By Patricia Harris & David Lyon, Globe Correspondents
When we're visiting a major city, we generally try to avoid booking into hotels near bus stations for fear that the neighborhood will be ... less than inviting. But we learned to loosen up a little on our last visit to the Spanish Basque country resort city of San Sebastian. We booked a room at the Hotel Astoria 7 literally across the street from the bus station -- and one of the best deals in a city that remains fairly pricey even off season.
What a surprise! The hotel sits in the midst of a solid middle class neighborhood full of shops and small restaurants and it even has its own quirky charm. The name Astoria 7 refers to San Sebastian's first multiplex cinema that operated on the site before it was transformed into lodgings a few years ago. The hotel takes the movie theme to somewhat of an extreme. Each room is named for a film personality, and there are also a few ancient movie seats in the lobby, a small cinema in the basement, a fantastic cinema library of picture books, and a lending library of DVDs. (One rainy night we grabbed some food from the gourmet shop in the next block and stayed in and screened some classics.) Moreover, it's a straight shot on the bus to the Kursaal complex, where most films of the San Sebastian Film Festival (Sept. 16-24, 2011) are screened. Book now for next fall, as rooms fill quickly.
Hotel Astoria 7, Calle Sagrada Familia 1, 866-376-7831 (from US), www.avantgardehotels.com. Rooms start at 103 euros, currently about $145.
Photo of Hitchcock mannequin in lobby of Hotel Astoria 7 by Patricia Harris for Boston Globe