Hidden among the trees in the Miramón Forest, Arima Hotel brings striking design and destination dining to San Sebastián’s leafiest suburb, leaving an impressively small footprint in the process. Built to the strict energy-efficiency standards set by the Passivhaus movement, this green-minded hotel is the first of its kind in Spain, having slashed its energy consumption to a fraction of its peers. Eco-friendliness is at the heart of everything here, influencing the aluminum-clad exterior and the restaurant’s insistence on organic ingredients, which go into gourmet tapas dishes befitting of San Sebastián’s foodie scene. For now, you can get your healthful kicks in the forest, glass-walled yoga studio and the stylish rooftop infinity pool. A state-of-the-art spa is soon to follow, slated to open in autumn 2019.
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A welcome drink and a snack each; GoldSmiths also get late check-out (subject to availability)
Double rooms from £61.76 (€74), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates don’t include breakfast, an organic buffet with fresh bread and pastries; freshly squeezed juices; fresh fruit; cereals and various milks and yoghurts. There’s also an à la carte menu with hot and vegan options.
Every room has a recycling drawer in the bathroom, enabling you to do your bit by separating used plastic, glass, paper and organic waste.
Every room is styled with space-maximising minimalism, and has at least one large window that floods the room with light. We’d go for one of the junior suites, which have spacious living areas and guaranteed forest views.
The infinity-edged pool – only open in summer – is on the roof, commanding a view over the canopy of the Miramón forest. It’s unheated and filled with water that’s treated with UV radiation and a low dose of bromine, avoiding chlorine and its eye-irritating effects. Sleek sun loungers and chairs are arranged around the sides, and there’s a pool bar for cooling cocktails and snacks. It's open from 15 June to 29 September every year.
The hotel's spa is currently in the works, slated to open in autumn 2019. In the meantime, you'll have full use of the 300sq m gym, which is full of top-of-the-range Technogym equipment.
Bring a steel water bottle so you can ditch the plastic when making your way around town.
All the common areas are wheelchair accessible, and two of the Standard Passiv rooms are adapted.
All ages are welcome, but the hotel isn’t particularly geared towards children. There are family rooms, however, and the restaurant has high chairs and cutlery for kids. Babysitting can be arranged for €30 an hour; one day’s notice is needed.
Built to the rigorous energy efficiency standards set out by the Passivhaus movement, Arima is as eco-friendly as hotels come. Inside and out, the design pushes the boundaries of efficiency, with 77 per cent of the hotel’s energy needs coming from aerothermal and geothermal power. Insulation, triple-glazed windows and aluminium tiles boost its ability to store heat or stay cool; rainwater is collected, filtered and used in the gardens and toilet cisterns; all waste is separated; and the duvets, pillows, bath products and ingredients used in the restaurant are all organic.
Minimalist Scandi threads will chime well with the pale-wood panelling and modernist furniture.
Not only living up to San Sebastián's culinary credentials, restaurant Misura also suits the hotel’s green outlook to a T, only using organic ingredients that comes from nearby farms and suppliers. The kitchen is very much part of the elegant and light-filled dining room, enabling the chefs to put on a bit of a show as they prepare tapas-style plates with signature Basque flair. Alongside the à la carte options, there are several tasting menus to choose from, including vegetarian and vegan options. Tilia Deli & Café is a more casual eatery, serving breakfast, light bites and bistro-style lunches and dinners.
Drinks are served at Misura, Tilia and the rooftop bar, which matches the pool’s seasonal opening hours. Try one of the many biodynamic wines or keep cool with a classic Aperol Spritz.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10.30am. Misura is open for dinner from 8pm to 10.30pm every day except Tuesday and Wednesday; lunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 3.30pm. Tilia serves food and drinks from 9.30am to 10.30pm daily.
Arima Hotel is in the forest that fringes Miramón, a leafy neighbourhood just outside of San Sebastián’s centre.
San Sebastián regional airport is closest, but if you’re coming from outside Spain, you’ll be better off flying into Biarritz (a 40-minute drive away) or larger Bilbao (a 70-minute drive from the hotel).
Renfe services from Madrid and Barcelona pass through San Sebastián–Donostia, a 10-minute drive from the hotel. Make sure you get tickets for a direct service, which takes around 5-and-a-half hours from either city. Travelling on a slower, connecting route will drastically extend the length of your journey.
