Thanks to previous reviews, although we had already booked the hotel via a Brittany Ferries deal, I did arrange a room which overlooked the Vizcaya (river). This really made up for a very tired, gloomy and unkempt room (No. 216) with stained carpets. If other rooms were like this and we hadn't arranged a 'room with a view' our stay would have been dire. It also pays to book a space in the hotel's parking basement - it's not easy to find. If you do need to ask in the hotel for its location be aware that it's very close. Taking a pragmatic course of action as you come out of reception to exit the hotel and facing the river, turn left and immediately left again. The parking entrance is within yards on your left - it's not marked. Somewhat like trying to find the Leaky Cauldron.
The person at the reception desk was somewhat confused and seemed to think we were only booked in for one night. Neither did he inform us that residents eating in the dining room had a special menu at a reduced price. We were informed of this on our second night by staff waiting in the dining room. However the meals were superb. Some have commented on the noise at night but we didn't experience this - remember you are in Spain.
To sum up re the hotel - prebook a room overlooking the river, prebook a parking space and be aware that there's a special menu for residents.
The immediate area is an experience with dancing al fresco on Sundays to a live band. We were impressed by the style, dexterity and agility of the locals - everybody (including spectators) were enjoying themselves. Discovered a churrería to the left of the hotel facing the river. Took me back to my student days in Madrid. You're also within easy reach of Bilbao via the metro (of which they're very proud). I'd recommend both the hotel (in spite of its shortcomings) and the immediate area. If you don't speak Spanish you will not get as much from the region.
PS Walk over to the other side of the river via the bridge - the view is breathtaking. Don't be daunted as it's perfectly safe and you can come back with the other wimps on the gondola.
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Hotel Portugalete