Rioja Travel Tips: A Guide to Rioja
Hospedería Señorío de Briñas The owners, antique restorers by trade, have mixed old objets with whimsical new frescoes in this former seventeenth-century palace (3 Travesía de la Calle Real, Briñas-Haro; 011-34-941-304-224; doubles from $110). They also help run the charming Hospedería Señorío de Casalarreina, a converted Dominican monastery (6 Plaza Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Casalarreina; 011-34-941-324-730; doubles from $145).
Hotel Antigua Bodega de Don Cosme Palacio A nineteenth-century winery-turned-inn run by the famed Bodegas Palacio winery. Spanish food critics swoon over its restaurant's modernized Riojan specialties, like a crisp mille-feuille of chistorra, a spicy sausage (Carretera Elciego, Laguardia; 011-34-945-621-19-51; doubles from $70).
Los Agustinos A former convent, pilgrims' hospice and prison, now a winemakers' hangout. The cocktail lounge is in what was once the arched chapel; prisoners' graffiti are preserved on the cloister columns (2 San Agustín, Haro; 011-34-941-311-308; doubles from $80).
Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada A twelfth-century hospice with awe-inspiring Gothic vaulting in the lobby. The hotel overlooks the intimate plaza of this movie-set-perfect medieval town known for its florid cathedral (3 Plaza del Santo, Santo Domingo de la Calzada; 011-34-941-340-311; doubles from $90).
Echaurren This hotel restaurant has gained new fans since chef Francis Paniego joined his mother, Marisa Sánchez, the doyenne of Riojan cooking. Paniego adds futuristic flair—bonito tuna bombe with jamón ibérico ice cream (2 Héroes de Alcázar; Ezcaray; 011-34-941-354-047).
La Vieja Bodega In a stone mansion perched over an old wine cellar, chef Juan Nales serves a mix of traditional dishes like salt-cod-stuffed piquillo peppers and innovative ones—say, crunchy fried pasta and langoustines in an ethereal leek sauce (17 Calvo Sotelo, Casalarreina; 011-34-941-324-254).
Marón This new 16-table restaurant is where chef José Félix Rodríguez shows off skills he learned at Arzak and El Bulli in dishes like a vibrant ragout of al dente vegetables with pig's trotter cream (49 Portales, Logroño; 011-34-941-270-077).
Terete There are always a few winemakers digging into the menestra riojana, a mélange of fried vegetables and chorizo. The wine list showcases reservas from Rioja's golden years—'62, '73, '82 (17 Lucrecia Arana, Haro; 011-34-941-310-023).
Architect Santiago Calatrava, responsible for Valencia's Science Museum, recently designed the stunningly curvaceous Bodegas Ysios winery (Finca de Carravacas, Laguardia; 011-34-902-333-315). Calatrava isn't the only world-class architect involved in awinery project here: Bodegas Julian Chivite brought in Rafael Moneo, known for Madrid's Atocha station, and at Marqués de Riscal, Frank Gehry of Guggenheim Bilbao fame is transforming the visitors' center.