Since it opened in 1912, Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel has been intimately linked to the history and cultural life of San Sebastian. In the late 19th century the seaside town on the southern point of the Bay of Biscay became a favorite destination for royalty and aristocrats who came to enjoy the sunshine and newly recognized therapeutic properties of sea bathing. A traditional afternoon stroll along the boardwalk offered an opportunity to see and be seen while the many cafés and open-air terraces were filled with high society. San Sebastian had passed from being a sleepy fishing village into a thriving cosmopolitan town requiring luxurious, modern facilities to meet the demands of its discerning guests. The majestic design of the hotel by architect Charles Mewes, the man responsible for the Ritz in Madrid and Paris, combined with the property’s enviable river setting and sea views, resulted in it immediately becoming the favored accommodation for international high society.