Caravan Cinema’s location is ideal; the only thing missing is the Guggenheim. The guesthouse sits right next to the river in Bilbao’s old quarter — spot on for exploring the old town, but with the centre’s shops at hand as well. Plaza Nueva, with its legendary pintxo bars, is a napkin toss away.
Style & character
Situated on two floors of an ancient building, the hotel nevertheless feels light-filled and new. The owner himself executed the interior design, sourcing artisan bathroom fixtures from England and selecting even the bedroom radios with care. Each room is dedicated to a film director, which gives the place a fun character, replications feel a bit heavy-handed, for instance in the case of the canvas-printed movie posters.
Service & facilities
The service is highly personalised, with a staff whose hours are paired down but are on call around the clock. They are smiling and willing to guide guests, pulling out a personalised map of Bilbao and marking it up with their favourite sights and pintxos. There is a room for storing luggage pre- and post-check in and a common area with a few nice vintage-style leather chaises. The hotel only has one parking space, though a public parking garage is only two blocks away.
The 10 rooms have their own quirks and floorplans, as expected in a 200-year-old building. There is also a two-bedroom apartment located in an adjacent building. My room had an exposed brick-stone wall from the original building. The vintage theme is a constant, even in stylish accessories like a Marshall radio with iPhone and USB inputs. Each room has a Nespresso machine — not bad for a guesthouse in the pension category; in fact, better than many hotels. Turndown includes sweets. The luxurious showerhead and water pressure in the vintage tile-lined bathroom is stellar, with organic toiletries provided. All this vintage-ness, however, comes with a caveat: the ancient drainage system requires a noisy machine to empty it every five seconds when you shower.
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Food & drink
The hotel has no dining facilities on the premises. However, they do have a breakfast voucher arrangement with a local bakery, and €3.50 (£3) gets you a voucher that is good for coffee, croissants or toast and an orange juice.
Value for money
Double rooms from €65 (£56) in low season; and from €105 (£90) in high. Breakfast from local bakery €3.50 (£3). Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
The apartment and larger rooms, with fold-out sofa beds, are suitable for families. The charge for extra people in a room is €25 (£21) per night.