Stay in a Box? Hotel Aire de Bardenas

Entrance made of vegetable crates - Hotel Aire de Bardenas

Entrance made of vegetable crates – Hotel Aire de Bardenas

By Regina Winkle-Bryan

At first glance I thought this boxy hotel was made of old shipping crates, used to promote sustainable building. But no, Hotel Aire de Bardenas is all brand-new, and though the rooms resemble storage units, they were, in fact, made-to-order.

I’m not sure if I like Hotel Aire de Bardenas or not. However, it doesn’t much matter what I think of it, because the hotel has received many an award since its opening, plus tons of press coverage. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • I love Aire’s surroundings which are stark and wild. The hotel does not disturb the landscape, but rather lends itself to it, blending in with the shades, scale and harshness of the environment in this dry region of Spain.
  • Let’s face it, Aire is interesting. It’s not your average Spanish hotel with busts of Dukes on dark wood antique tables, or paintings of long-dead ancestors covering  the walls. Aire is clean-cut and modern, very modern, and this is refreshing.
  • I adore the fruit. Aire has fruit trees all over the property, which are more or less the only attempts at landscaping on site, apart from a small garden. Leading up to the front door of the hotel are lines of cherry trees, which were ripe when I was visiting. This region of Navarra is known for agriculture, the designers brought this aspect into the hotel’s design.
  • It’s well thought out. Aire’s architects paid attention to detail and missed nothing while creating this unique hotel. I was especially impressed by the color choices used in the rooms and in the halls, which are almost identical to the colors naturally found in the region.
  • Each room, or box, is outfitted with one window which is almost the size if the wall itself. The window protrudes out from the box, creating a little nook where guests can rest. These windows offer stunning views and are the only ‘decoration’ in  rooms, which are completely white and very bare-bones. You can imagine the window like a painting that changes throughout the day.
  • The rooms are quiet and so is the countryside. There’s nothing around Aire for miles. It’s very peaceful.
  • Staying at Aire is a bit surreal; it feels a bit like being in a artsy movie.
Hotel Aire de Bardenas - Pool

Hotel Aire de Bardenas – Pool

Cons:

  • The rooms are a bit small. With all the space around Aire, you’d think they would make the rooms larger. During my stay the Wi-Fi did not work, nor did the telephone, which meant no room service. Also, rooms at Aire are not for the timid. Instead of a door between the bedroom and the shower there is nothing more than a white sheet.
  • Sadly, there wasn’t any ventilation in our box apart from one small window in the bathroom. This means that you have to use the AC, which is too bad when the weather is so nice and the air in the countryside so fresh.
Rooms and Suites at Aire de Bardenas - Boxy Foxy?

Rooms and Suites at Aire de Bardenas – Boxy Foxy?

  • Aire has four stars and deserves them for design, however, the service is more like two stars. For instance, there was no one to drag our bags to our box, and we were not offered a drink on arrival; these would be two easy ways to improve service. However, it is not surprising that Aire’s staff  lacks when it comes to guest relations. The owners of Aire, a sister team, had never worked in the hotel biz before running Aire. How then, could they know that I want a cold one after driving for hours to get to their hotel in the middle of nowhere? They didn’t.
  • The restaurant also left something to be desired. Again, the decor is fabulous -brown leather and cream with chic modern lighting – but the wait staff  didn’t know what they were doing. In the morning breakfast was good (cheese, fruit, toast, jams, croissants), but took too long. The background music playing at 8:00 a.m. was Country Western, with hits like ‘My Baby Is American Made’ playing at full blast, making my toast and melon hard to swallow.
Rooms at Hotel Aire de Bardenas - White on White

Rooms at Hotel Aire de Bardenas – White on White

I don’t want to be too hard on Aire, but I do want to be fair. You need to be more than just a pretty face to get all four stars. While Aire looks good, its management still needs to iron out a few details. All in all, I would recommend this hotel for those who want to experience something completely different in a gorgeous region of Navarra. Those who dig boutique design hotels will be pleased with Aire and those with an interest in architecture may just want to pop in  for a drink to check it out.

More:

Web: http://www.airedebardenas.com/

Address: Crtra. de Ejea, NA 125. Km 1,5 Navarra Spain

info@hotelaire.com

 

*Tell us more. Do you have a hotel in Spain worth mentioning? The Spain Scoop wants to know! Send us your tips.

** When I get a freebie, I claim it. My stay at Aire was 1/2 off. As writer’s we are obliged to say when we’ve been given special treatment…such was the case at Aire. Thank you!

