Home > SANSEbay Review
Updated: July 30, 2020
SANSEbay Hotel – A modern, bright, and affordable hotel with fabulous views of La Concha Bay.
“Sanse” (san-say), short for San Sebastián, is what locals affectionately call their city, and this hotel, one of the city’s finest, sits right on the harbor with views of La Concha Bay. Inside you’ll find an efficient, family-run boutique hotel in the Parte Vieja, wedged between Monte Urgull and the water. It’s seconds from some of the city’s best eateries and a hop, skip, and jump from either the Aquarium or La Concha Beach. Newly renovated, all rooms offer fabulous sea views. SANSEbay’s thoughtful extras, such as bicycle rental, minibars, and Netflix on the in-room Smart TVs, set it apart from other small hotels, as do its cool Scandi-influenced minimalist interiors.
SANSEbay – Location
- Address: Calle Mari 21, San Sebastián.
- Nearest Bus: Local buses can be caught on the Boulevard (0.3 mile, 5-minute walk).
- Area: The hotel is in the Parte Vieja (old town), right on the puerto (port). It’s the absolute best place for first-timers as it is packed with attractions (La Bretxa market, the harbor and Aquarium, stunning Plaza de la Constitución, San Telmo Museum, historic churches, and Mount Urgull with its hilltop castle-museum, to name a few), and it has the most concentrated number of pintxo (pin-cho) bars in the city.
- How to Get There: From San Sebastián Airport, the hotel is approximately 30 minutes (13 miles) via car or 50 minutes via public transport. From Bilbao Airport, the hotel is approximately 90 minutes (62 miles) via car or public transport. If taking public transport, you’ll either come into the main bus station (Donostiako Autobus Geltokia) and the long-distance (Renfe) Donostia-San Sebastián train station (1 mile, 17-minute walk), which are beside each other on the east side of the River Urumea, or the Amara regional train station (1 mile, 17-minute walk) just south of the Área Romántica.
- Handy to: La Concha Bay, Aquarium, Monte Urgull.
SANSEbay – The Basics
- Ages: The hotel attracts guests of all ages and is very child-friendly.
- View: Most rooms have views over the port to La Concha Bay and Mount Igueldo. The Deluxe Apartment, on the top floor, has the best views.
- Private Pools/Jacuzzis: No private pools or jacuzzis.
- Laundry: Laundry services available (extra charge).
- Parking: There are parking spaces for clients below the hotel (€30/day).
- Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
- Extras: Bike rentals, climate control, discounts on activities and experiences nearby, blackout curtains, airport transportation (extra charge).
- When to Book: Book well ahead if you’re planning on coming during one of the city’s major festivals (January, August, September, December), during high season (May-October), or over Christmas.
- How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
- Phone: +34 943 435 724
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: sansebayhotel.com
SANSEbay – Amenities
- Pool: No pool.
- Spa: No spa.
- Fitness Center: No fitness center.
- For Disabled Guests: The hotel has an elevator and there is 1 fully accessible room for wheelchair users.
- For Families: Childcare can be arranged (extra cost) and baby cots provided for free.
- Activities: Exclusive discounts on activities and experiences nearby.
SANSEbay – Food and Drink
- Restaurant/Bar/Breakfast: Food and drinks are available at the cafeteria in the lobby from 7 am-11 pm, including baked goods from Galparsoro (see below), smoothies, homemade cookies and cakes, potato omelets and other types of egg dishes, charcuterie and cheese platters, hot drinks (good coffee), cereal, yogurt, and alcoholic drinks.
- Room Service: No room service.
SANSEbay – Rooms
- Room Types: Petit Interior Patio ● Small Seaview ● Standard Double ● Double Comfort with Terrace ● Deluxe Room with Views ● Family Comfort with Terrace ● Deluxe Family Room ● Cozy 1 Bedroom Apartment ● Smart 2 Bedroom Apartment ● Deluxe 2 Bedroom Apartment ● Panoramic Sea View Apartment
- Smoking Rooms: SANSEbay is 100% smoke-free.
- Best Room: The Panoramic Sea View Apartment is not only the largest choice, but it also boasts the best views. It is spacious, with 2 bedrooms, a living room, and a bathroom. Features include a sofa, an extendable dining table, a rain shower, as well as the mod-cons all rooms come with: climate control, a 40” Smart TV with Netflix, plus a desk, minibar, hairdryer, robes, a bidet, and a safe.
