1. Drink
  2. Eat
  3. Drink
  4. Oh yeah, and visit Elciego and Laguardia


I had my best weekend ever in this little town located in the La Rioja region of Basque Country (although La Rioja is just a region, it was granted autonomy due to its historical significance – thus its listing as a community). Sounds silly I know, but it’s true! One weekend, we decided to escape to this miniature pueblo known for its wine, and now especially for its luxury hotel designed by Frank Gehry. The well known bodega, Marques de Riscal, decided some years ago that they wanted to create this amazing hotel in order to attract more visitors (or so I’ve been told). What probably initially seemed to many as an out of place modern building, has now become a beloved part of the landscape. Gehry designed it such that the colors, reflections and shapes of the building would reflect the countryside – from the purple and gold tones, to the sprawling form that resembles a grapevine. Inside can’t help but feel a part of the landscape either – every corner you turn is a spectacular view that almost seems framed by the hotel and placed there. This combined with the wine, oh yes, and the spa as well, make it an ideal destination to both relax and experience the Spanish culture.

What to do:
Drink. Eat.

No, seriously, this is the best thing you can do while you are there. If you make your objective to enjoy the wine and food, then your mission will surely include all that you could have ever dreamed of. You may want to start with a wine tour at Marques de Riscal, which is then followed by wine tasting. You can also take a short trip to the neighboring town of Laguardia. This pueblo is another wine epicenter – so much so that it is in fact built on top of bodegas, which are so fragile that they do not allow cars to drive in the city. Meandering through the city you can easily smell that familiar scent of bodega creeping up from every fisure. You feel like you are floating on wine. I like that.

Where to stay:
If you go to Elciego, do it right. Fork over some cash and stay at the Marques de Riscal Hotel. It’s not cheap, but you get a lot of bang for your buck (eh hem, euro). And who can put a price on a best weekend ever anyway??

Where to eat:
If you stay at the Marques de Riscal Hotel, the restaurant there is certainly exquisit. If you would like to venture out and experience something a little bit more traditional, head to Laguardia to a restaurant called Mayor de Migueloa.

Experiences from my blog