Tripping through Spain: Basque Country (Part 2 of 3)

“Let’s get out of Dodge,” I commented and off we drove to Basque Country from our Madrid base camp.  I’d found this new hotel over looking the sea and Akelerre did not disappoint. Designed by Mecanismo – Marta Urtasun and Pedro Rica – they positioned the building exactly right for landscape overlooking the Bay of Biscay.

You had me at Hello - who wouldn't want to sip a Rioja here? And it just gets better!

You had me at Hello - who wouldn't want to sip a Rioja here? And it just gets better!

Our brand new contemporary room was spectacular with huge sliding doors that opened everything to the sea. I will never forget that view and the peace it brought to my soul. This hotel is so well designed it’s a marvel in and of itself to visit.

Half the view from our private balcony over looking the Bay of Biscay to the south.

Half the view from our private balcony over looking the Bay of Biscay to the south.

More views from inside our living room to a view to the north and then a view straight out near sunset. It was so warm in late October that we could leave the door open most of the time. The cows, sheep, seabirds and occasional fishing boats made this spot idillic. 

This is the bath of my dreams - wide open to nature and the sea below. I watched the sun set dreaming of the next spaces I'd create while soaking away....

This is the bath of my dreams - wide open to nature and the sea below. I watched the sun set dreaming of the next spaces I'd create while soaking away....

Wall with hidden doorways to the spa bath and walk-in closet. Expertly constructed, the wall's veneer was perfectly matched to create a clean division between functional spaces. 

Wall with hidden doorways to the spa bath and walk-in closet. Expertly constructed, the wall's veneer was perfectly matched to create a clean division between functional spaces. 

Fabric walls and acoustical ceilings created a silent sanctuary for our rest and relaxation. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Hidden HVAC also an ingenious placement.

Fabric walls and acoustical ceilings created a silent sanctuary for our rest and relaxation. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Hidden HVAC also an ingenious placement.

Who does this? It's a perfect oval spiral in a new building that is linear in design - punctuated contrast or what?

Who does this? It's a perfect oval spiral in a new building that is linear in design - punctuated contrast or what?

And now to the food. Chef Pedro Subijana owns the property and it’s famous heritage is as a 3-Michelin starred eating establishment for over ten years. We ate in the main restaurant one evening and selected the experimental menus and the wine pairings. 

The wine pairings were some of the best we’ve had – the food was, however, a bit uneven. In particular a few of the courses were visually challenged and lacked a distinctive flavor. On the positive, some of our courses in the hotel restaurant were really consistent like the lobster bisque.

 

Squid Rice in black squid ink with Rose butter - spectacular!

Squid Rice in black squid ink with Rose butter - spectacular!

Pinxtos or Pinchos?

Both depending on where you are and we had some spectacular mushroom pinchos in both San Sebastian and Logrono. Either the wine or the food is free and you pay for the other depending on which establishment you visit.

San Sebastian/Ganbara

The fresh mushrooms were piled so high they couldn’t add anymore to the plates. Lighting sauteed with an egg these mushroom Pinxtos were melty and soft. This place was packed and you had to worm your way in but totally worth the wait.

Harvest fresh mushrooms piled high for the day's Pinxtos - so good! San Sebastian

Harvest fresh mushrooms piled high for the day's Pinxtos - so good! San Sebastian

San Sebastian/Bar Nestor

This place has three plates – tomatoes, peppers and steak. That’s it and don’t expect to share a steak with more than two people at the bar or you’ll be asked to go sit in the empty room next door.

The bartenders are also the servers and show you a couple of raw steaks just like an old supper club for your beef pinxtos. The sizzling plate arrives with steak knives and a piece of meat perfectly prepared to your order. Well worth fighting the crowd for a place at the bar.

Sizzling hot plate with sirloin steak to share at the bar - Maldon salt and the freshest cut of your choice - Bar Nestor

Sizzling hot plate with sirloin steak to share at the bar - Maldon salt and the freshest cut of your choice - Bar Nestor

Logonos/Bar Laurus

Cute spot in the beginning of the street, Bar Laurus has some more specialized fair like quail skewers, tempura asparagus, tuna skewers and of course Iberian ham. It was comfortable here and not too crowded. There is a full restaurant in the back as well.

Skewered quail and fries - smokey grill flavor with pesto - yum!

Skewered quail and fries - smokey grill flavor with pesto - yum!

Oh, there's more. Wine - a day trip to France and shopping of course. That's all in our last installment coming soon! 

 

Barbara Schmidt, principal of Studiobstyle, is an interior designer and creative director world walking experiences for inspiration.

Barbara Schmidt