Last updated on January 2nd, 2024 at 02:17 pm
Affiliate Disclosure: This Boutique Hotels San Sebastian post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. All opinions are entirely my own.
SAN SEBASTIAN INTRODUCTION
Planning a visit to San Sebastian? Great choice!
This vibrant seaside town, located in the Basque Country of northern Spain, is world renowned for its exceptional cuisine, historical Old Town, favorable climate and unique culture. It also happens to have some incredible beaches, including La Concha, a giant crescent-shaped stretch of sand framed by a beautiful promenade.
Fun Foodie Fact: San Sebastian is second only to Tokyo in terms of Michelin stars per square km!
My husband and I dreamt of a trip to San Sebastian (and all the places we wanted to eat) for many years before we were finally able to make it happen. (One trip was cancelled due to the pandemic.)
Next to planning out a bunch of fabulous lunches and dinners, the other big decision was where to stay in San Sebastian. I am, and have always been, completely obsessed with the boutique hotel experience. To my great delight, I found San Sebastian boutique hotels to be quite plentiful, with several good options to choose from in the 3-star, 4-star and 5-star ranges.
While I have detailed all my favorites San Sebastián boutique hotels below, I also want to share with you some helpful information, including the best area to stay in San Sebastian, some boutique hotel booking tips and other options for accommodations in San Sebastian.
Please use the following menu to find what you need quickly.
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BEST AREA TO STAY IN
If you are wondering where to stay in San Sebastian, I want to share with you a few suggestions.
First of all, city life revolves around the beach and the beachfront promenade. The horseshoe shaped La Concha Bay is actually divided by two major beaches, Ondarreta Beach and La Concha Beach.
Both are lovely, with slightly different vibes. Playa La Concha, however, is closer to some of the other places you will most certainly be spending your time, like the historical Old Town (with all its fabulous pintxos bars), Mount Urgull, and the shopping district.
Now that said, San Sebastian is a delightfully walkable city. Even if your hotel choice requires that you walk a bit to the major San Sebastian attractions, it’s going to be a lovely stroll. (And if you eat as much as we did in this city…you will want to get your steps in.)
MAP OF WHERE TO STAY
Although I spent ages creating the map below in Canva (not skilled at this), it was important for me to share with you where I think most first-time visitors to San Sebastian will spend their time.
Most of the main attractions and hotels are located in the shaded area. While yoc are certain to spend a fair bit of time in the historical Old Town, I have put that area in red because of the fact that I think you should visit, but not stay there (way too noisy at night).
Furthermore, although I think the shaded section is the most ideal area to stay in, San Sebastian is a very safe and walkable city. Should you find a hotel or vacation rental outside of this zone that you think you will love, go for it! Just know that you may spend a little more time getting places
For scale, to walk from the far end of Ondarreta Beach (left of map) to the Old Town (right – shown in red) will take you about 30-45 minutes. It’s a lovely walk along La Concha Promenade though. I walked this promenade twice a day, every day while visiting San Sebastian.
SAN SEBASTIAN BOOKING TIPS
Booking accommodations in San Sebastian, Spain, can be an exciting part of planning your trip to this beautiful city. Here are six tips to help you find the best accommodations for your stay:
IT’S THE SAME PLACE
Just to clear up any confusion before you get started in your search, San Sebastian and Donastia are the same place. Donastia is the Basque name for San Sebastian.
If you are visiting in the peak summer travel months, or during a large festival or event, book way in advance for the best options.
Not sure of your dates? Look for fully refundable, pay later options on sites such as Booking.com so you have something in place. You can always cancel it later if you find a better option. (I do this all the time.)
San Sebastian is a relatively compact city, and many of its attractions are within walking distance. As mentioned above, consider the proximity of your chosen accommodations to the places you plan to visit, such as La Concha Beach, the Old Town (Parte Vieja), and major landmarks such as the Victoria Eugenia Theatre, Cathedral del Buen Pastor and the Miramar Palace.
