The traditional Basque exterior gives no warning as to what lies inside Hotel Arguibel: a funky, eclectic mix of antique furniture and decoration with modern paintings and sculptures. It really shouldn’t work, but it does.
Owners Mariannick and Francoise have showcased several prominent local artists, whose work lines the walls. You could argue that they’ve created their own masterpiece: their attention to detail is exceptional – even the light switches are individual designs. Each one of the five vibrant rooms is designed around a famous local (one, somewhat tenuously, is Charlie Chaplin, who once holidayed nearby), and has a private terrace overlooking the mountains or sea. The communal areas are similarly bold and arty: the hall is a chequerboard of black and white tiles and the wine bar is in the library.
Traditional French breakfasts can be eaten on either the terrace or in the sitting room. There’s no restaurant, but the owners are happy to recommend eating places in nearby Guethary, a former fishing port between St. Jean-de-Luz and Biarritz.
The beaches are just one kilometre from the hotel and the area offers plenty of activities from hiking, cycling and golf to markets, festivals and folk dance – you can even take surfing lessons.