Time to recount my accommodations on my month long journey. My rule with planning a trip — skimp on transportation, splurge on hotels.
Before AirBnB made it cool to stay at a complete stranger’s house, hotels were the places to see and be seen. If your trying to decide between the two, I side with hotels. It’s simple — location, location, location. The amount of money you save by staying in the residential areas of city, you’ll make up for with transportation to and from.
Which brings me to Hesperia Hotel in Bilbao. I’ll spend the majority of my planning trying to find the right hotel and the right price. For this trip, I was on a budget of keeping it under a $100 a night. RocketMiles was offering 5,500 miles for Virgin Atlantic on a stay here so that was the deciding factor.
My search terms for looking for the right hotel are “trendy,” “hotel bar” and “modern.” These terms might bring images of luxurious interiors, high class clienteles and hoity attitudes but in reality it’s not.
At around $71-$90, the Hesperia provided the style I was looking for and a prime location at the base of the Zubizuri bridge. Thus, a 10-minute walk and you’re at the Guggenheim. A pleasant 17-minute walk along the wide public spaces along the Nervión River and your eating in the Casco Viejo or old town section. Everything of note within Bilbao is a 30-minute walk from the hotel.
Currently on TripAdvisor, it’s ranked 6 out of 42 with 4 stars out of 5, which is what I’ll give it. I’m not nick-picky when comes to critique hotels. The rooms itself was great — clean, enough rooms, bathroom was clean and everything had a pleasing style.
The factor that keeps it from a 5th star is that the WiFi is lackluster to non-existence. With travelers, Wifi has become a major amenity that will make or break their stay. It’s something you want working seamlessly. When it’s spotty and you you see your bars on your phone connection go from 1-2 bars to dreaded X, it will frustrate you to no end. Yup, first world problems.
In getting there from the airport, I ended up taking a cab, mostly because of the light rain. The transit bus that you can take into city center drops you off on the opposite side of the river from the hotel, which is a 15-17 walk with all your gear.