It’s easy enough to get into the city centre by bus or cab, so you won’t necessarily need your own car (if you do want to hire, however, the Smith24 team can arrange it). There’s underground parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Overlooking the leafy canopy of the Miramón Forest, the hotel feels a world away from the bustling city centre – even if it’s only a short bus ride away. The placid surroundings and calming, wood-clad interiors are quick to bring on a state of bliss, but you’ll get there even quicker with one of the yoga classes, held in a minimalistic studio with double-height windows facing the forest. Once you’ve limbered up, ascend to the rooftop to reward your efforts with a healthy dose of vitamin D, lounging by the pool with a freshly squeezed juice from the bar. With the forest right on the doorstep, you couldn't ask for a better spot for strolling or cycling. The hotel has a fully equipped bike room with storage space, meaning you can bring your own two wheels or rent an electric bike during your stay. Down on the coast, go for a walk along curving Concha Bay, the most famous of San Sebastián’s beaches. At the far end is the Parque de Miramar, a leafy hillside that’s peppered with some of the city's’ finest historic mansions. For the best sea views, head to the summit of Monte Igueldo, reached by a wooden funicular running since 1912. At its foot is Ondarreta beach, where you’ll find the Peine al Viento, a trio of pink-granite sculptures by celebrated Basque artist Eduardo Chillida.
San Sebastián is rightly famous for its concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants, but it’s the pintxos bars that are the bread and butter of the city’s dining scene. Bars and cafés across the city turn out a huge range of these traditional Basque snacks, which are usually layered over bread and skewered with a cocktail stick. Locals wash them down with plenty of txakoli, the local white wine, but they pair just as well with a tall beer or glass of rioja. There are many places to choose from, and it's sometimes the most unassuming-looking spots that serve the best dishes; some of the classics are A Fuego Negro, Ganbara, Txuleta, Zeruko, Atari, La Cuchara de San Telmo (on Santa Korda Kalea, open from 8pm), and Goiz Argi (known for its shrimp bruschetta). On the sweeter end, don’t miss Santa Lucia, a strong contender for the best chocolate-smothered churros in town. For a Michelin-starred take on traditional Basque cuisine, book a table at Bodegon Alejandro, on one of the oldest streets in the city centre. Etched with old maps of the city, the tables complement chef Iñaxio Valverde’s menus, which are tied to the region and its seasonal bounty. It may sound like an Anglophile pub, but Gerald's Bar is actually a retro-styled eatery owned by Melbourne-based restaurateur Gerald Diffey, who fell for the city hard enough that he decided to open his second restaurant here. The holy trinity of inventive dishes, interesting wines and excellent service are in abundance, and the bill tends to represent good value in what can be an expensive city. For world-class cuisine and sweeping sea views, hop in a cab to Pedro Subijana’s Akelarre, holder of three Michelin stars. Perched on a hillside overlooking the Bay of Biscay, this iconic restaurant has cemented its reputation over several decades, attracting gourmets from far and wide.
Cerveceria Bar Etxeberria on Iñigo Kalea is famous for its selection of beer and vermouth; for gins and artisanal tonics, pull up a pew at La Gintoneria Donostiarra. Gerald's Bar serves excellent wines by the glass and probably does the best negroni in town.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this eco-friendly hotel in San Sebastián and unpacked their shiny new pepper mill from the city’s Le Creuset boutique, a full account of their foodie break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Arima Hotel in San Sebastián…
Today’s traveller is as keen on style and luxury as any that went before them, but one thing that’s changed is a more mindful attitude towards their footprint. Good looks and slick service still go a long way, but a hotel with an eco-conscious outlook means you can feel good about your globetrotting too. At Arima Hotel, everything from the aluminium tiles to the bath products was chosen because it was as kind to the planet as could be, contributing to the creation of one of the most eco-friendly hotels in Europe. Where it gets even more impressive, however, is that it still has the striking looks, stellar service and indulgent facilities of a far more decadent establishment. At Arima, being eco-friendly doesn’t mean giving up nice things: it’s just an exercise in doing them better. Meals are still indulgent and delicious, furnishings are sleek and stylish and the rooms have powerful showers and bathtubs bigger than most. If Arima is out to prove anything, it’s that less really can mean more.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Arima Hotel’s Guestbook below.
The location, the pool and the bikes. A perfect place to stay if you want the experience of San Sebastian but not the hustle and bustle.