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Accomodation in Logrono

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Hi,

We'll be in Spain next week for the harvest festival in Logrono. Does anyone have any recommendations for places to stay and for restaurants?

We'll be in that area for about 7 days and plan on travelling around, eating and drinking. So other restaurants/hotels recommendations in the area would be great too. I've already taken down Maribel's recs for Laguardia. And the parador in Olite. We'll probably go to Haro and Figueres too. We're flying into and out from Barcelona.

Thanks,
Nanda.

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    Hi nanda,
    If you must stay in Logroño and since you have a car, I'd choose the deluxe, brand new Grand Hotel AC La Rioja. Very snazzy, as are all the Gran Clase ACs and with a garage.
    But.....
    I'd urge you instead to choose Laguardia
    (Biasteri in Basque) as your base for part of your stay!
    We used to start our touring of Northern Spain in the Laguardia-Logroño area, and we know the Logroño hotels well. While Logroño is a very pleasant town with a really nice central park, the Espolón, and a really great street, the Calle Laurel, for tapas at Casa Pali (#11-try their fried eggplant with cheese, featured in The New Tapas cookbook) and succulent roast lamb at Cachetero (#3) and modern, creative fare at El Muro (#15), but...
    10th century Laguardia, just minutes away, is truly unique. It has a spectacular backdrop right under the Sierra de Cantabria, is completely surrounded by defensive walls, a classic fortified bastide town, with only 3 long, narrow and dark pedestrianised streets. I'll just repeat my recs here for others, as you've already taken them down.
    In Laguardia, you have 3 very distinctive, unique hotel choices, all that have been tried now by Fodorites:
    my favorite, the sybaritic little mansion complete with turret, the "Castillo del Collado", just outside and above the main town gate, near the parque del Collado promendade with its scenic views of the vineyards, filled with antiques and very originally designer-decorated by a friend of mine, the indefatigable Javier Acillona (it was his 8 year labor of love-it's been featured in Spanish Vogue and Michelin gives it a red designation for charm),
    the "Antigua Bodega de don Cosme Palacio", a reconverted winery cum hotel where each room is named for a grape varietal, with bar in the frescoed cellars, a French Basque chef, next door to the modern Palacios winery, down below the medieval town, on the road to Logroño,
    then the third in choice, located inside the medieval walls, on main street, the "Posada Mayor de Migueloa", in an 17th century stone mansion, with noble woods, creaking floors, exposed stone walls and decorated with antiques in a more rustic style. Downstairs the owner has his own bodega, produces his own top quality red wine and has a cozy wine bar with its own independant entrance from the street behind the hotel. It's more like a B&B and very popular with British guests.
    All 3 are highly atmospheric.
    But if you're looking for something larger and more "hotel-like", Laguardia now has its own 4 star, full service hotel, the "Villa de Laguardia", off the Logroño road, which has all the bells and whistles you'd find in a Logroño hotel plus a Basque restaurant, "El Medoc Alavés", which we haven't yet tried.


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    Now to the really important stuff-food and wine!

    We know this Rioja area very well, as we have close friends in Laguardia, and here are some of their insider dining tips, which I'm sure you'll enjoy:

    In Laguardia itself, Javier Acillona has his own fine dining establishment in his Castillo but also owns the celebrated "Marixa" restaurant with rooms down the street, which is a favorite of the bodegueros and features hearty Riojan cuisine plus huge wine list.
    Inside the medieval town, the "Posada M. de Migueloa" has nice dining which our Pamplona friends love, and for Basque pintxos, I head up Calle Mayor to the top to "El Pórtico" at #2, upstairs. Featured in a Rioja article in Oct. '02 Food and Wine, written by a Basque chef friend of ours.

    In tiny little Paganos, 2 km from Laguardia, there's the inexpensive but delicious asador (roasting tavern) Héctor Oribe" on Gasteiz 8. The chef trained under famed Basque chefs Arzak and Arguiñano and is making quite a name for himself. This unassuming place has a fantastic price to quality ratio, with a degustation menu for only 25 euros.
    It's a Michelin Bibi Gourmand.

    In Labastida, on the way to Haro, on the main street below and to the right of the tourist office, the wonderfully atmospheric, very medieval feeling family asador "Ariño", where the parents and son wait on tables, fuss over you, and the daughter makes delectable desserts. Fantastic and enormous "chuletón" (porterhouse). An experience not to be missed. We didn't see a menu, but there's one posted on the door as you walk in. The son speaks a bit of English. We found this place by asking Labastida's mayor where he went for lunch everyday!

    In Elciego, below Laguardia, where Frank Gehry's new Guggen-esque structure is being built for Marqués de Riscal (set to open in '04), we enjoy another simple asador serving huge portions, very reasonable wine prices, called the "Txisko"
    and in Fuenmayor, where the AGE and Montecillo bodegas are found, another asador, the "Alameda" with a nice decor, low prices, and 2 grills, one for steaks, one for impeccably fresh fish. Any restaurant that a winemaker frequents here in the Rioja is bound to be superb.

    And in the tiny town of Clavijo, south of Haro, where according to legend,Santiago Matamoros slew a vast army of Moors, next to the castle in ruins, you have a tiny little hotel/restaurant called "Casa Tila", also featured in Food and Wine. The chef, Iñaki is Basque.

