A highlight of any trip to Spain is a stay in the picturesque city of San Sebastián (pop. 185,000), known in the Basque language as Donostia. Set on the cusp of the seashell-shaped Bay of La Concha, it is just 14 miles from the border with France. Gourmets make pilgrimages here for the world-renowned Basque cuisine, which takes its culinary cues from both countries. And this charming resort town boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other city in the world.
We had arrived here after eating our way across Spain: tapas in Barcelona, espetos de sardinas (sardine skewers) in Málaga, serranito (Andalusian warm sandwiches) in Seville and jamón Ibérico and vermut everywhere. It was hard to imagine that we’d still want to indulge this late into our trip, but gastronomy is usually the principal point of any visit to San Sebastián.
Although we could have stayed close to the beach, or in the center of town with its many lively pintxo (tapas) bars, we’d chosen a quieter location west of the city instead. A 10-minute drive up winding roads that hug lush green hillsides brought us to the top of Monte Igueldo. Here, we found Akelarre, a 22-room property that surveys the vast expanse of the Cantabrian Sea. While most hotels grow by adding a restaurant, this one had the opposite genesis. Akelarre was already a celebrated Michelin three-star restaurant when it opened a companion hotel in 2017.