There is not a ton of parking (at a reasonable price) near the beach or Old Town of San Sebastian. If you are arriving with a vehicle, consider where you are going to park ahead of time (or make arrangements with your hotel property).
READ REVIEWS CAREFULLY
I highly recommend that you take a few extra minutes to thoroughly read reviews of the boutique hotels in San Sebastián that you are considering. Personally, I like to read recent reviews on both Tripadvisor and Google, looking for red flags such as construction right next door. I also always look at Room Tips on Tripadvisor (a button in the reviews section) before making my final selection.
If you are visiting San Sebastian in the summer months, confirm that your hotel has air-conditioned rooms. Although the northern Basque region is typically much cooler than the rest of Spain, like the rest of Europe, it has been experience summer heat waves in recent years.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can enhance your chances of finding suitable accommodations that align with your preferences and make your stay in San Sebastian enjoyable.
In addition to a huge assortment of boutique hotels, San Sebastian has numerous options for vacation rental apartments and villa rentals.
Note: While companies like VRBO publish reviews from all guests with completed stays, some private villa companies only publish the good reviews (ex. The Rentals Collection in San Sebastian). A quick read of that company’s Google reviews will give you a more accurate overview of the quality of their service. Alternatively, you may find the specific units listed by name in a Tripadvisor review.
CURATED HOTEL MAP
While my favorite San Sebastian boutique hotels are all detailed below, I have also dropped them into the following interative map. My recommendations are marked in yellow, like the image below.
You can also use the filter features on the map if you are seeking other options.
BEST BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN
In the following list I share my favourite San Sebastian, Spain boutique hotels. The properties are listed in order from 3 star to 5 star properties.
3-STAR SAN SEBATIAN HOTELS – 3★
Hotel Sansebay is a modern hotel (opened in 2017) with 29 thoughtfully appointed, air-conditioned guest rooms, as well as several 1 and 2 bedroom apartment options.
This sea view hotel is in a wonderful location, next to Mount Urgull Park, the historic Old Town (Parte Vieja), and minute from La Concha promenade and the city centre.
All units at the hotel feature a flat-screen TV, free wi-fi, small desk, minibar, safety deposit box and free toiletries. Although they come with slightly higher room prices, the units with sea views and terraces are entirely worth it!
The apartment units include a full kitchen, seating area and living room. Please note, not all apartment units have air conditioning. Please double check this if you are visiting San Sebastian in the peak summer months.
Breakfast is available at this charming hotel (for an extra charge), but there are also tons of restaurants nearby.
Set in the city center, Villa Katalina is within a 10 minute walk of La Concha Beach, the Old Town, the train station and the bus station. The property is located directly across the street from the Good Shepard of San Sebastián Cathedral and the neighborhood includes some of the city’s best shopping.
Hotel Villa Katalina is relatively new (opened in 2021), breathing new life into a beautifully restored San Sebastian heritage building.
The hotel’s air conditioned rooms include a desk, free wifi, a coffee machine, a kettle, a minibar, a safety deposit box, and a flat-screen TV.
A breakfast buffet is offered daily in the lobby dining area (for a very reasonable extra charge).
4-STAR SAN SEBATIAN HOTELS – 4★
Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra is one of the most classic oceanfront luxury hotels in San Sebastian. This iconic property has been welcoming guests for more than 150 years and radiates old-school charm.
Hotel de Londres is in what is possibly the best location in San Sebastian. It is directly across the street from La Concha Beach and Promenade. It is only a few minutes walk to the Old City and the San Sebastian shopping area.
In addition to the top location, this property also offers an ocean view terrace restaurant for breakfast and cocktails, as well as a fine dining experience at their restaurant La Brasserie Mari Galant. Hotel services include a 24 front desk, concierge and luggage storage.
Parking can be arranged nearby (some packages include it). Parking can be a little tricky in the compact city so I recommend planning this in advance.
While the hotel does not have a gym or spa, they offer a discount at the La Perla Spa Centre – just a short walk away along the La Concha promenade.
