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Melia Bilbao 4.5

Bilbao, Vizcaya Province, Basque Country

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • In the heart of Bilbao, overlooking a park and near public transportation
  • Within walking distance of numerous museums
  • Very modern design with clean lines and interesting architectural elements
  • Fabulous bathrooms with dual sinks, bidets, and deep (sometimes whirlpool) bathtubs
  • Free buffet breakfast daily with a large selection of foods
  • Small, but lovely, rooftop pool
  • Rooms include Nespresso coffeemakers, luxe linens, flat-screen TVs, and minibars
  • 24-hour fitness center has modern machines and saunas
  • Seven conference rooms/facilities and a business center
  • Renowned restaurant serves fusion cuisine and is frequented by both guests and non-guests
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Room decor is bland
  • Wi-Fi is spotty
  • Long lines at the front desk, bar, and slow elevators
  • Gourmet restaurant closes during the summer
  • Fee for parking

Bottom Line

This ultra-modern, 10-floor, 211-room hotel in the heart of Bilbao is all about clean lines and interesting architecture. Right in the center of town and very close to the Guggenheim Museum, the Melia Bilbao feels to many like a modern art museum versus a hotel. Designed by a Mexican architect with inspiration drawn from the Basque sculptor Chillida, the hotel is filled with bright colors, interesting angles and, a sleek, minimalistic vibe. Though advertised as a five-star property, it doesn't quite live up to that level of luxury with bland rooms, no spa, and long lines at the front desk and elevators. However, rooms do have gorgeous bathrooms and the Michelin-rated restaurant is a true standout.

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Scene

Ultra-modern surroundings with a sophisticated vibe to match

Designed by a Mexican architect with inspiration drawn from the Basque sculptor Chillida, the Melia Bilbao is filled with vibrant colors, steel-rimmed elevators, and urban accents. The lobby itself is a work of art with super high ceilings (about 130 feet high), intensely modern white couch banquettes, and unique, tall floral arrangements. The red exterior is only the first hint at the bold colors that await visitors within (pink, red, and orange painted walls adorn the lobby and halls). The 24-hour front desk looks like it never sleeps thanks to a panoramic photo of the city emblazoned on the front (though long lines at the desk also might make patrons feel like they're going to be waiting there all night). On the whole, this well-situated hotel is an interesting juxtaposition of hot colors and cool angles making it a viable option for more sophisticated tourists as well as business travelers.

Location

In the center of Bilbao near a park, museums, and public transport

Located in the center of Bilbao, the hotel is constructed right on the edge of Bilbao's largest park, the very green Doña Casilda Park, as well as the Nervion River, meaning it is in a relatively quiet neighborhood that is still accessible to all of Bilbao's main attractions. The Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Fine Art, and the new Maritime Museum are easily walkable and there is a tram stop right in front of the hotel -- if you don't feel like hoofing it -- that will get you to the museums quickly or to the old town area in 10 to 15 minutes. A small covered shopping mall -- the Zubiiarte -- is also just a short walk from the hotel.

Rooms

Room decor is a tad bland for a luxury property, but bathrooms are gorgeous.

The ultra-modern stylings of the rest of the hotel definitely carry into the private room interiors. Stark walls are offset by brightly painted accent walls, and angular wooden and leather furnishings stand out against the perfectly stark white beds with quality linens. In spite of the minimalism which can make the decor seem a bit vland, the rooms have all the comforts of an upscale hotel room, such as Wi-Fi (though the connection is poor), flat-screen TVs, minibars and Nespresso coffeemakers. But the piece de resistance (no matter if you've booked a standard room or a suite) is the huge, marble bathroom. You could almost sleep in the deep sunken tubs, and there are separate showers, dual sinks, and bidets in each luscious lavatory. Robes are also available. Rooms are supposedly "soundproofed" but there is still quite a bit of interior hotel noise that can be heard, so if you're concerned about that ask for a room away from the gym, pool, or elevators. Also, the higher the room, the better the view.

Features

A Michelin-rated restaurant, free breakfast, wellness center, and event space

The highly-rated Aizian restaurant -- which serves contemporary Basque fusion food -- is a major draw for guests and non-guests alike, but be aware that it does shut down for a few weeks in the summer. Fortunately there is also the Quartre Restaurant (serving tapas) and Q Lounge (serving cocktails) on-site. The daily free breakfast is a plentiful buffet with lots of food choices and chefs even accommodate special dietary needs of celiacs and lactose-intolerant guests. The modern and well-stocked fitness center includes cardio equipment and free weights, as well as separate male and female saunas; there is no spa. The pool is small and has no sitting/sunning area, but the view is fabulous. Seven event spaces of varying sizes are available for meetings and celebratings. There is parking at the hotel but the spaces are narrow and few, and there is a daily fee to park (which adds up).

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Address

Lehendakari Leizaola 29, Bilbao, Province of Vizcaya 48001, Spain

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