Where to stay in Rioja

The outdoor pool at boutique hotel Palacio Condes de Cirac in Villalba
The outdoor pool at boutique hotel Palacio Condes de Cirac in Villalba

It’s an exciting time to visit Rioja and sample its wines. Beyond the bodegas and the increasing diversity and quality of the wines themselves, the region seems to be seriously waking up to wine tourism.

There has been a flurry of openings in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, with more to come soon in Haro, Laguardia and Logron?o. Rioja Oriental, however, currently lags behind in terms of appealing accommodation, despite a growing number of producers delivering some of the region’s finest Garnachas.

The house that pioneered modern wine tourism in Rioja was Marque?s de Riscal, when it opened its imposing, titanium-clad hotel in 2006. This was a huge boost not only for the venerable brand, but also for Rioja as a whole, which welcomed more than half a million visitors in 2019.

In addition to the splendour of Marque?s de Riscal’s 61 rooms and its one-star Michelin restaurant, visitors looking for a gastronomic experience can stay at Echaurren in the picturesque village of Ezcaray. This family-run hotel has a tapas bar and three restaurants (its chef, Francis Paniego, also oversees the menus at Riscal). Echaurren is also a good base for exploring the hiking routes near the Valdezcaray ski resort.

Looking beyond these two options, I’ve chosen 10 of the best places to stay in Rioja right now.

Hotel Aurea Palacio de Correos

Plaza San Agusti?n 1, Logron?o

Credit: Ramón Vaamonde

Built in neo-Baroque style in the centre of Logron?o, a stone’s throw from the bustling Calle Laurel, this former convent and central post office languished in disrepair until December 2021, when it became the city’s first five-star hotel.

The 41 contemporary Art Deco-style rooms – including six suites, some of them distributed across two floors – have air conditioning, Bluetooth, USB sockets and quality amenities. All are fitted with comfortable king-size beds, except for a few with twin beds (including one that is adapted for guests with limited mobility).

The outdoor roof terrace overlooking the city is open from 5pm to 11pm and is very popular among locals, but guests keen to sip a zurracapote (a Spanish punch, similar to sangria), or any of the cocktails prepared at the bar, have preferential entry. Other interesting features of the hotel are the massage room and spa with aromatherapy showers, steam and dry saunas, plus a pool with sun loungers and whirlpool bath – popular with weary pilgrims walking the Camino.

Respectful of its past, the decoration of the hotel’s corridors and common areas pays tribute to the men and women who worked at this building – note the collection of lovely old postcards that postal workers used to send during Christmas and New Year as well as the colourful collage in the Matasellos (literally ‘postmark’ in Spanish) restaurant. Serving contemporary local recipes prepared from seasonal ingredients and accompanied by a selection of mostly local wines, Matasellos also offers a delicious weekday menu? del di?a at lunchtime for €25.

Being in the centre of town, Aurea Palacio de Correos is perfect for tourists who want to see the sights, visit the local wineries or explore Logron?o’s vast food and wine offering at their own pace. The hotel can also organise a private visit with transfer to the Arizcuren vineyards in Sierra de Yerga (Rioja Oriental), followed by a wine tasting. B&B from €160 per night.

Finca de los Arandinos

Carretera LR-137, Km 4.6, Entrena

Credit: Carlos Glera Castillo

Set in the middle of the countryside in the village of Entrena, this estate belongs to a local wine- growing family and includes a working winery with vineyards and an adjacent hotel with 14 bedrooms and a restaurant (booking required).

The winery (open to visitors) and the airy rooms above it were designed by architect and winemaker Javier Arizcuren using cement, stone and wood. Across the lobby, there are 10 smaller rooms with daring decor…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/where-to-stay-in-rioja-497443/

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