Rooms at the Hotel Londres y de Inglaterra feature a classic decor and are equipped with a flat-screen satellite TV, a desk, free high speed Wi-Fi, a safety deposit box, bathrobes, slippers, Fragrances of the Sea toiletries, complimentary water, a kettle and a minibar.
Note: The sea view rooms come at a premium but are what you stay at this hotel for. I would avoid the rooms with city views (there has been much construction around this hotel in recent years).
Lasala Plaza Hotel is known for its prime location close to La Concha Bay, San Sebastian’s Old Town and Mount Urgull. This adults-only hotel is often praised for its rooftop pool, luxurious accommodations, contemporary design, and a blend of modern amenities with the charm of the surrounding historic area.
Room features at the Lasala Hotel include a 43″ Smart TV, Nespresso coffee machine, a Bluetooth connection, safe, rain shower, rooms service and more!
5. HOTEL ARBASO
Hotel Arbaso is a lovely 4-star hotel located in the city centre of San Sebastian. This modern hotel, in a renovated historical building, is nestled into the heart of the shopping area – just minutes’ walking distance to the beach and the Old Town.
This property has its own Michelin recommended restaurant (Narru). It also has a 24-hour front desk, concierge, room service and free bikes available for guest use. An a la carte breakfast is available.
All guest rooms at Hotel Arbaso come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kettle, and a desk. The rooms are also quite large, starting at about 47 sq. m. (500 sq. feet).
Note: While connecting rooms for families in San Sebastian can be hard to find, they are available at this hotel.
Hotel Villa Favorita just happens to be one of my favorite hotels in all of San Sebastian. This 4 star San Sebastian property has 23 beautifully appointed rooms – with the most coveted offering a sea view and a terrace. And if you are visiting Donastia-San Sebastian for the food, you will have chef Paulo Airaudo’s 2 Michelin star restaurant Amelia right in-house!
The location of this San Sebastian boutique hotel is perfect – right across the street from La Concha Beach and Promenade. The harbor, Old Town, the shopping district and Ondaretta Beach are all within a 15 minutes’ walk.
The Hotel Boutique Villa Favorita has a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service and free WiFi throughout the property.
Room features include air-conditioning, beautiful wooden floors, sound proofed walls, electric blinds, a desk, a Nespresso machine, a minibar, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV, and a pillow menu. Some rooms offer a sea view lounge or an outdoor sun terrace.
5-STAR SAN SEBATIAN HOTELS – 5★
7. HOTEL NOBU (NEW IN 2023!)
This San Sebastian 5 star hotel opened its doors in late 2023. In typical Nobu style, its rooms and suites seamlessly combine Japanese minimalist design with traditional Basque elements.
The hotel’s iconic Nobu restaurant offers beautiful views over Playa La Concha and an extensive menu of inventive dishes from Chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
This property has a beautiful seasonal outdoor swimming pool on the rooftop as well as a compact fitness centre. (The lovely La Perla Spa on La Concha Beach is also very close by.)
Room features at the Nobu San Sebastian included luxury linens, a desk, high speed WiFi, a 65″ Smart TV, Lavazza coffee and tea machines, robes, slippers, and Eight and Bob bath amenities. Room service is also available.
Almost all of the rooms and suites at the Nobu Hotel San Sebastian have ocean views. Connecting rooms and cribs are available upon request.
The Hotel Maria Cristina is a true grand dame in San Sebastian. Opened in 1912, this luxurious property was designed by the same architect (Charles Mewes) as the Ritz Paris and Ritz Madrid. With opulent furnishing, top-tier service and incredible sea and river views, this property is one of the most envy-worthy stays in San Sebastian.
Rooms at this Marriott Luxury Collection property feature air conditioning, complimentary wifi, a complimentary minibar, desk, safety deposit box, robe, slippers, a flat screen TV with satellite channels and evening turndown service.
The Maria Cristina has many room configurations. It is perfect for a romantic stay but also has family rooms that can sleep up to four. Furthermore, this property has the ability to connect up to 5 suites for very large groups!