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Spaniards come to Santander to revel in its long sandy beaches, excellent seafood and buzzing bar scene. It’s also blessed with some fantastic hotels, all bookable with Culture Trip.
While a major fire in 1941 gutted a good chunk of history in the Cantabrian capital, an urbane forward-facing attitude adds to the appeal of Santander as a destination worth getting your teeth into. Here, we pick out some of the best hotels in town, often with great restaurants attached.
As the name suggests, art takes centre stage here. In the elegant lobby a quirky chandelier is the centrepiece, the restaurant is decorated with bold-patterned wallpaper and there are sculptures sitting on the balconies. The rooms are plush, with luxurious furnishings and shades of royal blue and emerald green, with welcome extras that range from soft robes and coffee machines to large walk-in rain showers and scenic sea views. It all sits to the northeast of the historic centre, close to Parque de Jado.
This four-star hotel brims with character, starting in the bright lobby, which is decorated with a centrepiece chandelier and contemporary artwork. The attached restaurant, Cafeteria Las Bambalinas, serves Cantabrian cuisine made from fresh, seasonal products. And the rooms come in a modern style, with backlit headboards and a muted colour palette. It’s in the centre of Santander, close to the picturesque Plaza Porticada, town hall and cathedral.
Jardín Secreto can be found just northwest of the centre, within easy walking distance of many of the major sites. It’s a relaxed budget-friendly option, with help-yourself hot drinks and a continental breakfast. There are just six rooms, each individually decorated with traditional features such as stone walls or fireplaces. There’s also a lovely garden and a cosy lounge.
The Gran Hotel Sardinero is the most iconic hotel in the city – a palatial white structure standing sentinel over El Sardinero Beach. Its 102 rooms come in either individual, double or junior suite sizes and are decorated in a modern and graceful style, with earthy tones and lots of soft furnishings. Many also feature sea views. There’s also a gourmet restaurant serving quality local cuisine.
Le Petit Boutique sits just one block from El Sardinero Beach in the centre of Santander. It has just seven guest rooms, each named after a city – Paris, New York, Tokyo – with deçor to match. An adults-only retreat, it’s romantic, quiet and intimate. A complimentary breakfast sweetens your stay.
This impressive five-star property is the grande dame of Santander hotels. It faces Playa de los Peligros beach and stands on a hill, overlooking the historic city. The 123 rooms ooze style and luxury, dressed in muted tones and decorated with silky soft furnishings; some offer dazzling sea views. There’s also an indulgent spa, a gym, a gourmet restaurant and a café.
Bahía Santander sits right in the centre, between the Pereda Gardens, the Santander Cathedral and the Centro Botín contemporary arts centre. Also close to both the ferry terminal and the train station, it’s ideal for those on a flying visit. The rooms are stylish and sleek, and offer great city views through floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel also has an excellent restaurant serving traditional Cantabrian cuisine.
Vincci Puertochico is located by the port area, just a 15-minute walk from the historic centre and close to the Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria and the Museo Marítimo del Cantábrico. It’s contemporary and stylish with a slight nautical theme found in blue tones, natural wood and wicker baskets on the walls. Rooms offer sea and marina views, and there’s a large breakfast buffet room plus a classy Taste Bar Lounge, serving snacks and coffees.
Leon Beckenham contributed additional reporting to this article.