Hotel Highlights

  • Design-led decor with a whole lotta art and soul
  • Superb surfing spot, 10 minutes from Biarritz
  • Brilliant Basque restaurants nearby

Overview

On the Atlantic coast between St-Jean-de-Luz and Biarritz, Guéthary is a French fishing port with architecture that would look more at home on a Swiss Alp – the timbered exterior of Arguibel, no exception. Inside, lime and turquoise walls, regal roll-top baths, disco-shiny mosaic tiles and psychedelic Louis-XV chairs are just some of the eye-popping details that make this boutique hotel a design rhapsody.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Arguibel with us:

A drink on the house (wine or champagne); a €30 discount when you book a treatment at the Loreamar Thalasso Spa at Grand Hôtel Saint-Jean-de-Luz; and tickets for the Basque Eco-Museum in Saint-Jean-de-Luz

Facilities

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Arguibel hotel - Pays Basque - France

Need To Know

Rooms

Five, including two suites.

Check–out

12pm (or later when possible). Earliest check-in, 11am.

Rates

Double rooms from $194.70 (€141), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast (€16).

Also

The hotel can book you a yoga lesson or in-room massage.

At the hotel

Garden, free WiFi throughout, book, CD and DVD libraries; flatscreen TV, DVD player and CD player in the lounge; iPods in the lounge and bar. In room: Anne Sémonin goodies, minibar, free bottled water (TV by request).

Our favourite rooms

Suite Paul-Jean Toulet is a turquoise tour-de-force, with sleek high-design details in bedroom, sitting room and bathroom. Two sets of French doors open onto a balcony with a dining table for four. Of the rooms, No 30 Charlie Chaplin is the biggest, but No 63 Betry Daguerre wins our hearts with its angel-white decor, driftwood bedstead and pebble-shaped pouffe.

Packing tips

Quiksilver board shorts for him, Roxy play dresses for her, and Havaianas for everyone – you’re in surf country now…

Also

The hotel has free parking or can arrange a taxi from Biarritz train station.

Children

All ages welcome; cots are free, extra beds cost €25.

Food & Drink

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Arguibel hotel - Pays Basque - France

Hotel Restaurant

No restaurant. Breakfast – taken in the turquoise salon or on the deck – is a French farmers’ market in microcosm: fresh fruit, little pots of yoghurt, just-baked brioche, bread and pastries, and wonderful coffee.

Hotel Bar

Cone chairs and low Verner Panton tables furnish the old-meets-new bar, which has a 1930s-style polished wooden counter and serves fruit juices, wine and champagne, 9am–1pm and 5pm–10pm. At other times, a help-yourself honesty bar operates.

Room service

There isn’t any, but you can ask the hotel about takeaway options, which vary according to season.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Look as though your surfboard’s just out back by donning Hawaiian-inspired prints.

Top table

On sunny days, the deck, with its views over the sloping lawn beyond, is hard to beat.

Local Guide

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Arguibel hotel - Pays Basque - France
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Don’t be fooled by the Spanish name, Le Madrid on Place PJ Toulet serves traditional French dishes such as côte de boeuf with béarnaise sauce and has a spacious terrace on the square (www.lemadrid.com). Michelin-starred Les Frères Ibarboure on Chemin de Ttalianea in Bidart (+33 (0)5 59 54 81 64; www.freresibarboure.com) serves dishes such as lamb sweetbreads and madeira-laced foie gras – opt for the 18th-century, lofty beam-ceilinged dining room by evening or the sunny terrace for lunch. Also in Bidart, on Rue de L’Ouhabia just 50 metres from the sea, is Restaurant La Cucaracha, where you can join the locals in enjoying prime beef cuts and super-fresh sea bream in the brightly painted restaurant, decked with guitars, old photos and rustic murals (+33 (0)5 59 54 92 89). Try the cod à l’espagnol or the veal stew with peppers at La Ferme Ostalapia on Chemin d’Ostalapia in Ahetze. Originally an old inn, the dining room is trad country in style with an enormous fireplace. The gingham-clothed tables on the terrace have mesmerizing mountain views (+33 (0)5 59 54 73 79; www.ostalapia.fr). Indulge in a lazy lunch of freshly caught fish on the deck at Tantina de la Playa – set on a hill above the beach on Rue de la Plage du Centre in Bidart (+33 (0)5 59 26 53 56).

