Step inside and you find the whole building is cut into the side of a rock. You immediately acknowledge that you’re standing in a profoundly beautiful space. The cause for this has a surprising source - the polished concrete blocks from which the hotel is built. They appear like textured geological strata, adding a sense of remarkable calm. There are walls of glass, too, to bring the village inside. As for the rooms and suites, well, they pack a punch, and if you occasionally like to splash out on more expensive rooms, this is a great place to do it; Viura's are huge and most open onto private terraces. Elsewhere there's a sail-shaded terrace outside the bar, a beautiful sitting room with the daily papers, the Calado Termal spa (complete with 16th-century cave) and an excellent restaurant for modern rustic food.
- The Rioja wine region is a beautiful place for a relaxing holiday: borrow bikes from the hotel and explore vineyards and pretty hilltop towns, and take day trips to Bilbao and Pamplona
- The design of this lovely hotel is hard to beat, and the contrast between the old village and the sparkling modern building works brilliantly
- Bedrooms are simply stunning; some have terraces, others fantastic village views, and all have gorgeous bathrooms with robes and potions
- We loved the communal roof terrace, which looks out over Villabuena de Alava's 16th-century church
- The cute village swimming pool lies directly below the hotel - it’s a great place to relax and meet the locals (open July and August)
- You’re out in the country, so you’ll need a car to get here
- Word has spread - if you want a room at the weekends, you’ll need to book early
- If you don’t eat here, you’ll have to drive as there isn’t a restaurant in the village
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 33 rooms
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car recommended
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Bicycles Available
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, DVD player (with movies in various languages), large TV (with international channels), free still and sparkling water in the minibar, and a small selection of wines from the region 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 (and Deluxe Terraces with a private balcony), but so do some of the Standard Rooms, a couple of which even have small terraces that face the rock. The Suites come with big white sofas, terraces which look the right way, Blu-Ray players and Nespresso coffee machines. Guests staying in these rooms can make use of a pre-arranged private slot in the Calado Termal spa.
As for the bathrooms, they’re all divine. Standard and Deluxe rooms have oversized power showers; Suites have tubs, too. All come with white robes, thick towels and big pots of spoiling oils.
- Complimentary bottled water
- In room treatments available
- Safe box
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.
You can eat lunch inside or on the sail-shaded terrace. Drinks are served all day, including some rather good local wines.
Dinner offers excellent, earthy Riojan and Basque fare. You can eat à la carte, perhaps black cod with false risotto, charcoal-grilled kokotxas (fish throat), squid sauce and tonka bean; or Iberian pork cheeks stewed in Rioja wine, carrot cream and pickles.
Perhaps you'll try the tasting menu, which can include fresh artichokes with ham, Parmentier and lamb sweetbreads; Balfegó tuna loin with Romesco paprika sauce, charcoal-grilled leak, picada pudding and garlic purée; and lemon, yoghurt foam, honey and chamomile. Ask the team when you arrive what the latest seasonal dishes are.
You may prefer an informal lunch or dinner, so head to the hotel's Bistro, which has opened since we last visited, where you can sip more wine (or cocktails) and while the hours away with a special 'wine talk' from a sommelier. You can also purchase wines here with the same price tags as though you were buying directly from the winery.
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.
- Room service
- Hang about at this cool hotel. Catch the sun on the roof terrace, lunch under the shade of the bar's sails, then spin down to the outdoor village pool (open July and August) for a swim
- A 16th-century thermal cave has been added to the hotel's Calado Termal spa offering since we visited. You can indulge in 100% natural treatments based on the benefits of honey and grapes
- The hotel has good bikes to borrow, so head out to discover the vineyards. There are lots to visit, including Arabarte on the edge of the village. The wine museum in Briones is excellent, too
- Walk through streets full of Renaissance houses and palaces on the Villabeuna wine tour
- Visit Laguardia, a pretty hilltop town 5km east. It’s a small cultural hub and has huge views of mountains and wine fields; a path strewn with benches curls round its northern crown. You’ll find lots of good bars and restaurants, as you will in San Vincente de La Sonsierra, another hilltop town
- During summer there’s always a fiesta going on somewhere close by. They’re great fun, with bands marching through the street, dancing in the plaza, and lots of Rioja flowing in the bars. Make sure you join in
- Logroño, the capital of La Rioja, is a very pretty old town full of bars, restaurants and pretty plazas. The Camino de Santiago cuts through; follow it east along the River Ebro or west back to Laguardia. The town's 2 oldest churches - 12th-century San Bartoleme and 13th-century Santa María - are both worth visiting
- Believe it or not, you can ski in winter 40km southwest at Valdecaray. In summer, head east to the impressive monastery in the hills at Valvanrea, then onto the caves at Ortigosa
- There’s golf at Lagrán (9 holes, 20km away) and Urturi (18 holes, 35km away), but you’ll need to bring your own clubs
- Good road links to Pamplona and Bilbao mean day trips are easy. San Sebastián is a little further, but worth the effort
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Shopping / markets
- Wine tasting
Children are welcome, and cots and extra beds are available, but there’s not much here to entertain them.
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Hotel Viura is set in the village of Villabuena de Alava, in the Basque area of the Rioja wine country in northern Spain (known as Rioja Alavesa). The closest international airport is in Bilbao, about 80 minutes away by car.
The closest airport is Logroño (41km), which has domestic flights and is about 20 minutes away by car. For international flights, the closest airports are Bilbao (116km), Biarritz (202km away in France, 2.5 hours by car) and Barcelona (502km away, 5 hours by car). Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport
You can take a taxi from Logroño or Bilbao, but we'd recommend hiring a car (see below). The hotel can arrange transfers on request - see Rates.
See our car rental recommendations. If you hire a car in France, make sure you're allowed to drive in Spain. Free off-street parking is available at the hotel.
Brittany Ferries sails from Plymouth and Portsmouth to Santander and from Portsmouth to Bilbao. The journey takes 24 hours, and early booking is recommended.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on [getthere:thebasquecountry:getting to the Basque Country]
- Logroño-Agoncillo 41.0 km LELO
- Bilbao Sondica 116.0 km BIO
- Beach 110.0 km
- Shops 12.0 km
- Restaurant 6.0 km