“Super-cool design hotel bang in the middle of a lovely village, and surrounded by Rioja wine fields”
Beautiful bedrooms come in 3 sizes: Standard, Deluxe and Suite. The small rooms aren’t too small; the big rooms are enormous. All have the same cool style with vast rugs on polished concrete floors and large sepia photographs that fill the wall above your bed. You get white designer furniture, flatscreen TVs, free still and sparkling water in the minibar, and a small selection of wines chosen by the restaurant's sommelier.
Seriously comfy beds come as standard, with pressed white linen and funky light cubes that act as bedside tables. Your ceiling and the odd wall will be nothing other than smooth slabs of concrete; sometimes, a rusty pigment is added, giving a deep burst of textured colour. Deluxe Rooms come with cute village views, but so do some of the Standard Rooms, a couple of which even have small terraces that face the rock. Suites come with big white sofas, terraces which look the right way, and coffee machines. They also have Blue-Ray DVD players (there’s a good DVD library in reception). And while the other rooms don’t, if you ask at reception, they’ll bring one up and connect it free of charge.
As for the bathrooms, they’re all divine. Smaller rooms have oversized power showers; bigger rooms have tubs, too. Suites have walls of coloured glass between the room and the bath. All come with white robes, thick towels and big pots of spoiling oils.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant, but they’ll bring it up to your room if you want. You eat in airy splendour under a ceiling studded with wine barrels. On offer is the usual excess: freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade cakes, fresh fruit, yoghurts, plates of cheese and Iberian hams, baskets of patisserie, tomatoes with olive oil. There are hot dishes, too: Spanish omelettes, French toast, scrambled eggs and bacon, even some very tasty sausages.
Lunch in the bar offers the same menu as room service: hams and cheese, penne Bolognese, fresh fish, burgers, steak-frites. You can eat inside or on the sail-shaded terrace. Drinks are served all day, including some rather good local wines.
Dinner offers excellent, earthy Riojan fare. You can eat à la carte, perhaps cod carpaccio with fennel and cockles, stewed veal medallions with a red wine sauce, then tarte tatin with violet marmalade. The table d’hôte menu offers 3 choices all the way, perhaps crab ravioli, a T-bone steak served with spicy red peppers, then caramelised bread and butter pudding with mandarin sorbet.
If you want to eat out, head up to pretty Laguardia, a small hilltop town where you’ll find a number of good places serving tasty local food. In the smarter restaurants you can combine a wine tasting with dinner. It’s a 5-minute drive, but you can always grab bikes from the hotel.
Further afield, you’ll find the Rioja’s first Michelin star 30km southwest at El Portal in Echaurren. It’s a contemporary space in a lovely old village - well worth the journey. And a 20-minute drive from the hotel is Logroño, the capital of La Rioja, which has lots of good food - pinchos (similar to tapas) in c. San Juan and c. Laurel, and some good restaurants scattered about the Old Town. Some are smart, others buzzing, others simpler and serving grilled fish and meat. Cachetero (c. Laurel) is considered the best in town.