The Itsas Mendia hotel: the story of a family, a Basque saga


Did you book our hotel, in a click, online, without really knowing us? Did you like the interior design, our client reviews? Or, maybe you have known us for some time already? In any case, we are very happy to have you with us!

Welcome to Itsas Mendia…

This hotel is above all a family story, a Basque saga. So, let us tell you all about it here, like a life story shared in complete confidence with close friends as they stay up late talking …

The story begins towards the end of the 19th century.

It may be difficult, while you enjoy the comfort of your guest rooms, to imagine that this hotel’s story began at the end of the 19th century. Exiled from Hegoalde, the Spanish part of the Basque Country, Domingo Etchayde arrived in Bidart to begin a new life… his life!

He arrived with his herd of cows and rapidly became the village doctor’s handyman. A few years later, Domingo bought the doctor’s house along with an adjoining plot of land. This is where you find yourselves today. The Etchayde family saga may begin…

The Etchayde are builders.

Married to Léonie, and two children later, Domingo created his own building company.

A life of labour that enabled the family’s heritage to expand… as is still illustrated by some of the beautiful buildings in the village!

His son, Jean, took over the family business and turned it into a thriving company. Between two construction projects, he expanded and embellished the family home. It was in the early 70’s that this house (the charming hotel where you find yourselves today) took on its definitive architectural form.

The family home became a boarding house.

In the 1920s, the family home was transformed into a boarding house. Marie, Jean’s sister, and Jeanne, his wife, were in charge of operations! A Belgian hotelier came to the Basque Country and spent a few months teaching the ins and outs of the business and, rapidly, the two women became the heart and soul of the house!

Jeanne passed away on 1987. Marie remained the cornerstone of the hotel’s character-filled existence up until it closed in 1996. Many of our guests remember, still today, the incredible mark this extraordinary woman left on her establishment.

After dedicating her life’s work to her hotel, Marie passed away in 2004, at the grand old age of 98!

And, because this establishment is assuredly a family adventure, Jean-Marie, son of Jean and Jeanne, studied accounting and went on to manage, up until the end, the finances of his mother and aunt’s hotel business. With his wife, Evelyn, they had a daughter, Maider who, throughout her childhood, explored every square inch of the hotel, never far from her aunt, Marie!

Passing on the legacy or missed opportunity?

Was a passion for the hotel business passed down during those times? That inalterable desire to pursue a career in hospitality, the generous reception and entertainment of guests! One thing was sure, towards the end of the 1990s, Maider was studying culinary arts at the Biarritz school of hospitality while the hotel fell into disuse and closed its doors… On the brink of a new century, had the opportunity slipped away forever?

In any case, for a long time, local onlookers and tourists were surprised to see the state of the now-closed hotel! Why would such a sumptuous home be abandoned like that? Who does it belong to now? Many rumours were going around at the time: a Saudi Arabian prince, a French member of parliament or a hotel chain?

A breath of new life.

In 2008, the answer was at last given! The shutters reopened, workers were bustling around, a new hotel Itsas Mendia arose from the ashes… and remained a family house as it was Maider herself, Marie’s protégé, with a passion for hospitality, who was spearheading the refurbishment, armed with courage and determination as the hotel was indeed in a pitiful state!

In August 2010, after two years of renovation works, an uncountable number of headaches, seemingly unsolvable problems that turned out to be solvable and numerous challenges that were impossible to foresee, Maider was finally able to welcome her first guests, so proud to be continuing the family adventure at last and breathing a new lease of life into this gem that, to Bidart and its inhabitants, had been abandoned for such a long time… because, yes, the Hotel Itsas Mendia is part of the village’s and villagers’ memory, a part of our story, of our values and our soul… the soul of the Basque Country!

On behalf of all of us!

Here we are talking about our hotel Itsas Mendia and we haven’t translated its name for you yet … oh dear! Well, it’s quite simple actually… Where are we? Yes, you’ve got it! We are between “sea and mountain” and that is how it translates, literally, from Basque. Our hotel, in the heart of the village of Bidart, is so close to the ocean as well as being at the foot of our beloved Basque mountains!

The story of our family is intrinsically connected to the story of the Basque Country. We have purposefully created our hotel to be as it is: simple, proud and elegant, like the Basque Country, like our family!

Nevertheless, we are in 2019 and so we have created a chic and relaxed atmosphere, a blend of modernity and tradition… some one-hundred-year-old furniture and armchairs have been reupholstered by Maider and her mother! On the ground floor, our collection of postcards are greetings from the past waiting to be discovered; we will be happy and proud to give you some of the background details about them!

A family hotel with 15 guest rooms.

As you can see, our deepest wish for this hotel, now with its 4th generation of builders and hospitality lovers, is for it to become yours, so you feel at home!

Every day, we do our very best to make this experience a long-lasting memory for our guests. Of course, while we put all of our efforts into delighting our guests, we remain perfectible, so your comments and feedback will always be welcome!

Hotel Itsas Mendia