In 1908 the Hotel Norte y Londres opened to the crème de la crème of Spanish society in Burgos, a small medieval town about 2 hours north of Madrid. It was one of the first of the city’s buildings to have a telephone, an elevator, and private bathrooms in the rooms.
“At that time only the rich traveled,” says the hotel’s proprietor Luis Mata, whose family has been running the hotel for 5 generations. “the rooms on the 4th and 5th floors, up until eighty years ago, had no bathrooms and were tiny because generally, the type of people that traveled in 1920 were the Count of this or the Duke of that and they traveled with their own servants” and those servants stayed all the way upstairs.
Now, the hotel’s former service rooms have been renovated to include private bathrooms, but the vestiges of that time — smaller spaces, simple windows instead of the balconies of the first three floors — can still be seen.
The rooms on the first three floors, a higher category and slightly more expensive have a smidge more room (there are 50 rooms total), great two-person balconies that open onto the street, antique wooden wardrobes and headboards as well as the newer, larger bathrooms complete with bathtub and bidet.
While these rooms have romantic views I have to admit liking the ceramic-roofed buildings that could be since from the hotel’s top floors’ windows as well. Beds and linens are pretty basic, and there are small televisions along with basic toiletries and hair dryers in each room. Ask for extra pillows, there are never enough in my opinion.
Room 314 was once the hotel’s impromptu chapel, set up so that the priest from San Lorenzo cathedral next door could come and take confession from rich travelers. The renovations to the bathrooms uncovered religious frescos of Christ and paraphilia, some of which are on display in the lobby — an elaborate wooden niche with Saint James inside of it was once the chapel’s altar.
The lobby’s collection of overstuffed chairs and sofas add to the historical ambiance but remain comfortable enough to sit for a while with a good book. Windows on the first floor were made by famous glass artist, Jules Pierre Maumejean, and are signed with his name. There are also several of his ceramic tiles in the hotel’s front entrance — the site of many an art school pilgrimage for students studying his work.
The hotel’s dining room is cozy and simple, with views to the plaza below and a simple breakfast that can be had for 8 euros a person. Once a buffet, recent Covid changes have meant that orders are a set meal that you pay for in advance. The internet all the way up on the 4th floor wasn’t great, but down in the lobby it worked fine, so be sure to get a lower room if you need good wi-fi.
One drawback is that there is no hotel parking, but many of these old Spanish hotels lack that amenity. There is paid street parking around the neighborhood or a public parking garage a few blocks away that you can park in for 13 euros (for 24 hours) through an agreement between the garage and the hotel.
Since its inauguration the hotel has evolved to meet the times, starting in the 1980s to offer some much-needed pampering for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago Compostela and introducing generations to the charm of the historic center of Burgos. Its location couldn’t be better right in the heart of cafes and shops, only steps from the Plaza del Reyes which fills to the brim with diners in the evening.
Also, close by is the town’s stunning French Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria (with the tomb of El Cid inside), entered through two massive medieval towers and in a section of the city that is devastatingly charming, with winding alleyways, small cafes, and gorgeous architecture. The nearby municipal market, although slightly ravaged by the inattention of local government is a great place to stop for local cheeses, meats, pickled peppers, olives, and bread. There are even a few fruit and vegetable stands and the fishmongers sell every day but Monday.
The room prices were less extravagant than many places I stayed in this part of the country with much poorer locations and less charm. Starting around 45 euros and going up to only 150 a night, Hotel Norte y Londres might be considered a steal in northern Spain. For old-world ambiance and central location at a great price, Hotel Norte y Londres can’t be beat.