When the Guggenheim Museum opened in Bilbao as part of the city’s post-industrial revitalization almost twenty years ago, new hotels mushroomed to take advantage of the flow of expected visitors with Hotel Miró being first among them.
Designed by fashion designer Antonio Miró and interior designer Pilar Líbano, it was inspired by the New York concept of boutique hotels, born during the 1980s and created by hotelier and ex-owner of Studio 54, Ian Schrager. Its 50 rooms on several floors are divided into 45 doubles, three junior suites and two master suites.
Arriving on a damp, wet evening after a drive into the countryside to view the labyrinth of Amalurra (‘ama lurra’ means ‘mother earth’), we were delighted to enter the welcoming warmth and comfort of its open-plan, ground-floor sitting room located below street level. More compact than spacious, bright and well equipped, including tea and coffee making facilities, our cozy, upper-floor room was decorated in neutral colors with design elements including double-sided mirrors that gave a sense of greater space and white leather sofas. The result: precise functionality rather than overt luxury.
The property’s central location, within easy walking distance of the Guggenheim and the Museum of Fine Arts, means it is a convenient base for cultural excursions. Old Town with its many shops and cafes serving tasty pintxos (Basque tapas) is a mere 25-minute walk away while the riverside area where the Nervión sweeps by elegantly is even closer, with attractive pedestrianized avenues on each bank.
This chic boutique property reflects the impressive rejuvenation of Bilbao after its rapid industrial decline. Abandoibarra, the district where the hotel is located, was once a heavily industrialized area characterized by a series of plain, dull warehouses until leading architects such as Rafael Moneo, Álvaro Siza, Carlos Ferrater and César Pelli took on the challenging task of renovation. The fruits of their creativity are obvious in the pleasant Plaza Euskadi in the center of the area topped with the Iberdrola Tower, just steps from the hotel.
Amenities include a spa area with a hot tub, a steam room, and massages, plus a fitness center, a courtesy bar and a library. The hotel can accommodate small meetings with a maximum capacity of around 35 people.
Breakfast is served in a room above the lobby and is based on what is termed, ‘The Brown Bread Bag’ concept, comprising a selection of hand-crafted breads including rustic, linen and German varieties, freshly-squeezed orange juice, Basque farmhouse eggs, homemade jams from Orduña, natural honey from Urdaibai, Idiazabal cheese and fresh tomato. Cooked breakfasts can be made upon request. Throughout the day the hotel provides coffee and tea, fruit juices and snacks free.
While furnishings are minimalist in style, the hotel’s contemporary photography collection exceeds over forty works – in the breakfast room, images of milk by Concha Prada and in the courtesy bar a moving image of travellers by Marc Viaplana. The hotel does not have its own parking lot but there are two 20-minute drop-off spaces outside the front door and a large, secure public car park across the street.
For a comfortable boutique hotel within walking distance of Bilbao’s main cultural and shopping highlights, the Hotel Miró is a convenient choice.