The city of Bilbao in Spain's Basque Country is thriving. Its improved fortunes are often put down to the "Guggenheim effect" - the pulling power of Frank O Gehry's stunning museum, which has transformed this one-time industrial powerhouse of northern Spain since it opened in 1997. The Miró Hotel is between Gehry's art cathedral on the river's edge, and the less architecturally head-turning Museo de Bellas Artes. Whether your tastes are modern or traditional you will only have a short stroll.
This hotel is not, as might be assumed, named after the Spanish surrealist Joan Miró, but rather his Catalan compatriot Antonio Miró, one of Spain's leading fashion designers. Best known for his menswear, he uses black and beige with the odd splash of red. In this his - and Bilbao's - first boutique hotel, he has held the red. All the rooms are black and beige throughout.
The comfort factor
The beds are fantastic. All rooms have an LCD TV/DVD player and high-speed internet connection with DVDs, CDs and lap-tops for hire by the day. They also have leather sofas (beige), mini-bar, a desk (beige), and the bedroom and bathroom areas are separated by velvet drapes (beige) allowing you to choose how open-plan your room is. You can see the Guggenheim from some rooms, but if the view matters to you, be careful; the land next to the museum is a building site. Guests have unrestricted use of the Jacuzzi and Turkish bath in the spa and gym.
Black marble throughout, Antonio Miró own brand toiletries. The robes and towels are soft and luxurious and there is a handy extra phone by the loo. But bath-lovers be warned - suites aside, it is showers only.
The food and drink
There is no restaurant, but a glass of champagne is offered at breakfast and it looks up from there. Exotic fruits, local savoury and sweet delicacies, eight types of bread, ham, cheese, yoghurt, nuts cereal, plus eggs and bacon, or pancakes should you so desire. Room service can provide you with a plate of ham or cheese all day with a more extensive menu at meal times. The lack of a restaurant is no hardship as the Basques are the gastronomic champions of Spain. For genuine Basque cuisine look for a restaurant with lots of 'x's, 'z's and 'k's in its name. The Miró Hotel has a cocktail bar with live jazz or blues two Thursdays a month.
Staff are friendly; the guests are middle-youthy art-lovers from across western Europe.
Down the road, in front of the Guggenheim, is Jeff Koons's giant Puppy - a 40ft replica of a porcelain nick-nack covered in live pansies. There is also Sir Norman Foster's gleaming new metro, a revamped airport and landmark bridge by Santiago Calatrava. Great shopping, food, drink, and art. Bilbao does not have a reputation for wild night life, which has so far kept the British hen and stag parties away.
One of the 50 rooms is fully adapted for the disabled and the hotel is wheelchair accessible. There are no special children's facilities but cots and high chairs are available, and you can have an extra bed for a child in your room for €35 (£23).
A single room is €125, a double €165, and a "semi suite deluxe" is €250. Breakfast is €13.50
Miró Hotel, Alameda Mazarredo, 77, 48009 Bilbao, Spain; tel (34) 94 6611880; www.mirohotelbilbao.com Miró Hotel can be booked through Design Hotels UK, reservation number 0800 169 8817, or on international toll-free number 00 800 37 46 83 57, or via their website www.designhotels.comReuse content