Hotel Marques de Riscal

countryside, vineyards
  • Hotel Marques de Riscal Elciego Rioja
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• vineyard setting • avant-garde design • authentic local cuisine • impressive building designed by Frank Gehry • indoor swimming pool • Caudalie Vinothérapie spa

There’s something of an architecture arms race afoot in the Rioja wine country, with new buildings by the likes of Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava now joined by one from the Basque country’s adopted son, Frank Gehry. Originally intended just as a corporate headquarters for the Marquès de Riscal, the building proved to be too special not to share — so now, under the management of the Starwood Luxury Collection, it’s open to the paying public, as one of the most unique winery hotels in the world.

It’s a pretty unmissable statement, this titanium-clad mother ship, standing alongside the original 19th-century winery buildings. And from inside the rooms, it’s pretty much the state of the art in contemporary luxury lodging. Rooms in the main building are oddly shaped to follow the contours of the building, with huge windows canted outward, looking out through a web of steel supports and titanium ribbons. Rooms in the outbuilding, by contrast, are more traditional in plan, but their windows frame a front-row view of the gleaming Gehry building.

Both types, though, have access to the same top-shelf services — and service, for that matter. There’s a Caudalie vinotherapy spa, complete with indoor pool and expansive fitness center; there’s a molecular-gastronomy restaurant with a stunning view from atop the Gehry building; and there’s no shortage of opportunity to sample the Marquès de Riscal vintages, either on winery tours, organized tastings, at the dinner table, or in the first-floor café and wine bar.

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