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10 of the best wine hotels in Rioja

Ever since the opening of Marqués de Riscal’s City of Wine in 2006, those seeking both traditional and modern wine hotels have flocked to Rioja. From the Rothschild-owned Palacio de Samaniego to the ultra-exclusive La Casa Cosme Palacio, here are 10 top places to stay - either at the estate or with a deep connection to Rioja's wines

Words by Lucy Shaw

marques de riscal hotel
The striking structure of Marqués de Riscal: the winery's hotel was instrumental in kickstarting wine tourism in the Rioja region

From glass-fronted Bond lair Bodegas Baigorri, designed by Basque architect Iñaki Aspiazu, to Santiago Calatrava’s undulating aluminium roof at Bodegas Ysios – via Zaha Hadid’s futuristic pavilion at López de Heredia and Frank Gehry’s titanium wonder at Marqués de Riscal – some of the world’s greatest architects have proved their mettle in Rioja, putting it firmly on the tourism map. A trip to the northern Spanish region is not only of interest to oenophiles keen to taste elegant expressions of Tempranillo and Garnacha from its three sub-zones; it’s also a playground for design aficionados interested in scoping out structures sprung from the imaginations of some of the greatest minds in the game.

Wine tourism kicked off in earnest in Rioja with the much-hyped opening of Marqués de Riscal’s City of Wine in 2006. With Gehry behind the design, a cutting-edge Caudalie vinotherapy spa on site, and a quartet of restaurants to its name, Riscal’s bold bet on tourism threw down the gauntlet. While some of the top names only open their doors to members of the wine trade, most of the big guns in Rioja now offer tours and tastings at the very least, while many have expanded their tourism offerings to include contemporary restaurants, boutique hotels and a host of visitor experiences, from horse-drawn carriage rides through the vines to Segway tours around estates. Capitalising on this growing thirst for oenotourism, a number of new Rioja wine hotels have recently opened in Rioja Alta and Alavesa, with Haro, Laguardia and Logroño at the epicentre.

Rioja wine hotels
The tower at Eguren Ugarte hotel in Laguardia offers panoramic views of Rioja's Toloña mountain range

Just as Rioja is celebrated both for its long-aged gran reservas and polished vinos de autor, it also caters to those seeking to sleep somewhere sleek and ultra-modern, via venues like Hotel Viura, and guests keen for a more traditional experience. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best Rioja wine hotels to stay in right now, from the Rothschild-owned Palacio de Samaniego to the ultra-exclusive La Casa Cosme Palacio, which can only be booked by invitation.

10 top hotels at Rioja wine estates

Rioja wine hotels

Marqués de Riscal

Elciego

Marqués de Riscal changed the tourism game in Rioja when it opened its glinting wonder of a wine hotel designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry in 2006, whose wave-like design was inspired by the folds in a flamenco skirt. Behind the cascading sheets of purple, gold and silver titanium lie 61 guest rooms and suites offering panoramic views over the medieval town of Elciego. Given the contours of the building, each of the rooms is unique in shape and character, with high ceilings and huge windows looking out through a web of steel supports.

For those with knots to untie, there’s a Caudalie vinotherapy spa – complete with an indoor pool and fitness centre – where guests can indulge in grape scrubs and moisturising wine wraps. Keen to cater to every whim, the hotel is home to four restaurants: an al fresco asador (grill); casual wine bar and bistro; Restaurant 1860 Tradición, which celebrates the best of Basque cuisine; and the Michelin-starred Restaurante Gastronómico, headed up by chef Francis Paniego, where you’ll find many a back vintage of Riscal on pour alongside 200 other top names. Don’t miss sundowners at the rooftop lounge bar.

B&B from €450 per night, marquesderiscal.com/en

Rioja wine hotels

Hotel Viura

Villabuena de Álava

Housed next to a 17th century sandstone church in Villabuena de Alava, a tiny medieval village in Rioja Alavesa, and set against a backdrop of the Sierra de Cantabria mountains, Hotel Viura seems to surge out of the ground. The cubed rooms of this four-star luxury boutique hotel designed by architects Joseba and Xabier Aramburu pile nonchalantly on top of each other. It may look like an office block fallen from the sky, but the hotel’s higgledy-piggledy aesthetic somehow works.

