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NH COLLECTION VILLA DE BILBAO Bilbao


IN THE HEART OF BILBAO, this NH Collection hotel is perfect for business travellers, providing comfortable rooms, good food and great service. By Catherine Chetwynd


WHERE IS IT? NH Collection Villa de Bilbao lies in the heart of the commercial district, a walking distance from the Guggenheim, the Congress Palace and San Mames football stadium. WHAT’S IT LIKE? Although this is officially a 4-star hotel, the feel of the place is more 5-star from the moment you walk into the large reception area, with minimal clutter and a welcoming bar beckoning from the back. Check-in was efficient and


friendly, and staff were helpful when I tried to check in for my return BA flight in the office area off the lobby, which has a computer and printer; the site did not want to accept my email and Raúl on reception sorted it out. I was offered late check-out for


my late departure and declined, but full marks for offering, rather my having to ask. Also, as I was sitting in the lobby before headling to the airport, Elena handed me some biscuits, saying, “While you are waiting here is something for you”– just what was required to boost my energy after a day on my feet. ROOMS The property has 142 rooms across six categories, and they all include tea and coffee- making facilities. Premium rooms


(of which there are 30) overlook the Gran Via, the city’s tree-lined main avenue. My Superior Double (the


lowest category) had everything I needed. The bed was comfortable, sheets crisp (one of my obsessions) and all rooms come with a pillow menu. AMENITIES Breakfast is a feast provided by a chef who cooks to order. There was lots of variety, including five types of milk. I love nations that do pudding for breakfast; as well as pastries, there were apple and chocolate tarts. The lobby bar was quiet for


a Saturday night, but this was not surprising as a nearby street features lots of pintxos bars; there is excellent eating to be had almost everywhere in Bilbao. BUSINESS There are seven meeting rooms and the location of the property makes it ideal for events of up to 220 (maximum largest room) and for smaller gatherings, organisers can take over one of the suites. VERDICT There is a wonderful team running the hotel, especially on reception. Given the excellent location, this is an ideal hotel for business travellers and well placed for extending a stay into the weekend.


NH Collection Villa de Bilbao lobby and reception


Standard King room


HILTON MADRID AIRPORT Madrid


LIVERPOOL FC’S STAFF STAYED HERE for their recent Champions League Final triumph, and Hilton Madrid Airport is also winning over business travellers. By Justyn Barnes


WHERE IS IT? Five minutes’ drive from the Madrid-Barajas International Airport with a regular complimentary shuttle bus service, the hotel is ideally placed for late arrivals like mine. And central Madrid’s many cultural and gastronomic delights are just 20 minutes away by taxi (or 40 minutes by metro). WHAT’S IT LIKE? The brutalist exterior gives way to the sleek, minimalist interior two interconnected towers, each with an atrium. There’s a monochrome colour scheme with cool marble floors and Valencia-stone walls. The open-plan ground floor of


the South Tower encompasses the main reception, Ferrum Bar, La Plaza restaurant (where a bountiful buffet breakfast is served) and the Reserva Grill, which serves excellent paella. ROOMS The South Tower is dedicated to business guests with 134 rooms (the North Tower has 150). I stayed in one of the 45sqm Relaxation suites featuring a marble bathroom with spa bath. The main room is arranged with the bed in front of an office area so you can literally put work behind you at night. Standard 37sqm King and Twin


rooms are also well equipped for business travellers, and all rooms come with access to the


buyingbusinesstravel.com


fitness centre with a retractable roof, 24-hour gym, hydrotherapy pool, saunas and steam rooms. The Saludando team of wellness professionals are available to individuals, or how about group yoga, mindfulness, massage or fitness sessions to punctuate long work meetings? For those wanting to extend


their trip into a family city break, children stay for free. BUSINESS There are 15 fully- serviced meeting rooms each with direct outside access, a plush executive lounge and a business centre. And sandwiched between the two towers is the 580-person capacity ballroom. It has a 6.5m-high ceiling, doors big enough to drive a car through, retractable roof panels to allow in natural light and its own entrance/reception area. The hotel’s events team recently organised a flamenco event, and a boxing ring for a product launch. The 400-capacity


multifunctional area on the ground floor of the North Tower also has its own entrance, while the 138sqm Presidential suite would suit smaller gatherings. VERDICT Easy accessibility, stress-busting bleisure amenities and 1,700sqm-worth of meeting spaces make Hilton Madrid Airport a smart choice.


2019 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 141


HOTEL


HOTEL


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