- Family Rooms: There are 2 family rooms that sleep up to 4 people, as well as 2-bedroom apartments that can sleep up to 6.
SANSEbay – Local Transport
- Walking: San Sebastián is excellent for walking and Lasala Plaza is well placed to explore most of the main attractions on foot. Within a 15-minute walk, you can get to everywhere in the Parte Vieja, Área Romántica, and Gros, and in 25 minutes, you can reach the Tabakalera in Egia or the Miramar Palace in Antiguo.
- Bus: The city is served by local buses known as D-Bus and regional buses known as Lurraldebus, as well as long-distance coaches. Many D-Bus and Lurraldebus lines can be caught from the Boulevard (0.3 mile, 5-minute walk). Long-distance and international buses can be caught from the main bus station (Donostiako Autobus Geltokia), just east of the River Urumea at the María Cristina Bridge (1 mile, 18-minute walk).
- Train: Regional trains come into Amara Station (1 mile, 17-minute walk), while long-distance (Renfe) and international trains come into the main station on the east side of the River Urumea (1 mile, 17-minute walk).
- Taxis, Uber, Lyft: Taxis are well regulated in the city; there is an official tariff and only licensed companies are allowed to operate. Taxi ranks are numerous and there is one close to the hotel on the Boulevard (0.2 mile, 5-minute walk). If you need to book in advance, try Taxi Donosti, which offers a 24-hour service (+34 943 46 46 46).
SANSEbay – What’s Nearby?
Recommended Nearby Tours
- Electric Bike Tour – As San Sebastián sprawls along the coast (and over a few hills), electric bikes are a fantastic way to get around. The company, Go Local, offers free walking tours and bike rentals from their office in Plaza Sarriegi, right by La Bretxa Market, behind the main tourist office on the Boulevard. 6-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Mimo – Located in the basement of Hotel Maria Cristina, this reputable company offers several high-end gastronomic experiences, including pintxo tours, wine tours, and private cooking classes. 11-minute walk (0.6 mile).
- Pintxos Like a Local – This guided tour of the historic center’s best pintxo bars is fabulous, with tons of fun facts and a good range of bars and local delicacies included in the price; the same company also does cider tours if you fancy getting out of the city. Tours set out from the cathedral, a 12-minute walk (0.6 mile) from the hotel.
Best Nearby Pintxo Bars
There are hundreds of bars in this city and nearly all of them serve some sort of pintxo, aka the Basque version of tapas. Whether they come hot or cold, from the kitchen, pre-prepared on the bar, or grilled on skewers, the pintxos here are second to none; every local has their favorite place. Some are bar-restaurants, some are more like fast-food joints, while others are bars with snacks, but all of the picks below will offer amazing tapas washed down with good drinks. Pintxos are cheap, but eating several (plus drinks) can soon add up, so look out for pintxo-pote offers, where a drink plus tapas will set you back just €1 or €2.
- Atari – Bar-restaurant outside the basilica with exceptional pintxos like artichokes with duck. Make sure to try the seasonal specials. 1-minute walk (100m).
- La Mejillonera – This place is unmissable for its fresh mussels and patatas bravas washed down with a beer or wine. 2-minute walk (150m).
- A Fuego Negro – Michelin-recommended trendy and avante garde pintxos; bookings and tasting menus available. 2-minute walk (150m).
- Txepetxa – Anchovies, anchovies, and more anchovies served dozens of ways on a slice of baguette. A fish lover’s paradise. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Borda Berri – A local favorite for its changing menus of fresh cooked small plates. Pretty much everything is great, but the risottos (actually made from orzo pasta rather than rice) are fantastic. 5-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Bar Sport – A really traditional haunt and favorite among locals, who rightfully love the fried foie gras and txangurro (spider crab) crepes. 5-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- MendaurBerria – Don’t let the somewhat sterile interiors put you off: the flavors this place packs into its small plates are wonderful. 5-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Rojo y Negro – Unlike many other places that only open for lunch and dinner, this place is open all day everyday (7 am-midnight) and serves pintxos as well as heartier mains and breakfasts. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- The New Sansse – Contemporary pintxos as well as grilled meats and burgers in a trendy modern space. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- La Espiga – This place might look slick and modern with its distinctive wood and muralled interior, but it is in fact one of the city’s oldest bars and its food carries the mark of a generations-old family-run business. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- Casa Valles – This place claims to have invented the ubiquitous gilda pintxo (a stick with green peppers, an anchovy, and an olive, named for the famous film), but don’t miss its other offerings; all are excellent value. 15-minute walk (0.7 mile).