Local bars

Scarlet-awninged Bar Basque enjoys a corner spot on the main square, Place PJ Toulet, flanked with adjacent terraces. Linger over beers, graze on peanuts, charcuterie and cheeses. There’s often live music here, too (+33 (0)5 59 26 55 00).

Local cafés

Bag a deckchair on the grass at fishing net- and buoy-draped Cenitz Ostatua on the Plage de Cenitz in Guéthary and let the lapping waves serenade your aperitifs. There’s also a small restaurant here, serving Basque speciality garlic-roasted squid (chipirons) but you’ll need to book one of their picnic-style tables (+ 33 (0)5 59 26 59 16; www.cenitz.fr). Browse the board shorts in 2ndsky on the Chemin du Port, then head upstairs to the café for snacks and paninis (+33 (0)05 59 54 72 56).

+ Enlarge
Coastal Basque hillside

Arguibel

1146, Chemin de Laharraga, 64210, Guéthary, Pays Basque, France

Planes

Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) fly from London (Stansted or Gatwick) to Biarritz, a 20-minute drive from Arguibel.

Trains

From Gare Montparnasse in Paris, direct trains to Biarritz take just over five hours (www.seat61.com).

Automobiles

There are five car-hire desks at Biarritz Airport, including Avis (www.avis.co.uk).

Reviews

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Arguibel hotel - Pays Basque - France

Anonymous review

by Kate Pettifer , Miss Adventure

This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.

A tanned choux bun of a buttock is peeping above a balcony rail, as a damp Enrique Iglesias-alike surfer peels off his wetsuit on the apartment terrace above a Gue?thary street. Mr Smith and I h...

Read more

Arguibel

Anonymous review by Kate Pettifer, Miss Adventure

This review is taken from our guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France.

A tanned choux bun of a buttock is peeping above a balcony rail, as a damp Enrique Iglesias-alike surfer peels off his wetsuit on the apartment terrace above a Gue?thary street. Mr Smith and I haven’t even made it to the beach yet but, as views go, it’s an encouraging start.

Gue?thary, between Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Biarritz on the Atlantic coast, is a hilly village sloping down to the waves, its quiet streets lined with the typical timbered white and red Basque houses that you see throughout the region. One such property is Arguibel, our maroon and white home for the weekend, which looks as though it’s just stepped off an Austrian Alp. On the inland side of the village, towards Ahetze, this boutique B&B is separated from Gue?thary-on-sea by the main north-south road.
We are greeted by Franc?ois, a wiry, square-spectacled man with a quiet charm, who co-owns the property with his wife, Mariannick. On closer inspection, Arguibel turns out to be a newbuild, its exterior in keeping with Basque tradition, its setting a carpet of sloping lawn that tapers towards pea-green pastures beyond.

Inside is revealed a rainbow gallery of modern design, with a big teal-painted lounge at its heart. Bokja chairs covered in a kaleidoscopic patchwork of vintage fabrics catch my eye, as do Frida Kahlo-esque collages and sparkly, palette-exhausting paintings by Wilma, a British-born artist who lives in Gue?thary.

Arguibel’s five rooms, peeling off the lounge and first-floor landing, are flamboyantly themed creations, each a tribute to a character with local ties. Mr Smith’s first choice had been the Charlie Chaplin room, an homage in masculine monochrome to the Hollywood star, who holidayed in Gue?thary. But Mr Smith didn’t make the booking. And I preferred the sound of feathery lamps and currant-coloured silk headboards in chocolate-lime L’Infante on the ground floor, named for the Spanish princess who met Louis XV in the Basque country.

Mr Smith plays cursory attention to the decor, so it’s left to me to coo over the details. Light switches. Upholstered switches, no less, in the same praline and gooseberry swirly fabric as the curtains – a real pedant-pleaser. I can tell by the way Mr Smith huffs and puffs around the iPod dock, assuming the manly role of DJ, that he’s feeling a tad emasculated by our feminine, frou-frou surrounds. But, as Franc?ois arrives with glasses of champagne and peanuts for us to enjoy on our private terrace, Mr Smith is soon soothed into holiday mode.

