Maria Cristina Hotel, Since it opened in 1912 the 136-room Hotel Maria Cristina has been intimately linked to the history and cultural life of San Sebastian.
In the late 19th century the seaside town on the southern point of the Bay of Biscay became a favorite destination for royalty and aristocrats who came to enjoy the sunshine and newly recognized therapeutic properties of sea bathing. A traditional afternoon stroll along the boardwalk offered an opportunity to see and be seen while the many cafés and open-air terraces were filled with high society.
San Sebastian had passed from being a sleepy fishing village into a thriving cosmopolitan town requiring luxurious, modern facilities to meet the demands of its discerning guests.
Serendipitously this urban blossoming occurred at the height of the Belle Époque era, and today the majority of buildings flanking the famed La Concha beach, including the city hall, Victoria Eugenia Theater and the Hotel Maria Cristina, are constructed in this style. The majestic design of the hotel by architect Charles Mewes, the man responsible for the Ritz in Madrid and Paris, combined with the property’s enviable river setting and sea views, resulted in it immediately becoming the favored accommodation for international high society.
In July 1912 the hotel’s namesake, Spain’s regent Maria Cristina, was the first person to cross the threshold.
Over 40 years later, with the inauguration of the San Sebastian Film Festival in 1953, the hotel was still attracting big names – screen stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Woody Allen, Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Brad Pitt and Susan Sarandon.