Named after Rioja’s flagship white grape, Viura’s 35 spacious rooms are minimalist in style and boast behemoth beds. Everything is studiedly cool, from the red Nespresso machines to the chic bath products. Its rooftop lounge bar has an outdoor cinema and offers 360-degree views. The hotel’s cellar, meanwhile, includes a sizeable offering of barrel-fermented Viuras and a number of old vintages of Rioja big guns, including CVNE, Marqués de Riscal, López de Heredia and Roda. In the restaurant, gold barrels hover from the ceiling and dishes, such as cod croquettes, crab ravioli, and green pea and black truffle pintxos, are Basque-inspired with a modern twist.

B&B from €150 per night, hotelviura.com/en/

Rioja wine hotels

La Casa Cosme Palacio

Álava

Taking bespoke stays up a notch is the by-invitation-only La Casa Cosme Palacio, nestled inside 19th century winery Bodegas Cosme Palacio in Laguardia. Designed to feel like a home from home, the guesthouse is modern in feel but retains the building’s original features. Service is next level, with guests privy to their own round-the-clock chef and butler and free to roam the 4,000sqm space. While there, guests can ride an e-bike through Tempranillo vineyards, indulge in beauty treatments, work up an appetite at the fitness centre, take a dip in the outdoor pool, and enjoy a private tour of the winery, followed by a wine-pairing dinner whipped up by an in-house chef.

The brainchild of Entrecanales Domecq e Hijos, the guesthouse majors in privacy and comfort. Designed by architect Gregorio Marañón, landscape gardener María Medina and interior designer Cristina Arechabala, the stylish, Scandi-inspired space is rooted in creating a sense of calm in harmony with its surroundings. Able to sleep 26 and with bookings starting from €5,000, it boasts nine bedrooms and four suites decked out in elegant, neutral tones, with open brickwork and wooden furniture adding to the sense of a home-from-home.

Bookings start at €5,000, lacasacosmepalacio.com/en/home/

Finca de los Arandinos

Entrena

Rioja does modernism well, and the wine hotel at Bodega Finca de los Arandinos is no exception. Perched on a hilltop in Entrena, near Rioja’s capital of Logroño, the glass-fronted Cubist structure feels like something you might see on the Cornish coast. The winery and airy rooms above it were designed by architect-turned-winemaker Javier Arizcuren, who embraces an industrial chic aesthetic through a mix of concrete and blonde wood. Across the lobby you’ll find 10 smaller rooms with modular furniture and daring décor by Spanish fashion designer David Delfín. All rooms offer tranquil views of the vine-studded landscape.

The tasting-menu-driven in-house restaurant Tierra (meaning ‘earth’ or ‘land’) champions hyper-local ingredients and offers scenic views over the vines at the foot of the Moncalvillo Mountains. Spanish ingredients are given a contemporary twist in dishes like turbot in a green Thai sauce, and steak tartare with foie gras shavings. The cherry on the cake is the hotel spa, where guests can detox in its sauna and steam room, lather up in a Turkish bath, top up tans on sun loungers made from barrel staves, then cool off in the pool.

B&B from €135 per night, fincadelosarandinos.com

Eguren Ugarte

Laguardia

There’s the chance to wake up to views of vines as far as the eye can see at Eguren Ugarte in Laguardia. Spread across its spacious grounds, the hotel includes a golf course, miniature lake and restaurant. Unmistakable from the outside thanks to its castle-like turret that juts out of its roof like a medieval watchtower, the interiors offer the perfect combination of traditional flourishes, via decorative tiles and wall murals, and modern twists, from its plush beds and spacious showers (boasting jets at different heights) to a complimentary mini bar stocked with beer, water and soft drinks.

The hotel pays homage to the winery’s founder Vitorino Eguren, and each room is furnished with his 200-page memoir, which guests can fan through on a private balcony overlooking the Toloña Mountains. At on-site restaurant Martín Cendoya, chefs cook lamb chops roasted over vine shoots in open fires, which are served with a simple lettuce, tomato and onion salad and Riojan string beans. Among its more modern dishes are Idiazábal cheese croquettes; grilled octopus with white truffle and paprika; and clams with salsa verde, which can be paired with wines from the bodega’s vast back catalogue.

B&B from €120 per night, egurenugarte.com

Finca La Emperatriz

Baños de Rioja

At Bodeagas Finca La Emperatriz in Baños de Rioja, overnight visitors have the privacy of villa life, with a trio of properties available to rent a stone’s throw from the vines. This was once the property of Eugenia de Montijo, the last empress of France and wife of Napoleon III. The former farm workers’ cottages have been given a modern makeover while preserving their original features, providing the perfect setting for rest, relaxation and a digital detox, complete with stunning views over the Cantabria and Demanda Mountains.

