Pintxos and pensiónes: where to stay on a budget in San Sebastián

talo urban rooms, san sebastian
The owners of TALO Urban Rooms have done away with the parts of a hotel that are irrelevant to a good night’s sleep and allowed their nesting instinct to run wild

Despite San Sebastián’s posh vibe, it houses a network of pensiónes in humble (but typically sparkling clean) surroundings. Luckily for the budget traveller, these are often in the most desirable locations, smack in the middle of the Old Town and its pintxo hubbub. Every euro saved is another one that goes towards that break-the-bank Michelin meal, so check out these hotels to make the most of your Basque Country budget.

Hotel La Galería

San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

Stepping into Hotel La Galería is like stepping into the set of a Wes Anderson movie. From the stately exterior, whose stone was excavated from the mountain just a few yards away, to ancient keys hanging in the relic-stuffed reception area, this hotel oozes history and uniqueness. Rooms are named after famous painters, and each features a replica of one of its namesake’s paintings. Right on Ondarreta beach, it's one of the only hotels in San Sebastián to have front-row beach status. The seven parking spaces are free, and staff are happy to fix you a coffee, stock your room with ice, or help you with other needs at any hour. Laundry service is also available.
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From £ 103
per night
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Ibaia et Arramak

San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

Ibaia Et Arramak is the Millennial version of a traditional Spanish pensión. Floors are cement, tones are muted and lightbulbs are exposed with retro filaments. In short, a hipster design-lover’s paradise. No expense was spared in the details of this guesthouse; every chair is designer and every light fixture could start a conversation. The kitchen is spacious, with a huge island, outfitted with a microwave, coffee machine, refrigerators stocked with milk, juice and chocolate, and burners to cook your own dinner if so desired. The local spa and the nearby parking deck are discounted for guests' use, and there's a garden.
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From £ 109
per night
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Pensión Aldamar

San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

Pensión Aldamar’s tempting location is only the tip of the iceberg. This 10-room guest house is pleasant and up-to-date, with extras not usually included in a pensión. A free minibar surpasses the generosity of most hotels, so drink up on the balcony overlooking the Old Town. The facilities are also superb. Their digital game is on point: card key entry as smooth as that of any neighbouring hotel and the Wi-Fi is fabulous. There is a common area with a sofa and a coffee machine, as well as umbrellas on loan for the city’s numerous rainy days. The Zurriola beach is one block away, and La Concha beach is about five minutes’ walk.
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From £ 129
per night
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Pensión Altair

San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

This two-star pensión in the increasingly popular Gros neighbourhood boasts fresh, clean rooms with modern character and an emphasis on comfort. Warm greys and lightly playful upholstered walls are the common thread throughout the eight rooms (one individual and seven doubles). Attention to detail takes these rooms from basic to better-than-average: three Wi-Fi networks, chenille throws, wall-mounted televisions, bottles of water, and extra-comfortable beds and pillows. In a city where most 'budget' options are frozen in time, family-owned Altair stands out for its stylish décor and attention to detail.
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From £ 104
per night
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Pensión Bule

San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

Pensión Bule’s style is classic and understated. The rooms are clean and airy, with white walls that allow the elegant, clean-lined wood and iron furniture to sign. Breezy, moderate luxury is what they are going for, an ethos similar to that of the entire city. The facilities are relatively grandiose for a pensión: a common area, stylish in dark grey linen and natural jute rugs, has reading material and a complimentary coffee bar. Rooms are technologically on par with local hotels, from their electronic safe to their wall-mounted television to the climate control, and bathrooms are stocked with Agua de Colonia Concentrada toiletries.
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From £ 143
per night
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Pensión Casa Nicolasa

San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

This boutique guesthouse is ultra cosy. Pine walls and headboards give the rooms a light and comfortable feel and lend the pensión a fresh, healthy vibe. The art decorating the walls of the hallways and rooms is an interesting mixture of traditional topics and styles with avant-garde splashes of colour and funky, modern styles, like a colourful screenprint of Basque jai alai players. The 11 rooms at Casa Nicolasa are nicer than most hotels in the area. Dark wood parquet flooring and exposed stone walls lend a lovely, authentic feel. Standard rooms are a decent size, and feature modern climate control functions to ensure comfort.
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From £ 129
per night
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Pensión ITURRIZA

San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

What Pensión Iturriza lacks in quirkiness and character, it makes up for by hitting a homerun in the practicality department. Apart from a spare flower or two, decoration is eschewed in favour of an inoffensive, clean look. Before opening, the owners did a feng shui and geobiological study to assure the perfect placement of beds and rooms. It’s all quite relaxing. But mainly Iturriza gets high rankings on location because it pulls off the near impossible: a peaceful vibe in the Parte Vieja of San Sebastián. It's located on one of the quietest streets of the buzzy old town, but is still convenient for all the pintxo bars.
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From £ 139
per night
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Sagarlore

Astigarraga, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

This cosy and stylish converted farmhouse sits on the outskirts of the Basque cider capital, Astigarraga. At only 15 minutes from San Sebastián, it's a comfortable, luxe rural option for those who prefer mountain to beach and like their prices reasonable instead of inflated. A plain, purple-maroon exterior belies a tastefully decorated and cosy interior. Sagarlore invents and embraces modern Basque farmhouse chic: stone walls, lots of wood, and with a bit of tile and white-painted brick thrown in. The facilities are low-key and minimal, as is to be expected in a 'rural' hotel. The most interesting is the outdoor space, which includes a lovely terrace fit for a Basque country home.
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From £ 105
per night
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TALO Urban Rooms

San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain

8 Telegraph expert rating

Talo is Finnish for 'home'. And in the local Basque language, 'eta lo' is a phrase similar to ‘time for bed’. The owners set out to make a guesthouse that does just that – doing away with parts of a hotel that are irrelevant to a good night’s sleep and allowing their nesting instinct to run wild. The spot is seriously stylish. Tiles and untreated planks of pine alternate to distinguish the various zones, and the rooms are white walled with polished concrete touches. Every detail, from the lightbulbs to the sink countertops, ticks the hip and stylish box, and looks like it's ready for its Insta-closeup. Even the logo was designed by a famous local graphic artist.
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From £ 107
per night
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