Best Nearby Restaurants
The area is known for its extraordinary and creative high cuisine, and there are a handful of world-famous restaurants that have 2 or 3 Michelin Stars ($$$$) a short distance out of San Sebastián, including: Arzak (2.5 miles, 10-minute taxi ride), Martín Berasategui (5 miles, 18-minute taxi ride), Akelaŕe (4 miles, 18-minute taxi ride), and Mugaritz (7 miles, 20-minute taxi ride). But even if you can’t travel, there are several 1-star options in the city, including Amelia (0.6 mile, 11-minute walk) and Kokotxa (50m, 1-minute walk). Reservations are recommended at all restaurants in San Sebastián, especially when there are views involved.
- La Fabrica – Chic, contemporary fine dining with a daily menu, tasting menu, and a la carte dishes amid exposed brick and copper walls. $$-$$$$. 1-minute walk (100m).
- Casa Urola – While this restaurant has been an old-town staple since the 1950s, it is only in the last decade that its plates have become artistic masterpieces thanks to Chef Pablo Loureiro Rodil. $$-$$$. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Mariñela – Super-fresh fish and seafood at this friendly family-run joint on the harbor. $$-$$$$. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Ekeko – Excellent, hip Peruvian restaurant offering totally wild flavors, should you need a break from Basque. $-$$. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Bodegón Alejandro – Outstanding basement restaurant that does hearty Basque dishes with the best ingredients. Informal and friendly. The lunch menu is extremely good value. $$-$$$$. 5-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Astelena 1997 – Wonderful, refined Basque cuisine in a romantic modern dining room. $$$-$$$$. 7-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Ni Neu – In the Kursaal, this place has a superb location and is a great place to dine any time of day. $-$$$. 11-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- Kata4 Oyster Bar – Specializes in oysters and champagne, but offers delectable entrées and desserts, too. $$-$$$. 11-minute walk (0.6 mile).
Nearby Cafes, Bakeries, & Confectioners
- Galparsoro – Artisanal bakery in the old town where delicious bread, croissants, and local specialties roll out of the ovens. Arrive as close as possible to opening hours (8 am & 4:30 pm) to get the best as there are often lines out the door. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Koh Tao – Quirk, cozy cafe with graffiti on the walls, good brunch-style food, and excellent coffee. The kind of place freelancers love. 9-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Otaegui – Historic confectionery, founded in 1886 and specializing in blocks of marzipan turrón and pantxineta, a Basque layered almond cream cake. The original store is in the Parte Vieja (0.2 mile, 5-minute walk) and there’s a café in the Plaza del Buen Pastor (0.6 mile, 11-minute walk).
Best Nearby Bars
Had your fill of pintxos bars? Try one of the “regular” bars or clubs below.
- Gu – In the iconic boat-shaped building on the harbor, Gu’s focus in the early evening is delectable cocktails – perfect for a sundowner looking over La Concha – before it turns up the music to party into the early hours. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Dioni’s – This so-called “Coffee Bar and Disco Pub” has been a stalwart of the Sanse scene for decades. Go for a gentle drink and pintxo on the terrace during the day, or party until the early hours every weekend. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Altxerri JazzBar – Cozy jazz bar in a cave-like basement. Live music, great cocktails, and late closing. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
Nearby Shopping & Cool Shops
The 2 main shopping hotspots are Parte Vieja, especially Calle Mayor, and Área Romántica, in the streets around the Mercado San Martín (see below, under Markets). It’s worth bearing in mind that many shops – especially in the Parte Vieja – close for lunch from around noon-4 pm. Many places shut altogether on Sundays and holidays.
