbourhood of Bilbao, surrounded by art, you can simply fall out of bed and into the Guggenheim Museum. The nightlife and the pintxos of Bilbao’s Casco Viejo are a 25-minute walk, or you can catch the above ground tram that runs regularly from in front of the museum.
From a distance, the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao looks to be in a permanent staredown with Puppy, Jeff Koons’ sculpture at the entrance of the Guggenheim. But the two are best friends – the hotel holds its own next to a modern art museum. Common areas are the stuff designer’s dreams are made of – a towering rock sculpture here, a futuristic conch shell staircase there – though the rooms themselves are something more standard. The contemporary art on display is all by Javier Mariscal, Spanish design eminence and the creative designer of the hotel.
The daring design takes a backseat to practicality in the rooms. The marble bathrooms, romantically lit and separated by a glass partition, are a highlight, especially in the superior rooms, where they feature Philipe Stark bathtubs. Of the hotel’s 145 rooms, 54 have the coveted views of the museum.
The hotel’s rooftop terrace is a key attraction. The most important meals of the day (breakfast and happy hour) can be taken on the roof, a stone’s throw away from the titanium waves of the Guggenheim. Take time to enjoy the breakfast, a combination of cold buffet and à la carte morning food. Downstairs, the hotel offers a casual dining options along with a flagship haute cuisine restaurant, Beltz. Chef Abel Corral is at the helm, and the elaborate dishes (think roasted scallops with yucca charcoal and plankton emulsion) are served a la carte.