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Boutique luxury in Basque country

This little gem is a 40 minute drive from Bilbao and a 10 minute drive from Gernika. The village is Muxika and the guesthouse is Aldori Landetxea. What a surprise this place was: the town itself is pretty nondescript but the landscape is stunning and the guesthouse modern and slickly designed with all mod-cons. It’s located outside the village and down a laneway. Not that easy to find but worth it when you do.

We loved everything about this place. It has beautiful modern boutique-style bedrooms: ours had one of the biggest beds I’ve ever slept in, luxurious linen and towels, fabulous bathroom with a spa bath, and a large private terrace with views of the lovely countryside. It was so nice to lie in bed in the morning with the doors open to the terrace, a warm breeze blowing in, listening to the sounds of the birds. And the best part: a hammock on the terrace to relax in the evening. Total bliss. All of the rooms are uniquely decorated with quirky memorabilia: ours had brass light fixtures and a vintage bike. Strange, I know, but it actually looked really cool - such a great place to stay.

One of my favourite memories of this place was waking in the middle of the night and curling up in the hammock with a blanket looking at the stars. The night was so clear, the stars were the brightest I’ve ever seen and there wasn’t a sound to be heard except the usual countryside nocturnal rustlings. It was so peaceful. The terrace was also great for some early morning yoga, if that’s your thang.

If all that relaxation and countryside is getting to you, the gorgeous town of Gernika is but a ten minute drive away. It hadn’t been a major draw for us as we’d read in our travel guide that it didn’t have much to offer. Well they were wrong. It’s a great town and well worth a visit. It’s also really pretty with flowers everywhere, and has a nice park with amazing sculptures by Eduardo Chillida and Henry Moore. Gernika is also home to the wonderful Museo de la Paz (Museum of Peace) which documents the history of the town. The museum has a particular focus on the Spanish Civil War and the bombing raid which took place in April 1937, effectively razing this small town to the ground and killing over 1000 people, a painful chapter in its history. The permanent exhibition is really worth a view: the audiovisual room is an eerie experience but profoundly affecting. You may be familiar with Picasso’s iconic painting of the subject, Guernica, now in the Reina Sofia in Madrid. They have replicated the painting on a mural close to the museum as a reminder to all of the horror inflicted on this town.

If you’re still not convinced, what if I tell you that we had one of the best meals of our life in this tiny town? So good that I’ve included a short review of it in my blog Meals to make you weep with gratitude The place is called Zallo Barri and the food was exceptional.

It’s a very pretty part of Spain and definitely worth staying a night or two, if you happen to be in the Bilbao region.

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