- Alboka Artesania – For every weird and wonderful Basque souvenir you could hope for. Right on the Plaza de la Constitución. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Pohorylle – Beautifully crafted and chic, these unisex canvas and leather bags are handmade in the Basque country from Spanish materials and natural dyes. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Casa Ponsol – If you want to get the San Sebastián look and don a hat (preferably a beret), look no further than this beautiful old store founded in the 1830s. 5-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Perfumería Benegas – Run by the Benegas family since 1908, this must be one of the loveliest perfume stores in the world. As well as international brands, their own line of toiletries is covetable. 6-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- auka – Concept store selling fine things, be they clothing, perfumes, children’s toys, accessories, or simply objects of lust. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- SKFK – Sustainable and ethical womenswear brand that offers chic urban garments made from recycled fibers. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Loreak Mendian – This cult brand was born in San Sebastián, and there are separate womenswear and menswear stores. It shuns seasonal fashion by developing high-quality basics with a twist: bold zippers, odd materials like neoprene, luminous colors, and oversized scarves. Both stores are a short walk. Store 1: 7-minute walk (0.4 mile). Store 2: 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Mimo San Sebastian Gourmet Shop – This gourmet food shop is one of the best places in town to find high-end delicacies to take home with you or savor as they are, as well as English-language books on pintxos. The same company runs tours and experiences too (see above under tours). 11-minute walk (0.6 mile).
- Pukas – These guys have been hand-crafting surfboards and beach bum apparel in San Sebastián since the 1970s and have a store in the Parte Vieja (0.1 mile, 3-minute walk) and a surf school/board rental shop in Gros (0.7 mile, 14-minute walk).
- Room 278 – Trendy San Sebastián related graphic design slapped onto prints, canvas bags, mugs, and more. 15-minute walk (0.7 mile).
- Parte Vieja: The city’s most charismatic neighborhood offers a grid of narrow pedestrianized lanes which create a convivial atmosphere for the city’s favorite pastime: pintxo-bar-hopping. The best streets for this are 31 de Agosto/Abuztuaren 31 and Fermín Calbetón, although there are places with wonderful food on almost every street in this part of the city, including on the magnificent Plaza de la Constitución, where you can see the original Ayuntamiento building, as well as the balconies-cum-viewing platforms from the days when bullfights used to be held here. The square is at its best (and busiest) during one of the city’s many festivals. Near the plaza are 2 of San Sebastián’s loveliest churches: the baroque Basílica de Santa María del Coro, with its unmistakable statue of the city’s eponymous martyr, Saint Sebastian, has a cavernous interior and interesting sculptures, especially the cross by Eduardo Chillida; and the Iglesia de San Vicente, from the early 16th century, which used to form part of the city wall. Its altarpiece from 1586 is overwhelmingly tall and the church is renowned for its stained glass. The San Telmo Museoa offers an in-depth look at Basque culture, which can feel impenetrable to the uninitiated, and there’s a fabulous restaurant inside. A couple of blocks from the museum is Mercado de la Bretxa, which dates back to the 1870s. Today, it’s split into different areas including a food market (see markets, below) and a mini-mall in one of the historic buildings. Everything in the Parte Vieja can be reached within an 8-minute walk.
- Área Romántica: The so-called Romantic Area is the real heart of the city. It houses most of the administrative buildings, banks, chain stores, and traditional plazas for which the Spanish are famed, and on top of this, it has a graceful unified look, thanks to the excellent town planning and architecture built in this zone during the Belle Époque. To see this area in its full glory, simply stroll along the beachside promenade around Bahía de la Concha, where there is ornate ironwork and the beautiful Cafe del Mar, La Perla Spa, strangely exotic Parque Alderdi Eder, and Ayuntamiento (city hall). On the River Urumea side, there’s the wonderfully symmetrical Teatro Victoria Eugenia next to the glamorous 5-star Hotel Maria Cristina as well as the resplendent Puente María Cristina (Maria Christina Bridge). Don’t miss the 2 main plazas in this neighborhood: Plaza del Buen Pastor, which features the neo-gothic Catedral del Buen Pastor and the Basque culture center, Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea, which has regular exhibitions; and Plaza Gipuzkoa, which features a verdant central square – complete with a duck pond – the regional council headquarters, and shops and bars sheltered under colonnaded sidewalks. Everything in the Área Romántica is within a 15-minute walk from the hotel.
- Kursaal & Playa Zurriola: On the eastern side of the River Urumea is Zurriola Beach, where the winds whip up brutal waves, making the city a mecca for surfing. If this is why you are in town, head straight to one of the surf schools on the seafront to rent a board or find a teacher. Unmissable is the uber-modern Kursaal, designed by Rafael Moneo. It always has great programming for concerts, from opera and ballet to jazz and pop, as well as a tasty restaurant. Further east, you’ll come to the Sagüés sea wall, the Dove of Peace statue, and after a hike up Monte Ulía, the Michelin-starred restaurant Mirador de Ulía at a gorgeous look-out point. Mount Ulía also marks the start of a stunning coastal park covering some 32 hectares, which includes a section of the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James) pilgrimage hike. It’s an 11-minute walk (0.6 mile) to the Kursaal, from where it’s a further 12-minute walk (0.6 mile) along the beach to the base of Mount Ulía.
