Les Clefs D'Or
Les Clefs D'Or

Your Key To San Sebastián Spain 2024 Les Clefs d’Or Award Nominee

Since the end of the XIX century, Donostia-San Sebastián can proudly say that it has been a touristic city, mostly thanks to Queen María Cristina, who since the late 1880s decided to move with her court to this city during the summer season, attracting aristocrats, nobles, and artists from Europe. The city grew little by little, building a series of majestic buildings with a marked French style.

This city invites you to take an easy walk, sit and have a coffee watching the passers-by, and as I usually recommend to my guests, never stop looking up, since the facades and buildings are truly spectacular.

In my free time, I like to start the day with breakfast around the Plaza del Buen Pastor, admiring the views of the cathedral and its gardens. After recharging my energy, I begin the walking tour along Prim Street, where the portals are part of the city’s monumental complex and still preserve the wrought decorations, as well as the mosaics, stained glass windows, and “Art Nouveau” type ceramics with a great European trend during the Belle Epoque. The street takes us to Plaza Bilbao, a small but charming square thanks to its central fountain.

This is where Woody Allen filmed some scenes for his film “Rifkin’s Festival”, based on our International Film Festival.

I cross to the other side of the city through the Maria Cristina Bridge, the most beautiful bridge in the city for many due to its large streetlights and golden details. On this side of the city, one cannot miss entering Tabakalera, the old tobacco factory, today a cultural space. They have a free entrance rooftop terrace with spectacular views of the horizon.

Take a walk in Cristina Enea Park, the lung of the city built by the Dukes of Mandas. This influential couple was part of the San Sebastian bourgeoisie at the end of the XIX century, and Cristina Enea (Cristina’s place in Basque) was their summer estate. After a brief rest by the pond watching the swans and peacocks, I return to the city center through the Paseo del Urumea, walking along the river beside the garden area with Wallace fountains and French-style houses.

Once we reach the Santa Catalina Bridge, the first bridge built in the city, we find ourselves facing Avenida de la Libertad number 2, where the couturier Balenciaga had his first sewing workshop under the name EISA Costura before moving to Paris.

Passing by the Victoria Eugenia Theater, the main stage of the International Film Festival for decades, we arrive at the Boulevard that separates the city center from the Old Town, the gastronomic area par excellence. Although we know that the city is known worldwide for having the highest number of Michelin stars per square meter along with Paris, we always say that the magic of San Sebastián is not only in the stars; The pintxos are always the big surprise for our visitors, and there is no better plan to end the route than with a small bite. Enjoy!


Izaskun Miranda is a candidate for the 2024 Les Clefs d’Or Award. This article has been published in its original form.

Meet the Author
Izaskun Miranda

When I finished my studies on Tourism, I was not sure where I wanted focus my career. I imagined myself as a tourist guide travelling cities, getting to know other cultures, hosting the world for visitors. When doing the internship at the reception of the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra in 2014, I discovered the profession that is now my beloved passion: being a Hotel Concierge, to be one of the ambassadors of your own city. Since then, I have worked in different hotels and in 2018 I set up at the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra as a concierge, being part of theopening team of the new Hotel from the same property, Villa Favorita, in July 2020. In 2019 I was given my golden keys. I have been a member of the Spanish National Board since March 2022 and I manage the Social Networks of our Section. I am convinced that despite all the challenges we achieve in our profession for our guests, there is no greater pride for a concierge than to be recognised for the golden keys that we carry on our lapels.

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra

The Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra is the eldest accommodation in Donostia-San Sebastián. In 1867 it began as an inn where Queen Isabel II stayed during her exile to France. Since then, many celebrities have stayed with us during these 158 years of history. The hotel has evolved as the city did as well: the rooms still reflect the golden glow of the Belle Époque, but each year it is renovated and adapted to the needs and comforts that our guests require. Decorated with an elegant and traditional design with modern finishes, the 166 rooms, divided into seven floors and nine categories, guarantee nine different experiences and the perfect place to relax and rest with the sound of La Concha Bay. In our spacious and luminous salons, we host different events and celebrations, such as weddings, exhibitions, and congresses. The hotel has two gastronomic areas; on the one hand, the restaurant La Brasserie Mari Galant under the command of chef Mikel Ibero, where they are committed to a traditional Basque cuisine, where guests can enjoy seasonal products and local dishes. On the other hand, the Bar Swing, with the best views of the city, being a meeting point for many locals and business clients daily, where they enjoy our fantastic cocktails.


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