I’m not much for writing reviews unless I’m thoroughly impressed. In my book, a very good experience deserves 4 stars. But an experience which becomes memorable for years to come and the highlight of your trip highly deserves praise. My stay at El Refugio de Don Miguel did that for me.
My wife and stayed at this wonderful establishment for one night this past August. We had chosen Penaranda de Duero because of its quaintness and because we wanted to experience the true Ribera del Duero from centuries past. Otherwise, we could have stayed in a larger town like Aranda de Duero.
At first, we couldn’t find the hotel since there were no signs off the main road. However, the locals quickly showed us were it was. One thing that we found very attractive about the Ribera region was how eager people were to help.
We arrived late in the evening - about 7pm - and were greeted by the owners, Eugenia and Jesus. I speak Spanish, so we were able to communicate fine. Jesus speaks some English and he chatted some with my wife, who does not speak the language. Note that not being able to speak Spanish should not deter anyone from experiencing this great lodging establishment!
I had read about the famous “lechazo” (roasted lamb) of the Ribera del Duero region. Prior to our visit, I had made the mistake of not notifying El Refugio that we wanted to experience lechazo during our stay in town. Eugenia and Jesus had planned to serve a traditional chicken meal that night, which from previous reviews is very good. However, we really wanted to try lechazo. Sensing our desire, both Eugenia and Jesus called the local butcher shop to see if they had the cut of meat available. Fortunately they did! They then proceeded to let us know that the lechazo dinner would be ready by 10pm and that we should relax and unwind until then.
After doing some unpacking, we proceeded to walk down the two blocks to the town square. It was a beautiful evening in the square, full of life and the sense of “Old Spain” that we were eager to experience. We enjoyed a glass of wine at a restaurant in the square and retreated back to El Refugio. Upon returning, we were greeted once again by Jesus who quickly invited us to his wine cellar. Yes, his wine cellar! We walked down to the basement area and he showed us his collection of wonderful wines from the region. He proceeded to let us sample his “home-made” wine, which was good. Jesus detected that we had discerning wine palates, so he proceeded to recommend a wonderful Tempranillo for dinner (cost: 21 euros).
At 10pm, dinner was ready and we walked up to their quaint dining room. Upon the first mouthful, the lechazo was incredible! I am not a lamb person (have had too many gamey experiences in my life), but now I understood why people raved about lechazo. The meal also included the traditional salad, which my wife enjoyed immensely. She is a salad person and said that it was one of the freshest ones she has ever had.
After finishing our meal, we invited Eugenia and Jesus to join us for conversation. We ordered another bottle of the Tempranillo and chatted away. Jesus eventually went down to his cellar and brought up another wonderful blend for us to sample. All in all, by the time we finished up chatting and enjoying each other’s company, it was 4am!
We left the following day, but not before gathering our thoughts from the night before. We had truly had the best lodging experience of our lives. Eugenia and Jesus went completely out of their way to accommodate our wishes and to make our stay a memorable one. They totally succeeded in both. Five stars all the way!!
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