Two of the villas have two bedrooms, making them ideal for family stays. The other is a solo act suited to couples. All have their own private terrace with vineyard views. During a stay, which includes a complimentary continental breakfast, guests can enjoy tours of the vineyards, winery and cellars, and swot up on the Finca La Emperatriz range during a tutored tasting of its wines, followed by a few sundowners at the estate’s al fresco wine bar.

B&B from €144 per night, hermanoshernaiz.com/en

Palacio de Samaniego

Samaniego

This stylish abode has the revered Rothschild name behind it. The famous wine family partnered with Vega Sicilia in 2004 on a Rioja project called Macán, which includes a cutting-edge winery in Samaniego. Three years ago, the family added a boutique wine hotel into the mix housed in an 18th century palace where you’ll find artworks from Baroness Ariane de Rothschild’s private collection. Its nine brightly coloured rooms are named after different grape varieties and arranged around the building’s original stone staircase.

Small details are a big deal here, from the complimentary bottles of wine on arrival to the pillow menu for light sleepers. The hotel’s suite comes with a fitted kitchen, or there’s Tierra y Vino, an on-site restaurant that fuses the best of French and Basque cuisine alongside Rothschild wines. Chef Bruno Coelho shines a light on local produce, and when he’s not manning the stoves you’ll find him tending to his veg patch in the hotel’s kitchen garden. Don’t leave without enjoying an e-bike ride through the vineyards followed by a snooze in a hammock on the terrace.

B&B from €279 per night, palaciodesamaniego.com/en/

Casa Robla

Elvillar

Housed in a former winery, the pretty, pared-back Casa Robla was built in the 18th century and rescued from dereliction by contractor Eduardo Zabala and his winemaker wife Cristina Blanco, who steers the ship at Bodegas Blanco Pérez de Azpillaga in nearby Lantziego. The couple have respectfully maintained the spirit of the house’s former life: in the breakfast room you’ll see traces of the old stone lagar and press, which stands in its original spot. Further into the house, El Cabaret is an old cellar where guests can enjoy Blanco’s latest vintages.

Located in the quiet village of Elvillar, the site is run as a B&B and has eight large, tastefully decorated, en-suite rooms. With their clean lines, natural materials and muted tones, the rooms are almost monastic in their simplicity, and intentionally so. While it doesn’t have a restaurant or tea-and-coffee-making facilities in rooms, guests can use Casa Robla’s kitchen to make drinks and prepare cheese and charcuterie platters. Powered by renewable energy, this sustainable enterprise is a 10-minute drive from Laguardia, where plenty of tapas bars await.

B&B from €90 per night, casarobla.com/en/

Santa Maria Briones

Briones

Housed in a sympathetically renovated 16th century manor house, boutique hotel Santa María Briones dials up the charm. All of its 16 rooms are large soothing spaces with original stone walls, painted wooden beams, L’Occitane bath products and vineyard views. Ask for the Berones Suite, which is split over two levels and offers direct access to the manor’s main balcony, or room 33, which has the best views. The hotel overlooks the Ebro river and village of Briones with its ancient defensive wall, which the courtyard is built around.

Guests can take their pick from its two restaurants: Allegar for fine dining, and Calado for traditional-leaning cuisine. At the former, Rioja native Juan Cuesta puts a modern spin on local classics via the likes of pickled partridge ravioli. Look out for his crowd-pleasing honeyed crispy lamb on sweet potato cream and Panko breadcrumbs. At the atmospheric Calado expect rustic yet refined dishes like grilled Iberian pork and Basque cheesecake. Work off all the indulgence at the gym or carry it on in the library-style wine bar.

B&B from €235 per night, santamariabriones.com/en/

Hospederia de Vino at Bodegas Puelles

Ábalos

This former hotel at Bodegas Puelles – one of the first Rioja wine hotels on the outskirts of Ábalos – has been recently transformed into a guesthouse sleeping 12 that guests can rent out in its entirety for family stays or weekends away with friends. Boasting six double rooms with private bathrooms and balconies, and a spa with a heated pool, sauna, jacuzzi and sun terrace, it’s ideal for those seeking a self-contained stay. All guests get a guided tour of the winery and grounds, which includes a tasting of five wines, including the bodega’s 100% Viura, Crianza and Reserva.

Open from March until October, the pet-friendly guesthouse has a fully equipped kitchen and a dining room seating up to 20. The rooms are bright and cosy, with a pared-back aesthetic alongside modern touches such as a smart TV and minibar. Best of all, they have floor-to-ceiling windows that swing open to reveal views across the vineyards. Look out for the 17th century mill during the vineyard tour.

Prices are available on request, bodegaspuelles.com