For my first 4 nights in Spain, I will be visiting Bilbao in the north of Spain. This will be my first time visiting the Basque country and I am certainly excited to be here given that I had not explored this far north before. Bilbao is on the quieter side of things and there is always a dilemma about whether you should base yourself in Bilbao or San Sebastian! Given that we are catching a flight pre and after these 4 nights, I thought that Bilbao will be more suitable. The hotel market is rather weak in town and there aren’t many chain properties in town. We decided to stay at Hotel Ercilla de Bilbao which belongs to the Autograph Collection under Marriott. I am excited to be staying for the first time in an Autograph Collection property. The properties under the portfolio are unique and have their unique history and character but still allows you to enjoy the benefits of staying at a chain hotel. Ercilla de Bilbao actually have its roots from 1972 in Bilbao. They are the second hotel to open doors in this Basque country, it offers both cosy and luxurious accommodations.
Booking Process & Pre Arrival
I book directly with Marriott using my Citi Prestige card. I got the base level Stylish room and my nightly rate was around 149 SGD including taxes. This was brought down by utilising my Citi Prestige 4th-night free benefit to 116.50 SGD a night. Citi Prestige does have its value despite much criticism these days. When you use it well you can really save a lot while on the road. A couple of days out, I can see from the app that I have been upgraded one category to the Stylish Premium room. There isn’t a Hilton in Bilbao which would have been my first choice. Hotel Ercilla de Bilbao features only guest rooms and is spread across only 4 categories. It is a rather boutique hotel. There aren’t any suites here. Although, the Vintage Premium room is much like a junior suite which you will see later on. You can find the breakdown below.
|Stylish||17 – 22 Sqm|
|Stylish Premium||25 – 27 Sqm|
|Vintage||37 – 44 Sqm|
|Vintage Premium||44 Sqm|
The hotel has an excellent location, it is located right in the city centre and within walking distance of most places. With that and the metro, you can access anywhere in Bilbao. In fact, we only took the metro once. The airport bus stops just about a street or two away and that is how I got to the hotel. I arrive around 4pm in the afternoon and was warmly welcomed by the bubbly front desk agent.
This is my first time staying at an Autograph Collection and it is surely nice to have a change. The hotel does have a rather discreet entrance which is kinda incorporated into the surrounding buildings. The hotel lobby is actually like half a level down and you can use the stairs on the sides. The lift might be a better choice if you are having luggage. The bellboy came over to help us with the bags which was a nice touch. It is nice to see that the staff here have a genuine interest in the job. Sandra was lovely! We were then thanked for choosing to stay with them and for our loyalty to Marriott. We inquired about a possibility of a Vintage Premium Room and she immediately say that they might be able to swing it. OMG! Why can’t I have her on all my stays rather than some staff who love to just lie to your face! It is surely nice to stay during low occupancy.
King Vintage Premium Room
I was assigned a Vintage Premium room, the best room in the hotel on level 5. Room 523 to be exact! It is straight down the corridor from the lift. I love the warm tones of the rooms upon entering and the soothing mixture of a cream-based, white palate, wood and gold finishing. It makes me feel very welcoming and homey! The configuration of the room is a little unusual and weird since there are 2 different shower rooms. One to the left and another one to the right of the entranceway. After tons of nights in hotels, this got to be the first time I have seen such a room. I will come back and share on the bathroom later on.
Measuring 44 Sqm the room was super spacious and feels more like a junior suite in my opinion. Just around the corner, you can find the mini-bar area. It consists of an espresso machine with 3 capsules as well as a mini-fridge below that is fully stocked. It’s one of those annoying ones where if you accidentally remove anything, it will be auto charged to your folio. Non-alcoholic drinks in the minibar and 2 complimentary laundry should be included for guests in the Vintage Premium rooms but you do not get this if you are upgraded.
The wardrobe is located right next to it and it is a spacious one. Inside, you can find bathrobes bath slippers, a hairdryer, an ironing kit and a safe.
The living area is to the right of the room and rectangular in shape. There is a couch and an armchair surrounding a gorgeous marble table. This can easily sit 3-4 pax and the setting is great if you are deciding to dine in as well.
A high definition Smart TV is mounted on the wall! Although, there are many channels most of them are mainly in Spanish. Below the TV, you can find a working desk and a chair. It’s pretty comfortable for a short period and outlets can be easily found within reach. Wifi in the room was spotty at times. Left on the desk you can find a bottle of water and these are replenished daily. More water can be requested as well.
Later on, a welcome amenity consisting of some water and macarons were brought over and it was pretty lovely. I was not expecting this treatment here. Furthermore, there’s a card offering a welcome cocktail at the hotel bar.
The bedroom is located to the left of the room with the plush king size bed in the middle. I appreciate how comfortable the mattress is and I had a good rest. The same goes for the pillows, they offer amazing neck support. I hate those that turn to mush with the slightest contact. Flanking both sides of the beds, you can find nightstands. Outlets are within reach and they even had USB outlets. You can control the lights easily here too. I love the little stools in front of the nightstands and they do add up some flair to the place.
The bedroom area has another TV which is a replica to the one in the living room area. There isn’t much of a view here.
While the bathroom is the most “spectacular” aspect of the room it is also the most mind-boggling one. This is the first time in my life that I stayed in a hotel with 2 showers! Yes, you heard me right! Two showers! In two separate rooms! They are located near the entrance. First up on the right, you have the main bathroom which I feel is the original one. The decor was alright and the space was good. It comes with a shower and tub combo and a single sink. Toiletries are house brand but they are of high quality! I love them. Water pressure was alright here!
Then surprisingly to the left, you have another shower room and this gigantic standing shower is the better one. It is nicely decked out in wood and looks like a spa sauna? It’s really super duper spacious! To describe it, let’s just say that, 8 grown-ass adults could stand inside and shower at the same time! It comes with a handheld shower head as well as a rainforest shower. Water pressure and the temperature were amazing here with another set of toiletries. While spacious and comfortable to use, I felt like the space could be better utilised! It doesn’t make sense to have two different shower rooms in a room. This got to be the most mind-boggling set-up I have ever encountered in a hotel.
Turndown service was provided with some chocolates placed on the bed. Housekeeping was a mixed bag though. One of the days, they did not make up my room despite me putting out the tag to do so.
The fitness centre is located on the second floor and is on the basic side. It is just a small space and good for getting a workout or a run if you wish. The place is open 24 hours and no reservations are necessary. You have some treadmills, bikes and equipment. I can also see some exercise balls and weights set inside. Drinking water and sanitizing wipes are provided.
The bar is located just off the lobby and it is a rather nice place. I love the decor and look how retro looking this place it. I love what they did with the place. During my stay, I got drinks there once and really enjoyed it. On the day of check in we receive some vouchers for drinks as part of a welcome amenity. There are plenty of seatings and the bartender who is also working the floor was an absolute gem. He made some really good cocktails and was great with recommendations.
If anyone is interested this is the menu of the bar. Cocktails range around 10 Euros which I would say is decent for hotel pricing. We got a Mojito and a Kendall! Both were excellent and it was served with some mixed nuts. Great touch from the hotel.
This is an excellent offering for Marriott Bonvoy members in Bilbao! I will recommend everyone to stay here when in town. I would love to be back anytime soon. The staff here were a delight and I really love interacting with them. The rates here are decent too. With the lack of Hilton properties in town, this might just be my go to hotel. I won’t mind this Vintage Premium room anytime given how spacious it is. Furthermore, the location is great! Next up, my thoughts on the Basque country! Yo amo España!