Synonymous with Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury seaside hotels, San Sebastián is one of Spain’s most expensive – and enjoyable – cities to visit.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on accommodation to immerse yourself in this Basque city’s dynamic foodie culture, which centres on bite-sized open sandwiches called pintxos. From cosy boutiques to party-loving surf camps, here’s our pick of the best hostels and B&Bs in this classy coastal destination – bookable on Culture Trip.
Surfers are well catered for at this hostel in the hip Gros neighbourhood: board storage and gear-rental facilities are available and Playa de La Zurriola, San Sebastián’s main surfing beach, is a five-minute stroll away. Occupying a former car repair workshop, its warehouse-like doubles, family rooms and dorms feature windows with thick black frames, black leather sofas, whitewashed brick walls and private bathrooms. All include breakfast, and access to paid parking is just down the road – for easy exploring, hire a bike from reception.
Kitted out with wall-mounted surfboards, exposed piping and mismatched furniture, Koisi’s bar offers a mean tortilla and a great selection of fruit smoothies and craft beers. Also on-site are the rooftop terrace, a common room with board games, a library and a bike rental service. Accommodation consists of double and family rooms and mixed or female-only dorms with box bunks – all have their own bathrooms with gleaming subway tiles, and most have great sea or mountain views.
A top choice for sociable solo travellers, this hostel’s activity offering includes cider house dinners, pintxo-making classes, jogging trips and pintxo tours of the bar-packed Gros neighbourhood. In quieter moments, perfect your yoga on the roof terrace or settle down with a book in a typically Basque lounge of chunky stone walls and wooden beams. Modern dorms and double rooms have shared bathrooms, and let in tons of natural light through their tall, wooden-shuttered windows.
The pub at this surf-mad hostel is a street food specialist – try the sandwich of Texan-style pulled pork, caramelised onions and home-made BBQ sauce wedged between slices of artisanal brioche. Situated a block back from Playa de La Zurriola, Etxea also offers a surfing school which caters to all levels, day trips to Cantabria’s best surf spots, and surf-skating tours around the city. Private doubles and shared dorms showcase specially commissioned works by local artists.
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This hostel’s brightly lit, open-plan living space features a huge, Dali-esque mural of a whale – balea in Basque – as well as a kitchen and dining area, old-school furniture and table football. Sleep on pinewood bunks in compact dorms, all of which have their own reading lights and sockets. The hostel is situated in the residential quarter of Loiola, a 40-minute walk to the centre and beaches – or a 10-minute ride on the bus that stops outside every 30 minutes.
Individually themed doubles and six-person dorms at this ecofriendly hostel take upcycling to a new level. The bedside tables are made with retro suitcases and traveller’s chests, while the home-made bunk beds and headboards are fashioned from reclaimed shutters. It’s situated on Calle 31 de Agosto in the Old Town – the only street in the city that survived the siege of 1813. Staff offer detailed recommendations for everything from cocktail and pintxo bars to nearby hiking trails.
Package surfing breaks don’t come much better than at this party-loving, adrenaline-fuelled academy and hostel. Daily classes are held on the beach of nearby Zarautz, after which you’re free to join yoga sessions or hiking trips, play beach games or meet other travellers back at the converted farmhouse. Amenities include a skate ramp, a huge garden with BBQ, and a palette-and-bamboo bar serving unlimited beer and sangria. San Sebastian is just a 30-minute drive away.
This couple-run boutique offers rooms in which statement walls of red, purple and blue are complemented by exposed stone and hardwood floors. Whether you choose a larger double – complete with terrace, sink, power shower and shared WC – or a smaller ensuite, you’ll have access to a communal kitchen. Fill up with a bright red Smeg fridge, microwave and brekkie essentials such as jams, milk and cereal. Playa de La Zurriola is a block away and it’s a 10-minute walk to the Old Town.
This is a rewrite of an article originally by Esme Fox.
These recommendations were updated on September 24, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.