Hotel Viura

Near Laguardia, The Basque Country, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Super-cool design hotel bang in the middle of a lovely village, and surrounded by Rioja wine fields
Viura is gorgeous, simple as that. Its cool design, helpful staff and unbeatable position in the pretty village of Villabuena de Alava all elate. It may look like a stack of half-toppled boxes from the outside, but its light-filled interiors reveal nothing but order and charm. Cool, contemporary elegance flows throughout. Come for a small slice of heaven and some good red wine.

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, and an excellent restaurant for modern rustic food.

Highs

  • 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)

Lows

  • 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

Go whenever you can. This is a gorgeous hotel, reason enough to visit the area. However, the Rioja wine fields are never prettier than in October, when the vines turn red and the harvest begins.

Our top tips

If you're here over a weekend then head to the Arabarte winery on the edge of Villabuena de Alava for a meal. They serve simple Riojan food washed down with their own wines - some of the best we sampled in the region. You can also buy their wine by the bottle to take home with you.

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 33
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Suite

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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. The feast of Saint Mathew is celebrated in the town in the last full week of September

  • Believe it or not, you can ski in winter 40km southwest at Valdecaray. In summer, spin 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:

  • Cycling
  • Festivals
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

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 equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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