Castillo de Arteaga is a fabulous Neo-Gothic castle hotel near Guernica in the rolling hills of the Basque Country. The present day structure was built in honour of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Imperial of France, in the mid 19th century, on the site of a ruined castle dating from the mid 15th century.
Its four grand towers now make a very imposing sight over the wilds of the Urdaibai Nature Reserve and its interiors are a lavish feast for the eyes, though it has been fairly recently renovated the design and decoration remain true to the historical essence.
The castle has just 13 rooms & suites for overnight stays and so has very much an intimate, boutique hotel feel. It can also pleasantly feel more like a stay in the home of a long lost relative rather than a stereotypical hotel stay. The small number of rooms and the quality of its hospitality though means it should be booked well in advance.
The castle’s 13 rooms are divided between standard double and twin rooms, junior suites and full suites. The standard rooms are anything but standard, they are spacious, comfortable and beautifully decorated, and they offer very good value compared to the more expensive junior suites.
The pick of the bunch though are the two very opulent full suites, which are fully worthy of the extra premium. Both are similarly spacious at 50 m² and extremely elegant.
All the accommodation has a distinct 19th century feel, and you are reminded at almost every turn that you are staying in an important place, with metre and a half thick stone walls, wood-beamed ceilings, gilded mirrors, old fireplaces and elegant antique furniture and art pieces. Modern luxuries are here too though, it is a 4 Star hotel; A/C, flat screen satellite TV, WiFi, mini-bar etc. but they remain pleasingly subtle.
Check out all the details – prices, reviews and more photos – on the booking page here.
FACILITIES & THINGS TO DO:
The majestic castle has much common space, the original library being the most lovely, it is a gorgeous, very atmospheric room with a very grand old fireplace at its centre, crystal chandeliers, period art, deep sofas and armchairs.
The hotel restaurant is believed to be one of the best in the Basque Country with the dining area divided between the castle’s old sunken solarium and its original dining hall. The menu promises traditional Basque cuisines with creative modern touches, multi course set menus and tasting menus are available.
The hotel has an extensive wine collection housed in the castle cellars, and there you can enjoy wine tasting courses in the company of the resident sommelier. There is an intimate bar-café beside the restaurant too which also has an outdoor terrace area.
The castle is located in Gautegiz Arteaga, near Guernica, and in the Basque Country’s beautiful Urdaibai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO protected biosphere reserve.
Within minutes on foot you can be in the heart of deepest woodland and it is a great place for long hikes and meandering nature walks. The coast is less than ten minutes’ away by far with the town of Guernica, site of the pre WW2 war crime and inspiration for Picasso’s masterpiece of the same name is also just ten minutes’ away.
Bilbao, the Basque capital is around a half an hour to the west while the elegant beach resort town of San Sebastian is around an hour to the east.
A LITTLE HISTORY:
A castle or at the very least a defensive structure has been on this site since the eighth century, one that has been razed and rebuilt over the centuries, with the present structure being built on the ruins of a castle from the mid-fifteenth century.
The castle had for generations been the property of the Arteaga-Montijo family, relatives of Empress Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of France, but by the 19th century had fallen into dereliction.
In 1856 upon the birth of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Imperial and son of Eugénie and Napoleon III, a decree was announced by the assembly of the Basque Country to grant the estate, the new prince’s ancestral home, to the Imperial Family and to build a new castle on the site of the old.
The Empress and Emperor enthusiastically got on board and commissioned one of the best architects in France, Louis-Auguste Couvrechef, to draw up plans for a Neo French Gothic style castle and landscaped grounds. He passed on responsibility to another renowned architect, Gabriel-Auguste Ancelet, who started work in 1859 with the project taking over 20 years to complete.
WHAT OTHER GUESTS SAY:
“We loved being there! It was a very beautiful castle. Like being in a fairy tale. Lovely staff and beautiful grounds….”
“This was definitely one of the coolest places we’ve ever stayed at. It is a newly renovated castle. It’s beautiful, luxurious, comfortable, and very classy….”
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