HIGHLY RATED HOTELS There have always been historically magnificent hotels in Bilbao: the Hotel Carlton was the seat of the first Basque Government for a period in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The Lopez de Haro Hotel owes its name to the founder of Bilbao and the Hotel NH Villa de Bilbao looks over the Gran Via, the city's main street, with the approval of the statue of the Sacred Heart. However, the birth of the new Bilbao has required more hotels to be built, whose architecture all features the traits of quality and excellence. Radically different, the Silken Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao, the Meliรก Bilbao or the Hotel Hesperia Bilbao, bring to Bilbao not only hotel accommodation, but also design and progress.
SILKEN GRAN HOTEL DOMINE BILBAO This is the only hotel in Bilbao wholly designed by a Spanish designer: Javier MARISCAL. An unmistakable hallmark of this cutting-edge hotel is the glass mirror faรงade reflecting the Guggenheim Museum. At the rear of the building, the Domine also combines with the orderly Neoclassical architecture of the Ensanche buildings.
The Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao is luxurious, as can be seen in the tables, the sheets, the colours of the carpets, etc. Assisted by interior designer Fernando SALAS, everything has MARISCAL's stamp on it, while architect IĂąaki AURREKOETXEA made his particular contribution by overseeing the initial, and later as project manager.
The result of the work of these two men was a luxurious building which has won prizes ever since it was opened. The first visual impact one has is the CiprĂŠs Fosil (Fossil Cypress) in the inner courtyard, a towering 26 m. high sculpture of stones encrusted in a metal mesh, by Pere CASANOVAS.
The interiors of the bedrooms hold innumerable surprises for guests: the baths, the tap fixtures, the Egyptian cotton sheets, among others. And we should not forget the areas open to the public: Metropol Le CafĂŠ, a cafĂŠ, testimonial to the Bauhaus; Splash&Crash, a 60s style lounge bar; and Beltz the Black Restaurant, built of stone and oak. In 2003, the Domine received a prize for the Best Hotel in Spain, awarded by Iniciativa Hotelera.
HOTEL MELIĂ BILBAO (the former Sheraton) The hand of Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta is apparent in every detail of this hotel in Abandoibarra. The interiors create ample spaces and the reception area is dominated by a pillar weighing a tonne. Made of onyx, a cryptocrystalline form of quartz from Mexico, and sculpted in Italy, this column is a lamp. This combination of rusticity and technology found here is repeated in each of the hotel's wall lamps. The building's size and the red stucco exterior cause an overwhelming impression.
Mr LEGORRETA was assisted by the Basque architects Eduardo AURTENETXEA and Cristina PEREZ, who were involved in implementing the original idea. Special foundations with slurry walls had to be laid. Excavations were carried out in muddy ground further complicated by the presence of the many foundations of the former shipyard. In homage to Iron, 1,200 tonnes of steel were used for the whole structure of the 55 m. high building. Special importance was placed on the use of natural materials of fine quality, and hardly, if at all, any processed materials. For this reason Mr LEGORRETA chose Brazilian cedar, an aromatic and long lasting wood, together with sucupira, which owing to its high mineral content, is a particularly hard tropical wood. The Hotel MeliĂĄ Bilbao is a box of surprises, like the restaurant, a reproduction of a cigar box interior, and the tall lighthouse tower stands prominently in Bilbaoâ€™s skyline.
HOTEL HESPERIA BILBAO The colours of the windows and the balconies of the rooms make the Hesperia Bilbao a cheerful hotel, shining on the banks of the river.
The architectural studio of Iñaki Aurrekoetxea eta Bazkideak took the bold decision to use coloured glass on the main façade, surrounded by classical style buildings. The colours alternate haphazardly, as architect Iñaki AURREKOETXEA explains: “Our choice was based on six colours which necessarily included the primary colours, red, yellow and blue, and some of the complementary colours, green, violet and orange.”