A 30-minute drive from Bilbao, overlooking the Natural Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai, sits the majestic Castillo de Arteaga. A neogothic, fortified tower brought to life by Napoleon III back in the 19th century, shaped today as a one-of-a-kind hospitality story.
The Basque Country is blessed with diverse landscapes, strongly rooted culinary traditions, innovative, creative thinking, and an impressive concentration of world-famous culinary addresses. Therefore, it was not long before it became a destination of choice for us, with favorite spots spread all over the region. This year, as well as three springs ago, we let our senses be transported into another era by Castillo de Arteaga. A unique hotel taking over an old imperial residence set in exceptional scenery, maintaining the atmosphere and romance of forgotten ages.
This 13th-century castle was rebuilt by Napoleon III and Eugenia de Montijo when their son was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Biscay. The old structure was upgraded by the French royal family’s architects, resulting in a space befitting the crown. The place keeps the same feeling today. Wrapped in white marble and abundant in perched viewpoints, the property instantly whisks its visitors to a different era. Passing the tall entrance gates of Castillo de Arteaga, you instantly fall in love with the past’s present.
From overnighting in your own tower with private pool to enjoying the marvelous gothic arches and 360-degree views over the territory in the Royal Suite, at Castillo de Arteaga, everything is suited for a king. All interiors masterfully mix together medieval elements, 19th-century furniture with contemporary design, modern technology, and details depicting the surroundings: in-room iron staircase shaped like a bird covey, paintings hanging next to the windows, offering the same stunning view...
The restaurant deserves an article in itself. Recommended by major names in the industry, as well as impressed guests stepping into its idyllic dining room, Castillo de Arteaga’s restaurant is a place to keep in mind regardless of your stay at the castle.
Let’s say you’re planning a simple day in the sun, discovering Laida or Laga, two of the best beaches in the region, located just five minutes from the castle by car. Or a visit to the utterly interesting Urdaibai Bird Center. Or just an adventurous exploration of the surrounding cliffs, rivers, or meadows . Do yourself a favor and book a table at Castillo de Arteaga. The restaurant fits the renowned gastronomic standard of the Basque Country it calls home.
You will be delighted with Castillo de Arteaga’s traditional cuisine with a touch of creativity on local, seasonal ingredients. Like the memorable braised scallop and king prawn on a bed of pumpkin and fennel, or the delicate monkfish roasted in its juice with romesco and garlic sauce.
Every time, they had different variations of tasting menus to fit our desires, all perfectly paired with Spanish and international wines from their well-stocked cellar.
As one would expect, a castle’s basement has perfect conditions for properly preserving wines. An important detail, transformed by Castillo de Arteaga into a widely varied selection of wines from all around the world.
Before our narrative comes to an end, we have a special mention for all the Game of Thrones fans out there. This is the place where part of the actors’ crew stayed during the filming of their seventh season. Important scenes in the series’ plot also integrate amazing spots in the region. Like the 9th-century monastery of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe sitting on the water, few minutes away from the castle. So Castillo de Arteaga is adding new layers to the story, as well as the stunning views around it, and some splendid beaches.