- Puerto & Monte Urgull: On the peninsula jutting out of the middle of the city stands Monte (mount) Urgull, with the port cradled in its south-western corner. There are several routes up to the top of the hill but most people approach it via the path behind the San Telmo Museoa, the passageway beside the basilica, or via the puerto (port/harbor), where there are fantastic seafood restaurants, and the world-class Aquarium with its walkthrough ocean tunnel (complete with sand tiger sharks). Approaching Monte Urgull from here will not only give you the chance to check out the schedules for boat trips to Isla Santa Clara (the little island in the middle of the bay), but it will also bring you to Jorge Oteiza’s magnificent contemporary sculpture Construcción Vacía (Empty Construction). Up Urgull itself is a tangle of trails flanked with exotic fauna that lead to a fortified castle, Castillo de la Mota, which houses the Casa de la Historia, a city museum. There’s also a 40-foot statue of Christ, a chapel, and an ‘English Cemetery’. From the hotel, it’s a 6-minute walk (0.3 mile) to the Aquarium and a further 10-15 minutes to Monte Urgull’s summit.
- Tabakalera & Around: If you arrived by public transport, you may have already seen the city’s premier culture destination, the Tabakalera, as it is right by the main national and international train station as well as the bus terminal. Set in a sensitively renovated old tobacco factory, the huge building not only houses free exhibitions and events, but also stores, cafes, and a rooftop lookout point with fabulous views. It’s set next to the Parque Cristina Enea with its rolling hills, exotic plants, and a dramatic pedestrian bridge over the train tracks. It’s a 20-minute walk (1 mile) from the hotel to the Tabakalera via the stunning Puente María Cristina (Maria Christina Bridge).
- Bahía de la Concha: The wide yellow crescent of La Concha Bay calls you as soon as you orientate yourself in the city: it is unmistakable and unmissable. If it’s a nice day, head straight to Playa de la Concha (La Concha Beach), which usually has crystalline aqua waters. A stroll west from the hotel along the glorious Belle Èpoque promenade will take you past La Perla Spa to Palacio Miramar (with its lovely gardens) and on to Ondarreta Beach in the Antiguo neighborhood (see below) via a dramatic pedestrian foot tunnel. Meanwhile, walking east will take you through the Parque Alderdi Eder, the de facto main town square, to the grand Ayuntamiento (city hall) and beyond to the Parte Vieja and the puerto (port/harbor). It’s an 8-minute walk (0.4 mile) to the beach, 14-minute walk (0.7 mile) to La Perla, and 25-minute walk (1 mile) to Miramar Palace.
- Playa de Ondarreta & Monte Igueldo: A walk around La Concha Bay to the neighborhood of Antiguo is a must for any trip to this city. The first place you’ll come to is the whimsical English-style Palacio Miramar with its lovely gardens – a favorite hangout spot for locals. From here you can either wander into Antiguo town, where there are plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants clustered around Calle Matia, or head down to the beach. Walk west towards Mount Igueldo to experience the hair-raising antique funicular railway which zips up to the top of the hill for spectacular views, a couple of bars, and a small amusement park. Or, continue on the seafront path to get round to Eduardo Chillida’s Peine del Viento (Wind Comb), a wonderful cluster of statues that during rough seas do appear to interact with the elements. It’s about a 35-minute walk to all these places.
Nearby Markets or Grocery Stores
- Mercado de la Bretxa – These days, the market features a few dozen stalls in and under Plaza la Bretxa, but there’s evidence all around the plaza of its former splendor. The subterranean part of the market also houses a Lidl for anyone needing basic supplies. Stores around the plaza, like Aitor Lasa and Solbes, offer gourmet produce, specialty ingredients, and locally made preserves. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Mercado San Martín – While there has been a market on this spot since 1884, the modern mall is functional rather than fascinating. Nevertheless, there’s an FNAC department store as well as a food hall with stalls selling fresh produce alongside cured meats, cheeses, street food, and smoothies. There’s also a supermarket in the basement. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).