La Torre del Visco

Fuentespalda, Aragon, Spain Book from Eur195

A supremely indulgent, tranquil and epicurean hideaway in an undiscovered corner of Aragón
La Matarranya? Even Spaniards might be hard pressed to pinpoint this little-known corner of Aragón or tell you much about it. Think wild Provence: hilltop villages, almond groves, forested hills amidst limestone peaks, vineyards and olive groves. Add a dash of the remoter parts of Tuscany, with a food culture to match, and you’re getting close to the essence of this place.

La Torre del Visco’s estate embraces a 220-acre slice of one of the region’s most beautiful river valleys. Surrounded by meadows and orchards, rose, herb and vegetable gardens, the 16 understated rooms and suites combine original art, antiques, old stones and muted fabrics in a master class of interior pizzazz. Fit for a king? Sure, he’s stayed here, and when I slumped into a sofa next to a blazing fire it was to share conversation with 4 of Spain’s best-known actors. Remote, remarkable and revitalising, La Torre del Visco is about hospitality at its very best.

Highs

  • Award-winning cuisine with a a daily changing menu and an open-kitchen philosophy: you can learn what’s behind the divine food
  • Beautifully remote and peaceful with fabulous hiking, biking and horse riding all around
  • A lovely pool for lazy days
  • I liked owner Jemma's warmth and enthusiasm, and a high staff-to-guest ratio ensures you’re brilliantly cared for
  • Perfect for a special occasion

Lows

  • Winters can be very cold, but crisp and sunny too, and you won’t find a more snug hideaway
  • No TVs or minibars, though Suites have DVD players and open fires
  • No other restaurants within walking distance, but you'll want to eat in every night anyway
  • Children are allowed, but it feels more of an adult place
  • You’ll need a car to get the best out of a stay here

Best time to go

If spring, autumn and summer are the best times of year for exploring what lies all around you, Visco is also a great place to stay in winter, when fires are lit in the public spaces and all bedrooms and suites feel warm and welcoming. Wildflowers - much of the surrounding land has never seen the use of pesticides - are mind-boggling from April through to June. The hotel closes annually from early Jan - early Feb.

Our top tips

Book a return flight for a week to Barcelona, have a couple of nights of city culture (see our recommended places to stay), then spoil yourself with a 5-night stay at La Torre del Visco. You’ll return home revitalised but may find yourself wishing you could up sticks and move to La Matarranya...

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 16
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • 6+ year olds preferred
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Suite

Rooms

Rooms and suites look out to the estate’s rose gardens, patios and meadows; a couple embrace views of the valley beyond. I was struck by their quietude, and not just in the literal sense. Original art, antiques and muted colours and fabrics impart individual character, yet the rooms aren’t in the least bit showy. Expect cut flowers and smooth Egyptian cotton sheets on excellent beds. There’s WiFi but no TVs or minibars: that’s not what La Torre del Visco’s about.

Most rooms have tubs, and you get a pile of white towels, along with bathrobes and slippers. Bathroom goodies are courtesy of Woods of Windsor - gel, shampoo and body lotion, herbal soap.

If you're here during winter, book a Suite for a lovely lounge with a fireplace. Just the spot for a day of reading and tea drinking.

If you're here during the peak of summer, do note that many but not all of the rooms have air con- if this is very important to you, please request when booking.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Meals at Visco are imaginative and beautifully presented. Recipes combine Aragonese and Catalan influences with those of the Med, and many ingredients (including the olive oil) come from the estate’s organic farm. Fish and shellfish are brought up from the Ebro Delta whilst meats are sourced close to home.

At dinner I opted for the menú de degustación (à la carte is also on offer). Cherry gazpacho was followed by a salad with home-smoked salmon, before turbot cooked with saffron was served with sautéed veg. Next came lamb wrapped in leaves of Swiss chard, then coffee and walnut sponge with goat’s cheese ice cream. The accompanying local wines were superb, and if you’re looking for a grand coupage you’ll find it in Visco’s 15th-century wine cellar.

Evening dining is about candles and silver service, but you can choose to breakfast at one big table in the kitchen whilst watching the cooks at work. It’s convivial, fun and might easily morph into brunch... Or you can grab a table on the terrace and soak up the views as you tuck into just-squeezed OJ and flaky pastries.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Borrow a bike and ride the magnificent Val de Zafán Via Verde
  • Walk out from the house along one of 4 marked hiking trails, through forests, meadows and past wild-swimming spots
  • Saddle up and explore the Matarranya on horseback: there’s a stables just down the road
  • Discover medieval villages without the tourists: La Fresneda and Valderrobres are fascinating places to begin your forays, the latter with a stunning Gothic castle
  • Learn some skills while you're staying: formal cookery courses are on offer, and classes on photography and painting are run regularly
  • Dip into a good book. The library has thousands of titles (Jemma was formerly a publisher in Madrid), and the pool is made for lounging by
  • Head out with binoculars and a bird guide: La Matarranya is an ornithological wonderland
  • Play the piano or have a game of chess
  • After dinner, hunker down on the star-gazing terrace where you’ll find sofas and a couple of powerful telescopes (the hotel is Starlight Foundation certified). Best done with a cognac

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Art classes
    • Birdwatching
    • Cooking classes
    • Creative writing
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Mountain biking
    • Photography classes
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Star gazing
    • Wine tasting
  • Kids

    Children are welcome even if this isn’t a hotel which focuses on families. The library, extended breakfasts, art and foodie focus are all pretty grown-up, but there's lots of outside space which kids will love. Best for 6+ year olds.

    Best for:

    Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Each of the room categories has a twin option, and several rooms are large enough to take extra beds (or have sofabeds), making them ideal for families.

    Children's meals:

    Kids under 6 are offered a kitchen supper before 8.30pm, when formal dining begins.

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

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

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