Not many hotels can boast a 30-foot tall puppy made of flowers outside one door, and an amazing gelato shop outside the opposite door.
Bilbao’s Gran Hotel Domine sits in an enviable location, just across a four-lane street from the Guggenheim Museum’s front terrace. The famous Puppy sculpture sits in full view outside the lobby and lower level windows of the Domine.
The hotel itself, which is regarded as a five-star location, was designed and built after the Guggenheim Museum. It fits well with the Museum’s architecture and intent. Inside the Domine lobby, you’ll find that the waiting area itself has functional pieces of art – notably a funky red couch.
At check in, you’ll find most every member of Domine staff speaks English, and are highly accommodating. Check-in is swift, cab calls are quick, and reasonable wishes are granted.
The hotel’s distinct design continues as you head to your room. Even the room numbers and hallway markings are included in the in-house art show. Rooms are plush and confortable, with signature soap you have never seen before.
One of the better features of the hotel is the rooftop restaurant Doma. This is the setting for the hotel breakfast buffet, which itself is extravagant. Westerners will appreciate the choice of pancakes, waffles, and eggs – just like home. Better yet, the outdoor terrace of Doma provides amazing views of the surrounding landscape. From here, you can see the top of the Puppy’s head in full bloom.
The ground level of the hotel features Le Café Metropol. The entire front wall of this café is glass, providing great view of the museum, and satisfying people-watching. In contrast, the ground floor also contains the bar Splash and Crash. Here you can be the object of other people’s watching, up until 3:00 AM on the weekends.
Just outside the back of the lobby, at the side street, is the Amorino Gelato Au Naturale shop (translation for gelato: ice cream). This is a franchise gelato/cake/milkshake shop, with colorful options. From here, you can take the most scenic walk you have ever taken with an ice cream cone.
Rack rates at Gran Hotel Domine can be found for as low as 143€ ($180 U.S.) for a two person Domine room. Prices go up from there for deluxe rooms and junior suites. For an even higher price, the Domine offers Guggenheim Suites: sixth-floor rooms with terraces and direct views of the Guggenheim Museum. These suites also contain artwork from the designer of the hotel, Javier Mariscal. If you want to go really crazy, the presidential suite has all of this, plus amenities from Bulgari.
But, the view of the Puppy from the first floor is always free.