‘There’s a farm... I found it online... I think it’s away from the coast?’ These are Mr Smith’s vague, stilted clues to Franc?ois about where we’d thought of heading for dinner. ‘La Ferme Ostalapia,’ deciphers Franc?ois, without a flicker of confusion. With equal ease, he secures us ‘the last table for tonight’ (‘I bet he says that to everyone,’ speculates Mr Smith ungratefully). The smiley waitress, all confidence and twinkly eyes, brings a mini Kilner jar of rillettes de porc and some baguette toasts with the menus. We’re in the white-timbered annexe of the rustic restaurant, packed out with animated locals enjoying Saturday night out. Mr Smith orders cochon de lait ro?ti – a slab of roast piglet served with moreish fri?tes de maison. I work my way through Rossini de canard, served with a tower of ceps and garlicky saute? potatoes. We somehow find room for an almondy, coulis-drizzled tarte aux abricots.

The next morning, from my prone position, I lie looking at the hills – not the green bucolic ones visible through the arched French doors, but my and Mr Smith’s bulging bellies. Not that this holds us back at breakfast. A trolley is wheeled to our table, bearing a choice of steaming, syrupy coffee or loose-leaf tea, brewed in Asian-style clay pots, as well as a basket of pastries and just-baked baguettes, sheep’s milk yoghurt, fresh tangerines, apples and redcurrants.

We decide to tour the inland villages by car, through Ahetze to Saint-Pe?e-sur-Nivelle, where a scan of the main drag delivers the three Bs of the Basque village: bar, bakery, boules. We drive on. Ainhoa, at the top of the Col de Pinodieta, is an emotional and literal high point, the village centred around a high street of shuttered stone houses and cobbled parking bays. We live the French cafe? cliche?, sipping grands cre?mes and scribbling postcards, only sorry the epicerie opposite isn’t open to sell us a string of dried red peppers, as emblematic of Basque identity as the berets and chalets.

The return of the sun lures us to Biarritz the next day, where good weather, bracing beach views and tempting shops are in plentiful supply. Mr Smith is in patient form, only occasionally muttering ‘Ryanair’ under his breath as I bulk out the luggage allowance with local linens and nuggets of Basque silver jewellery. An evening flight means we have time to catch the sunset at Bidart, Gue?thary’s beachy neighbour. It’s like walking onto the set of Point Break, only with fewer masked bank robbers. Surfers dot the sea like croutons in soup, rollers flop onto the raffia-coloured shore, and the amber sun is as big as a boule as it drops over the horizon. Not that it’s easy to keep focusing out to sea. Left and right, we are flanked by rippling surfer bods, performing feats of modesty with small towels or zipping up neoprene shorties. As with the light switches, it’s left to me to admire the detail. Now, where did my Enrique-alike get to?

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Arguibel's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on 25 Apr 2013

We loved

Hotel was superb! Beautiful surroundings and very stylishly decorated.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 14 Jul 2012

My partner was very keen to stay here; I thought, however, that the various colours of the interior would make my head spin. I was wrong. This place is truly unique, with a calmness and chill factor to it that seems completely connected to the owners and their eclectic choices in art furniture, literature and colour. Both tanned, hip and friendly Frenchies – it was the closest we came to feeling like we had called into a friend’s place on the way through our travels. It was Bastille Day and we had a sensational seafood meal at Le Madrid followed by relaxing in the Arguibel lounge, listening to music and drinking local wine. Only an hour’s drive from here when we left the next day is Getaria, birthplace of Cristabal Balenciaga and the Balenciaga Museo, well worth the visit. A blissful couple of days on the border.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 27 Jun 2012

Cote Basque and 38 degrees: it's too hot to be shadeless on the beach so Arguibel is the answer. No-one in when we rolled up roasted at 3pm but a note on the door with a phone number (they had to take the cat to the vet and they just gave us the entrypad key code and said to help ourselves to a drink from the bar we did  – water). Our room, L'Infante, was on the ground floor with a lovely terrace, mad lime-green feather lampshades – really comfy and spacious and they had put in a large freestanding fan – no AC – which was wonderful. We finally went down to the loungers at 6pm but gave up and retreated to our terrace's two chairs, table, brolly, two loungers, two coffee chairs and a table. We had been eating for 10 days by this stage so just popped up to Bidart to a very decent creperie which was just what we wanted. Breakfast outside was excellent: nothing cooked but a good range and a super tea list served in Japanese tea pots. We will go back for a few days because it is so quiet and peaceful (except when the thunder and lightening set off, Basque style).

Rating: 8/10 stars