9 Responses

  1. Kirsten Carpentier says:

    Thanks for sharing! I think it is fair to say the place is remote and surreal, the food was tasty, and the wind never, never, never stops.

  2. Ellen Bergeron says:

    There are some nice photos in this article. From reading the review, however, it seems like the hotel was a great ego project for some architect with very little thought to the human interaction aspect. From what I can see in the pictures, it is a visually wonderful design, but staying there sounds a little too much like camping to me. Maybe a day trip to take photos.

    Has anyone suggest they hire a consultant to teach them the ropes about running a hotel? For what have they won rewards?
    And from whom?

    Just rhetorical questions. Thanks f0r the review. I’ll check out their website.

  3. admin says:

    Hi Ellen,
    That’s a good idea (teaching them the ropes) and most of the awards were for design, not service. I really do recommend checking out Aire, it’s worth a look.
    Regina

  4. avi says:

    I am afraid I am not very cosmopolitan!! I thought the story of this hotel was a joke !! I think it looks very interesting,but very very unusual!! I am not sure if this place would interest me,but who knows .I try to be open to the unusual!!

  5. Carlos says:

    Hola.
    Sé algo de Aire. Puedo hablar sobre el hotel Aire de Bardenas porque sé algunas cosas de Aire. Gracias por el artículo, por su interés por el hotel pero también me gustaría comentar que las opiniones son libres, aunque no sean todo lo ciertas. Aire de Bardenas fue construido sí, por dos hermanas con sus maridos: Jano y Carlos. Yo soy Carlos. Estas personas no han llevado nunca un hotel pero conocen hoteles de todo tipo por los cinco continentes. El diseño del hotel no hay sino verlo: es espectacular. 13 premios por todo el mundo nos avalan (ver en la web dónde y quién nos ha dado los premios). Los arquitectos no son Moneo, ni Gehry, ni Calatrava (éstos sí tienen su ego). Los arquitectos son una pareja joven a la que le dimos una hoja en blanco para que diseñaran su idea. Y su idea ha sido de premio. Exclusiva. Única en el mundo. En este hotel, el lujo está en la lógica, en lo sencillo. Es muy fácil contratar a un señor para que esté todo sudoroso con sus guantes blancos esperando a que lleguen nuestros clientes para llevar su equipaje. Eso ya está inventado. Y nunca me ha gustado que otra persona lleve mis cosas. Me recuerda a las películas de Tarzán. También está inventado que alguien me ofrezca un refresco cuando llegue. Eso lo hacen todos. Nosotros ofrecemos nada más llegar una bañera al aire libre en la que meterte totalmente desnudo, con o sin tu pareja, y refrescarte después del viaje. Ah! puedes llamar a recepción y te ofrecen lo que quieras. También en el minibar. Lo demás lo hacen todos.
    Aire de Bardenas hay que entenderlo. Y si no te sumerges en él, no has entendido nada. Y sí, el servicio para nosotros es lo más importante. Y podemos presumir de tenerlo muy, muy bueno. Otra cosa, en Navarra no es posible montar un negocio en el que la comida sea de mala calidad. No funciona. Y una última: se puede venir a tomar unas fotos, a tomar una copa, a tomar el aire, pero para saber cómo es Aire de Bardenas, hay que vivirlo. Ver la luna llena, las estrellas, el amanecer… eso es Aire de Bardenas. Y, por ahora, es bastante barato acceder a estos privilegios. Sólo llevamos 22 meses.

  6. admin says:

    Hi there,

    Yes, Aire is unusual. I think it is worth seeing and it is in a beautiful part of Spain. It’s different and stands out because of this. Depends on what you’re after in a hotel, but if I was traveling again to Navarra, I wouldn’t mind staying again at Aire.

    Thanks for your comments.

  7. admin says:

    Hi Carlos,

    Thanks for your comments. I think the last point you made is worth repeating, you’ve only been at it for 22 months. Aire is still growing. All the best of luck to you and your unique hotel – it’s a special place!

    Regina

  8. This is not the sort of place I’d go to for a vacation. The Bardenas is not all that interesting, compared to other areas in Navarra. And, I’m sorry, but paying four star prices just for hotel design is not something I would do. When I travel, I choose the place first, and the hotel service next, and design is not all that important to me. Of course, I want to stay in a clean, well-kept room, but when I stay in a hotel, it’s usually because I’m sightseeing in the surrounding areas, and I don’t tend to spend much time in the hotel. But to each his own, and this sort of thing may appeal to some people.

  9. admin says:

    Ditto.

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