Apologies to Greg Wallace, but Spanish TV were filming the final of Spain’s version of ’Masterchef’ while we were staying. The phrase says it all though, you would have to look really hard to find fault with this hotel, it scores so highly on a number of counts. I would also urge you, if you can, to stay longer than the average stay for this hotel which is only two or three days. I would guess many stay here as part of an itinerary taking in the vineyards of Rioja, or travelling further into Spain. The history, scenery and culture of the region are worthy of a longer look....and so is the wine!
As to the hotel itself, it is stunning on many levels, from the iconic architecture of Frank Gehry to the quality of the food and the genuine friendliness of ALL the staff...a remarkable team ethos! As it is only a relatively small hotel, albeit one of Starwoods ’Luxury Collection’, at just 43 rooms, they get to know you very quickly and make sure your stay is memorable.
Both restaurants are excellent, the a la carte having a Michelin star and is quite expensive, but well worth the treat! The bistro on the other hand is more than reasonable considering the level of the hotel (the Riojan lamb shanks are absolutely delicious). An extensive wine list as you would expect, but with many wines, including Marques de Riscal, at less than 25 euros a bottle...you can indulge yourselves to vintages at 100’s of euros if you really want to! Breakfasts are also a real treat, many local foods are included from cold meats, breads and cheeses through to pastries and fruit as well as a cooked option.
Bedrooms are modern and well equipped with large bathrooms and drench showers, very comfortable beds and a good sized seating area. Our room was across the bridge in the extension, perhaps we were initially a little disappointed not to be in the main hotel, but on reflection a good move as the extension rooms are bigger. Another advantage of these rooms is that you are above the spa and fitness area with its lovely pool. We do not usually take advantage of pools, saunas, whirlpools etc. but on this occasion we did...frequently, they were so easy to access with the lift.
So many positives, it is genuinely difficult to find anything to criticise. It is quiet though, a car is essential to explore the countryside around and to take wine back to the UK! Many of the wines are a bargain, not only from the Riscal bodega, but from the many within easy reach of the hotel...unfortunately, apart from at the hotel, tasting is very restricted for the driver for obvious reasons, but my wife thoroughly enjoyed herself! Pedro and Christina on the front desk will willingly arrange guided tours of the surrounding vineyards if you want the driving problem taken away. I would recommend the drive up the N111 from Logrono to Soria, spectacular scenery and villages. Also La Guardia for its history, wine and food. Roads are excellent, motorways, N roads and all but the most minor of side roads are a pleasure to drive on; driving is also good with almost everyone observing the limits...be warned!
Finally, you cannot get away from the fact that Marques de Riscal is a relatively expensive hotel, but good reductions and deals can be had if you book well in advance, and, as one of the staff pointed out to me, the current economic situation means that they have to be competitive. At the end of the day, as others have remarked, Marques de Riscal is a great, if not a unique experience, however many days you stay....so take the chance while you can!
- Also Known As:
- Marques De Riscal Hotel
- Marques De Riscal Elciego
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to The City of Wine, where you will discover a masterpiece, Hotel Marques de Riscal Elciego. With 43 luxurious rooms and suites, an exceptional spa and a superb culinary offer, this boutique hotel, located in the heart of la Rioja alavesa and designed by famous arquitect Frank O. Gehry, is the ideal place for enoturim lovers. ... more less
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