Arrival/Check-in: We arrived on a morning flight to Bilbao, and after a 10-minute drive, we were welcomed and checked in quickly — in time for a nap before lunch to recover from the overnight journey. From the interior glass elevator en route to our room, we could more fully appreciate the soaring (and stunning) atrium and its monumental eight-story wire mesh pillar filled with sea-worn rocks.
Guest Quarters: Our second-floor room looked directly outside, eye level with Jeff Koons’ Puppy, a two-story-tall West Highland terrier pup sculpture completely carpeted in blooming plants. Part of the Guggenheim Bilbao’s permanent art collection, Puppy has become as much an icon of the city as Frank Gehry’s masterpiece building itself — also in full view across the street.
Between the bathroom and the sleeping area was a glass-enclosed room (with optional blinds) holding a huge soaking tub and an open spa shower with a teak slat floor. Never have I found such a complete line of bath amenities — a total of eight bottles plus soap; dental, personal, facial and shoe-shine kits; and several other items, enclosed in Lucite boxes over each of the two contemporary-design sinks. Between them was ample vanity space.
A desk with outlets ran the length of one wall, and the king-sized bed had lights on either side, although they were not especially well set for lengthy bedtime reading. The closet had removable hangers and a shelf large enough for one piece of luggage; a rack was provided for the other one. Although there was supposedly WiFi in the rooms, we were never able to connect; judging from the number of guests waiting to use the terminals in the small business center, many others were also without it.
Original art decorated even the bathroom. In the halls were mural-sized brush drawings of stick-like people and animals that carried through the hotel’s lighthearted art theme. Nightly turn-down included a little black cat, dog or sheep squeaky toy along with chocolate. After a few days’ stay, we had a fine collection of them!
Services/Amenities: The décor of the public areas was striking both for its chic style and its almost playful use of color and form. In the atrium, along with the pillar of water-worn stones, was a stair-stepped fountain where water cascaded around arrangements of dishes and stemware. The furniture here and in the lobby lounge was arrestingly bold in black, white and red. We found the reception staff very helpful, checking on our ongoing hotel arrangements, holding packages and advising on our local itinerary.
A lavish breakfast buffet was served on the seventh-floor terrace overlooking the golden panels of the Guggenheim, awash in morning sunlight. Each morning the buffet offered half a dozen varieties of fresh fruit, as many cheeses, a selection of Spanish hams and cured meats, fresh pastries and breads, crêpes, made-to-order omelets and several local breakfast dishes. We had the option of dining indoors or outside, both with superb views.
The Experience: The service, décor and hospitality were a match to the excellent location; we would certainly choose it again.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Separate tub/shower
- Large vanity
- High-quality towels
- Large, flat-screen television
- Large desk with convenient outlets
- Complimentary in-room WiFi
- Ample lighting
- High-quality bed linens
- Choice of Pillows
- Powerful, unattached hair dryer
- Iron and ironing board
- Easy-ts-set alarm clock
- On-site restaurant and bar
- 24-hour room service
- In-room coffeemaker
- Large, complimentary laptop safe
Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao
Alameda de Mazarredo 61
Bilbao 48009 Spain
tel 34 944 253 300
After driving through the arts and entertainment district of Delray Beach, I was expecting the lively and vibrant energy to follow me to my doorstep at Crane’s Beach House that evening. I was pleasantly surprised when the spirited rumble of a night downtown halted right at the front gate. As I walked the pathway to the front office for check-in, I was welcomed by a quiet rustle of the greenery and flowers that guided my walk, strung with lights and colorful, tropical décor. At check-in I was provided with a complimentary parking pass; although I would only be there for one night, I much appreciated this unexpected perk. I received my room information, including a pass code that would open my door. Keyless entry was a nice touch.
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As more destinations around the globe reopen to travelers, we are ready to get back to one of our favorite activities. Join us over the next several weeks as we take you to places around the world saying #WelcomeBacktoTravel. Take a visual journey through Cleveland, Ohio, with us.
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