Away from noise and crowds, but you can easily walk to either
Hotel de Brienne is clean, friendly, modern, and located on a quiet street. Mere blocks away are throngs of students in bars along the river or, in another direction, crowds of tourists (and locals) at the Place du Capitole. Go see both, but leave your car in the free hotel garage and walk.
Toulouse is on a big rebuild, so things along Rue D’Alsace Lorraine, the Hotel de l’Opera corner of Place du Capitole and over to Place Wilson are a little torn up. The future in that central shopping area looks good — granite sidewalks and streets are on the way. Meanwhile, it’s another reason to stay a few blocks away and walk over from the Hotel de Brienne.
Parking at the hotel’s underground garage is tight — a reminder to rent a small car in Europe. If it’s not crowded when you arrive, back into your spot. You’ll be happier when it’s time to leave. There’s also more room outside in back.
I only wish the breakfast coffee had been better.
Initially, we were concerned that Room 307 was right by the elevator. No worries. We heard nothing. 307 was remodeled, small but efficiently arranged. Small windows facing the back.
Originally reviewed for Trip Advisor — October 6, 2012
Great location, view, and service
I am biased because I really love the Melia chain. This location does not disappoint. I love things like the Nespresso coffee maker in the room because, coming from the U.S., I am used to seeing Mr. Coffee. Even with George Clooney on their billboards, Nespresso seems so foreign, so much more European.
Our “premium” room, number 808 (one notch up from the basic), included a balcony overlooking a park — the evening favorite for dogs and their owners — and facing the river and hills around Bilbao.
Treat yourself to the one-step upgrade (roughly 20 Euro) from one of the 172 basic rooms and get one of the 18 rooms with park view and large balcony. Save most of the upgrade cost by joining the Melia club
for good deals on room rates, rewards, and (effective March 2013) free internet. Our only bad thing: Hotel parking was 24 euros per night — no worse than anywhere else in Bilbao. Unfortunately, we needed the car for other travel.
If you walk along the river, pretty much any time of the day, you’ll see an assortment of like-minded locals and tourists. The wide walks never seem crowded. You also get a bunch of mind-blowing views of the Guggenheim Museum.
Bilbao really wants you to know they’re more than the Guggenheim. In last September’s vote for a Bilbao “brand,” one of the choices was “Much more than Guggenheim.”
It may be typical of Bilbao’s personality that the “much more than” graphic won, but the tag line was changed to “Be Basque.” Locals are anxious to share their unique Basque perspectives. Extend your stroll into the old part of town, or take the tram that stops near the museum, to find tapas and fun local shops. While snacking on tapas at Bukoi Taberna, we were guided in the proper Basque way to order a small beer — a “zurito” (sounds like “thirito.”)
Originally reviewed for Trip Advisor — November 30, 2012