Conveniently located just opposite the Guggenheim, the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao opened in 2002 as what was then (and still is) one of the poshest hotels in the largest city in the Basque Country.
The luxury property, which has 145 rooms, seems to be a much larger hotel than what its capacity suggests. It has at least 3 dining outlets including a rooftop terrace, a gym, spa and sauna. At the time of this writing, there is even a fine-dining restaurant under development. It is pretty much a full-service property by any sense of the word.
Tip: Although it’s a standalone hotel, Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts – a group of over 650 independent properties around the world. Preferred Hotels & Resorts has its own loyalty programme – I-Preferred. If you decide to stay at this property, you can earn points from the stay and enjoy additional benefits by booking the I-Preferred member rate. You can get more information here
You can’t expect a hotel located just next to the Guggenheim to be cookie-cutter and in that respect, the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao is almost like an art gallery in itself with unique pieces peppered throughout the public areas. The artworks are from Javier Mariscal who designed the hotel when it first opened.
The art pieces in the hotel are not just mere paintings. Of note is the tall bag of rocks soaring above the hotel’s distinctive curving atrium as well as the mini-clocks at the lobby that form to tell the time. Even the lift lobbies on the individual floors have some sort of art work displayed.
There are no less than 11 categories of rooms and suites in the property, each having its own selling point. Some have terraces, others come with standalone tubs but the most sought-after feature is perhaps that of a Guggenheim view.
For this particular stay, I spent the night at one of the Premier Guggenheim View room which is 4 notches higher than the standard rooms.
As this was a premier category room, not only did the window come with a view of the Guggenheim but it is in this category where room sizes also start to get bigger. At 34 square meters, the Premier Guggenheim View category was quite spacious and featured a good amount of space between the bed and the writing desk in front.
As I was staying on the 2nd floor (the hotel only has 7 floors), I could see the lower parts of the Guggenheim opposite me including the puppy sculpture. The titanium laden bits could only be seen from a higher vantage point, however.
While the public areas make it quite evident that this is an art-centric hotel, the rooms are more subdued and exude a contemporary look. The Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao was last renovated in 2018. The presence of several power outlets by the bed makes it up-to-date with the needs of today’s smartphone wielding travelers.
For a higher-category room, I also spotted a Nespresso machine as well as 2 complimentary capsules – one of which was decaf. Teabags are complimentary as well as a large bottle of mineral water.
Housekeeping is done twice a day including a turndown service in the evenings. For the latter, the staff thoughtfully left a sleep spray for me as well as the in-room breakfast menu.
The bathroom comes with a his and her sink as well as toiletries from The White Company. While I loved the thick and fluffy towels provided, my favorite part has got to be the wooden floors in the shower area. It makes for a more enjoyable shower experience, especially during the cold season when wood doesn’t get as cold as marble tiles.
The tub is a standalone type and if one wishes to, guests can raise the blinds to reveal a panoramic view of the room, and in turn of the happenings by the museum, while enjoying a hot bath. This in turn, also increases the perception of size when it comes to the (already) spacious room.
As I had a rather busy schedule in Bilbao, I did not really get to use the facilities that much. But I could imagine the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao as just the type of property where guests might want to stay in. The spa section is rather comprehensive with a sauna, Turkish bath as well as individual treatment rooms.
The gym is rather compact but features a good selection of workout equipment and weights. Best of all, guests can run on the treadmill while looking out to a view of the Guggenheim. A menu card left in my room also showed that guests can book personal training sessions for dedicated classes such as yoga or HIIT.
Dining & Breakfast
For a relatively small property, I was surprised to find at least 3 dining outlets. There’s Le Cafe, a daily dining kind of venue which offers a menu del dia (menu of the day). By the lobby is a small bar called Sixty One. Finally, there’s the stunning Rooftop Terrace where breakfast is also served.
Having breakfast at the rooftop is perhaps one of the most defining features of a stay at the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao. No other hotel in the city is able to offer a similar experience.
As I was staying in September, it was not too cold in the mornings. It was really pleasant to get an outdoor seat with a direct view of the museum and relying just on natural light. Nothing like the sheer joy of sipping on a small cup of cafe solo while watching the sun rising over the horizon.
The breakfast offering at Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao consists of two parts. The first is a buffet consisting of fruits, pastries, cereals and cold cuts.
The spread was beautiful to look at and made for an enticing start to the morning. I was also pleased to find a selection of fresh juices, including a detox juice for health buffs. Those with a sweet tooth can delight in gummy bears for their first meal of the day.
On the other hand, guests can also order a few staples from the ala carte menu including eggs done in various ways, avocado toast as well as pancakes. I ordered the latter and the pancakes came warm and fluffy, just nice for that crisp Bilbao morning in September.
As a five-star property, the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao comes with what you’d expect from the rating – complete facilities, well-appointed and spacious rooms as well as aesthetically-pleasing interiors. After staying in a few 5-star properties in Spain, I find that this property stays truer to the coveted rating than others. Service here was also topnotch. Although I’ve been taking the opportunity to practice speaking in Spanish during this trip, the hotel staff were all conversant in English. I suppose that’s due to the hotel’s popularity with American visitors. The staff members I interacted with were exceedingly friendly. Seeing that I was alone, one of them volunteered to take pictures of me with the Guggenheim view at the rooftop – and she took great photos as well.
Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao
Mazarredo Zumarkalea, 61