Hotel Ercilla

Red Deer has completely redesigned iconic central Bilbao institution, Hotel Ercilla – restoring the building to its original glory as a landmark venue in the vibrant Spanish city.

  • area / size 161,458 sqft
  • rooms 285
  • Year 2020
  • Location Bilbao, Spain,
  • Type Hotel,
  • Dating back to the 1970s and the first purpose built hotel in Bilbao, Hotel Ercilla was the go-to destination for every celebrity visiting the Basque region. Honouring the grandeur of the 1970s and 80s in all its brashness and observing the hotel’s own unique heritage, Red Deer has interlinked history and design through the concept ‘Vintage Glamour the Bilbao Way’. For this ambitious brief, Red Deer created a colour and texture palette straight out of the era. Incorporating ochre, crème, chrome, pink, burgundy and dark blue, vibrant splashes of tweeds, houndstooth, and dogtooth were added to construct a bold geometric effect and reference Bilbao’s own strong trade history with Britain as an industrial port city, alongside a softer feel created through velvets and sumptuous faux furs in true 1970s style.

    In keeping with an ongoing core commitment to sustainability Red Deer concertedly maintained and restored a significant proportion of the original furniture and finishes within the 13-storey building, further celebrating the history of the site. Locally sourced oak panelling was also added along with travertine (a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs) and an abundance of chrome. Frosted geometric globe lights throughout the building add an atmospheric almost cinematic quality that completes Red Deer’s contemporary reinterpretation of Hotel Ercilla’s past, returning the hotel solidly to its former glory.

    The concept ‘Vintage Glamour the Bilbao Way’, was created alongside the brand and design agency, 0120 ( who created the visual branding for the revamped Hotel Ercilla and who in true collaborative form share a workspace with Red Deer in their London offices.

    The highlight of Red Deer’s design and of Hotel Ercilla overall, is the stunning wraparound roof terrace on the thirteenth floor. One of the only roof terraces in the city, it provides unrivalled panoramic views of Bilbao. With a lounge and bar operating both in and outside, the terrace looks set to become an unmissable destination for concerts, screenings and DJs. Located in the heart of Bilbao and within walking distance of the Guggenheim and Casco Viejo, the city’s medieval quarter, Hotel Ercilla will seamlessly attract both international guests and the local community, acting as a key social hub in the city.

    The ambitious brief sees Red Deer totally transform the previously tired, staid building that Hotel Ercilla had become. From the 1990s onwards, little work had taken place on the design resulting in an incoherently brought together mixture of styles and influences. Recognising the different values and needs of the contemporary traveller, Red Deer consolidated the previous 325 bedrooms into 285 and placed the focus more on the social hubs of Hotel Ercilla, which remains a family owned establishment. In addition to the splendour of the rooftop lounge and bar with terrace is a 108 cover bar/lounge along with a Reception, elaborate Powder Room and a number of conference and function rooms located on the lower ground floor; a Breakfast Room and Gym on the first floor; and 285 bedrooms divided into five types – Stylish, Stylish City View, Vintage, Vintage Premium and Suites.

    While Hotel Ercilla undoubtedly has an unrivalled strong bond to Bilbao and its residents, the building also holds a deeply personal connection for Red Deer itself. The redesign was overseen by co-founder, Lionel Real de Azúa, who is himself of Basque origin. Each time he travelled from the airport to the hotel, he would pass by his family village which resonated with him strongly. So Hotel Ercilla acts as not just a homecoming for Bilbao but for Red Deer, the international architecture and interiors practice whose passion for local design and history brings it firmly back to life.

    Design: Red Deer
    Photography: Iban Montero