A flute of crisp champagne? A robust ruby red? Or perhaps a fresh citrusy white? Whatever your preferred tipple, we’ve selected our top 10 wine-based retreats in which to brush up on your fine wines and sample the local grape. Whether it’s a romantic week away, a blissful break or an itinerant wine-tasting tour, there are acres of vines and countless groaning cellars to choose from. Claire Dowling picks the best.
Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
Mouth-wateringly close to the world-famous wine estates of Latour and Lafite Rothschild, Le Boutique Hotel masterfully combines chic contemporary design with 18th-century townhouse charm. The stunning rooms with chrome lighting and luxurious bathtubs ooze design hotel style, while fresh orange juice and crisp croissants entice you into the hotel’s leafy courtyard, hidden away in the heart of Bordeaux’s historic centre. As you’d expect in a luxurious Bordeaux hotel, wine flows through every room (in one way or another): bedrooms are named after wine chateaux, there’s a complimentary bottle for i-escape guests, and even the modern art adopts a wine theme. Luckily they’re equipped with the expertise to back it up and after a busy day you can relax with a blind wine tasting in the hotel bar, led by their enthusiastic sommelier.
Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza, Alto Agrelo, Argentina
The amicable owners of Cavas Wine Lodge can organise day-long wine-tasting tours that encompass 3 wineries, including lunch at one and serious tastings at all – perfect for getting you properly acquainted with the region. The lodge’s own vineyard produces a world-renowned Malbec, which you’ll be offered a glass of on arrival, and we also recommend a day of independent vineyard exploration, by bicycle. The breath-taking snow-capped Andes Mountains can be viewed from the super-stylish rooms, which offer indulgent kingsize beds, private plunge pools and wood-burning fireplaces. You can also indulge in exquisite contemporary Latin-American food, an innovative red wine bath at the Moorish spa, or a cooling swim in the picture-perfect pool.
Cape Lodge, Margaret River, Western Australia
A luxurious country hotel in a lush haven of pristine gardens, lakes and forest, Cape Lodge is situated in one of Australia’s premium wine-producing regions making a wine-tour top of the to-do list. A quarter of Australia’s top wines come from here, and the lodge’s staff will be able to supply some excellent vineyard and restaurant options (you’re spoilt for choice). Cape Lodge’s secluded lake-view rooms and suites, plus 2 residences for 4-6, provide a plush but understated place to unwind. When you’re not off whale-watching or honing your skills at the cookery school there are nearby pristine white beaches lapped by the aquamarine Indian Ocean. If that’s not enough, top-notch food at the lakeside restaurant and a plentiful supply of wine in the hotel’s remarkable wine cellar (over 14,000 bottles and 200 labels) will leave you utterly sated.
La Casona at Matetic Vineyards, Rosario Valley, Chile
Brush up on your organic wine production knowledge with a complimentary tour from one of Chile’s top producers before sampling some of their award-winning Syrah or signature Sauvignon Blanc in the California-style restaurant. Such tempting extras make this intimate family-owned 7-room colonial estancia an essential stay for wine buffs. Guests can learn about the principles of organic wine-making, bottling and storage before enjoying walks around the landscaped gardens, or relaxing in your calm room with its elegant furnishings and polished wood floors. The setting, in the rolling hills of Rosario Valley, allows for spectacular horse-back riding and fun trips to Valparaíso’s colourful houses and Viña del Mar’s trendy beach.
Hotel TerraVina, The New Forest, Hampshire, England
Less than 2 hours from London, but a world apart, Hotel Terravina’s 11 fresh and cosy rooms are tucked away in the New Forest National Park, where ponies wander at will through the verdant countryside. With fantastic food and an amazing array of wines in the hotel wine cellar, owner Gerard – who won Best Sommelier in the World in 2010 – and Head Sommelier Laura provide flawless wine and food pairing advice. Gerard has even invested in a state-of-the-art enomatic machine to keep opened bottles perfectly fresh, enabling diners to try the lengthy wine list by the glass.
Tenuta San Pietro, Near Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
An intimate and chic 10-room, 2-suite hideaway with a fabulous restaurant, a 350-bottle wine cellar and an on-site tasting room; Tenuta San Pietro is surrounded by olive trees and vineyards in a relatively undiscovered part of Tuscany. Inside, the Norwegian owners have chosen Scandinavian minimalism for the individually decorated rooms, creating a crisp contrast to the beautiful ancient towns and Baroque palaces of the local area. Spend the day following the wine road with a guided tour (arranged by the hotel) of the area’s most important producers, such as Terre del Sillabo and Tenuta di Valgiano, before relaxing by the infinity pool overlooking the stunning Garfagnana Mountains.
Hotel Viura, Near Laguardia, Basque Country, Spain
A striking juxtaposition has been created between this architectural wonder and the charming traditional village in which it sits. And the strong look continues inside, where nature-inspired imagery, polished concrete, and walls of glass frame stunning bedrooms and an excellent restaurant. A visit to hilltop Laguardia provides the best views of the surrounding wine fields, or you can simply borrow the hotel bikes to cycle amongst them – be sure to stop by Briones’ excellent wine museum en route. Return for dinner under the wine-barrel studded ceiling of the hotel dining room, where an expert sommelier will offer and explain pairing for your chosen dishes.
Aquapura, Douro Valley, Portugal
Aquapura’s 71 rooms and villas take their decorative cues from the Douro Valley’s serene vineyards and winding river – earthy shades of taupe, yellow and grey reflect the open scenery viewed through expansive glass windows. From the in-house bodega’s own wine tastings (you’ll get one for free for booking through i-escape) to the renowned port and wine estates nearby, oenophiles (that’s wine-lovers, don’t you know) will be spoilt for choice here. And if all that love goes to your head you can always enjoy the plethora of treatments at Aquapura’s state-of-the-art spa and laze on the made-for-two daybeds by the pool.
Inn at Occidental, Occidental, California
Inn at Occidental offers a sense of seclusion, yet it’s just 15 minutes from the rugged pacific west coast and the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay filled wineries of the famed Russian River wine region. Playful rooms, plus a 2-bedroom self-catering cottage with handmade quilts and quirky touches, create a cheerful ambiance. If you can tear yourself away from your spa bath or warming fireplace, a bountiful home-made breakfast will prepare you for canoeing, hiking, riding or ballooning over the hotel’s stunning surroundings. On your return, lounge in the living room with some complimentary cheese and local wine – you’ll even get a bottle on arrival, as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Hawksmoor House, Near Stellenbosch, South Africa
Conveniently nestled between picturesque Stellenbosch and the hubbub of Cape Town is this stylish old Cape Dutch country manor and wine farm. There are numerous must-visit estates nearby such as Zevenwacht and Vergelegen, which we consider must-sees for their incredible scenery as well their exceptional wine. To initiate you into these world-class wine fields, i-escape guests will receive a bottle of Hawksmoor’s own bottle to enjoy during their stay. You’ll find a beautiful fusion of fine antiques and modern touches in the large soothing rooms and at breakfast you’ll join other guests for a friendly morning on the veranda, gazing across the estate and as far as Table Mountain. The hotel’s pool is blessed with the perfect location for stunning sunsets – have a glass of estate wine at the ready and you’ll be all set for a blissful evening.