London-based architecture and interiors practice Red Deer has redesigned iconic Bilbao property, Hotel Ercilla, restoring the building to its former glory as a landmark venue in the historic Spanish city.

Dating back to the 1970s and thought to be the first purpose built hotel in Bilbao, Hotel Ercilla was the go-to destination for celebrities visiting the Basque region. Honouring the grandeur of the 1970s and 80s while observing the property’s own unique heritage, Red Deer has interlinked history and design through its concept ‘Vintage Glamour the Bilbao Way’. The studio created a colour and texture palette straight out of the era, incorporating ochre, crème, chrome, pink, burgundy and dark blue, together with splashes of tweeds, houndstooth and dogtooth. These were added to construct a geometric effect and reference the city’s strong trade history with Britain, alongside a softer feel created through velvets and faux furs in 70s’ style.

In keeping with an ongoing commitment to sustainability, the firm 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, while frosted geometric globe lights throughout the building bring an atmospheric, and almost cinematic, quality to the contemporary scheme.

Hotel Ercilla in Bilbao, Spain

With little work taking place on the design since the 1990s, resulting in an incoherently mixture of styles and influences, Red Deer decided to consolidate the previous 325 bedrooms into 285 and place more focus on the social hubs of the hotel, which remains a family-owned establishment. As such, there’s now a reception, powder room and 108 cover bar/lounge on the lower ground floor, along with a number of conference and function spaces, while the first floor features a breakfast room and gym on the first floor, and five different types – Stylish, Stylish City View, Vintage, Vintage Premium and Suites – of guestrooms above that.

The highlight of the new design, and of Hotel Ercilla overall, is a wraparound roof terrace on the 13th floor. One of the only roof terraces in the city, it provides panoramic views of Bilbao and is set to become a popular destination for concerts, screenings and DJs thanks to its lounge and bar, which operate both in and outside.

Hotel Ercilla in Bilbao, Spain

Working alongside Red Deer to devise the concept was design agency, 0120 (, who created the visual branding and in true collaborative form share a workspace with Red Deer in their London offices.

While Hotel Ercilla has an unrivalled bond with 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 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. As such, Hotel Ercilla acts as a a homecoming for both parties.