10 Reasons To Visit Bilbao, Spain If You’re A Design Lover ⇒ Bilbao, located in the Basque Country, has been establishing itself as a household name since 1997, when Frank Gehry’s groundbreaking Guggenheim Museum opened there. Now, this little-explored city has even more to offer to those that love art and design. Best Design Guides brings you 10 reasons to visit Bilbao if you’re a design lover!
The opening of the museum brought a new life to the city, with an increase in tourism and an improvement in the economy. In following years, other design-world notables like Santiago Calatrava and Philippe Starck followed suit by envisioning the Zubizuri bridge and Azkuna Zentroa (a cultural centre) respectively. Eventually, this mindset extended to local businesses in the form of design-driven hotels, boutiques, and restaurants, transforming Bilbao into a place perfect for a design lover.
Eating & Drinking
Located in the Guggenheim, Nerua is a Michelin-starred restaurant has been quietly elevating the city’s culinary landscape since 2011. Like the museum, Nerua is starkly and simply decorated with an all-white palette, Frank Gehry wood chairs, and undulating ceiling. This allows for chef Josean Alija’s thoughtful, artful cuisine to take the spotlight. The fixed-price menu shifts three times a year and focuses on seasonal products unique to Basque Country.
Opened in 1903, Café Iruña is a cherished city institution that remains one of Bilbao’s design marvels. The space is awash in Moorish flourishes, like intricate tile work and mosaics spanning floor to ceiling, and is ideal for a casual meeting over a drink—or better yet, the house speciality: pintxos morunos. These tender lamb skewers are accompanied by bread and intended to tide you over until your next meal.
Mina is tucked away in a historic building off a pedestrian promenade in the city’s old town, so it’s easy to miss. But once you find it, you’ll be rewarded with an intimate dining room accented by craggy brick, weathered wood, and playful pendant lighting to go with chef Alvaro Garrido’s vibrant tasting menu, which changes daily.
In 2016, Ary and Darío Rowshan transformed their longstanding Persian carpet shop into as a posh cafe. The result continues to pay homage to their family business, evidenced by the carpet-graced ceiling and upholstered bar and stools. From coffee to caviar, there’s something for every appetite, and if you decide one of the decorative carpets would look sharp in your home, the Rowshans take custom orders in their studio downstairs.
This mid-century lounge is introducing beer and wine-loving Bilbaínos to the world of craft cocktails. The decor is punchy and eclectic and fittingly, the drink offerings are equally inventive. And unlike many of the area bars, Sumerian is open every day, until the wee hours of the morning.
Cloaked in all white, Arropame boutique houses buzzy fashion and beauty brands from all over the world, many of which are city exclusives. From gauzy tunics by France’s CristaSeya to facial oils from Australia’s Grown Alchemist, owner Elena Mendiola sells items that aren’t just easy on the eyes but will be used for years to come.
Located in a former warehouse, Persuade is like two boutiques in one. The front displays clothing and accessories from fashion heavyweights including Issey Miyake, Bernhard Willhelm, and Comme des Garçons, while the back room stocks a mix of furniture and other eclectic finds discovered during owner Rosa Orrantia’s travels.
Mosel is a family-run business that, since 1962, has established itself as one of Europe’s top design shops for its highly curated lineup of chic furniture and homewares. there’s plenty of unique Spanish finds, like Cookplay, a line of freeform tableware by local industrial designer Ana Roquero.
Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao
The Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao was designed by a renown creative, Javier Mariscal, and features an impressive collection of contemporary art, including a mesmerizing lobby clock installation commissioned to Stockholm-based design duo Humans Since 1982. The rooms are minimally but thoughtfully appointed and the new lobby bar, Sixty-One, is an ideal spot to kick or cap off your evening.
Miró, Bilbao’s oldest boutique hotel at 16 years old, feels warm and inviting as ever thanks to the timeless creative vision of designer Antonio Miró. A crisp white palette runs throughout the property, save for the occasional pop of colour and original photography. And in place of a bland breakfast buffet, Miró offers a hearty morning spread of local eggs, bread, cheese, and honey, called “The Brown Bread Bag.”
Source: Architectural Digest
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