    In Haro, we like the very simple, rustic but famous "Casa Terete", where you'll dine on bare wooden tables and feast on vegetable stew (menestra) and baby roast lamb. Also "Beethoven II", on Calle Santo Tomás 10 (the street where you'll find the great wine shops, like the "Catedral del Vino-Casa Quintín") has great tapas.

    Just 5 km. to the south of Haro, in the village of Casalarreina you have "La Vieja Bodega", with charming country décor, lots of atmosphere. Magnificent food, wildly popular on wkds. Has a garden.

    Then the two FINEST dining venues in the entire Rioja (according to our chef friends and the Spanish gastronomic guides) are "Casa Toni" in interesting San Vicente de la Sonsierra (we had our very, very best Rioja meal ever here in Nov. -classic dishes like baby lamp chops grilled on grape vines done in a highly creative style, even red wine ice cream that was delicious!) and the much lauded "Echaurren" in the atmospheric, picturesque mountain and ski town of Ezcaray, which would make a very scenic excursion for you during the week. It's a foodie's pilgrimage site. Gourmands from all over the country come to Echaurren to dine on the lady owner, Marisa Sánchez and her son Francis' haute cuisine. They also have a great sommelier. www.echaurren.com
    The town is also famed for its handwoven baskets and is filled with antique shops.

    While you're in that neck of the woods, the Parador at Santo Domingo de la Calzada makes a nice rest stop, and a visit to the Cathedral is a must.

    We took clients down to the Parador in Olite in mid July for drinks and a look at the archtecturally splendid town, but for lunch we always head them on to neighboring Tafalla, where you have one of Navarra's great restaurants and winners of the National Gastronomy Prize, the "Túbal" with 1 Michelin star, located on the unprepossesing main square. Step into the place and you won't believe that such an elegantly decorated, large restaurant could be found in such a modest town. Again, a family owned place with son running the kitchen, mother and daughter has the maitre team. Gets 8/10 in the Gourmetour guide.
    www.restaurantetubal.com

    Wine stores in Logroño: "Palacio del Vino" on the Avenida de Burgos, "Universal de Vinos" on Saturnino Ulargui, "La Catedral de Vinos" in Old Quarter on Portales.
    Riojan gourmet food shop: "Jelen Rioja", on Marqués de Murrieta, second branch on Jorge Vigón.

    And please stop at La Vinoteca inside Laguardia's medieval walls for both fine wines and gourmet items.

    Hope this gives you some ideas.

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    Wow... thanks Maribel. I've taken a print-out and will add this to my "Rioja and its Wines" copy.

    We haven't had the time to sit down and work out an actual plan of what we're doing when. But we're arriving in Barcelona on the 18th (thursday) night and on friday picking up our car and heading out towards logrono. We thought we'd get there a day or two before the festival (sunday) to find a place to stay. I'm going to have to try again, but when I did, 2 weeks ago, the recommendation you gave for Logrono was all booked up.

    Possibly on the Monday or Tuesday, we'll do the wine routes as described by the book. Deciding on where to stay depending on where we are. I think we will end up in Laguardia though. It just sounds beautiful. On Thursday I guess we're thinking that we might head back to Figures for Dali and then back to Barcelona to spend some time before heading back on Sunday, 28th.

    Since we're unsure of our actual plans, we can't really book much of the accomodation. Hopefully we're not leaving it too late. A Spanish friend told us that this area isn't very touristy so it should be okay to decide as we go.

    Plus with wine and food all around us, we figure that it'd be just nice to take our time and not worry about where we have to be next ;).

    Thanks so much for your recommendations. I'm sure we won't go much wrong with them.

    -- Nanda.

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    nanda,
    You're welcome. I'm really glad you have the Rioja and its Wines book, as it's the only tome around these days that's even remotely accurate. We followed some of its suggested tours as well in Nov. When in Laguardia, I'd tour the state-of-the-art Bodegas Ysios; you can see the undulating titanium roof by architect Santiago Calatrava shining in the distance, down by the El Poblado Bronze Age settlement/museum, just follow the signs that say "Camino del Poblado". M-F visits at 11, 1 and 4, wkds. by apt. only at 11 and 1.
    Also the Bodegas Heredad Ugarte, which a Fodorite and our Pamplona friends recently enjoyed. In fact, we our friends wanted to take us there in Nov., but we called for an apt. too late in the day. It's also open on wkds. but mornings only. It's just beyond Laguardia in the tiny town of Páganos. A visit to H.Ugarte followed by lunch at Héctor Oribe would make for a great afternoon.
    See www.heredadugarte.com for visiting info.
    We took a corporate group down to Laguardia in July to the Bodegas Campillo, next to the Villa Lucía Wine Museum right on the Logroño road before entering the town. It's the most classically elegant and impressive of them all, with the very best wines (their red Reserva Especial '94,'95,'96 are spectacular) produced in Laguardia. But you need to email, fax or call ahead for reservations. email: info@bodegascampillo.es The director is Pilar.

    In Haro, I'd visit Muga down in the Barrio de la Estación-Barrio de las Bodegas neighborhood by the railroad, F.C.C.C. station It has scheduled visits Mon-Fri at 11 and 4:30. But no afternoon visit on Fri.
    3 euros Just show up-easy! And there's covered parking across the street.

    About Laguardia hotel reservations:
    Hotel Villa de Laguardia has 67 doubles, so you'll surely find something last minute there, although the other 3 lodgings are very small and really popular on wkds. As nice as former convent Hotel Los Augustinos is in Haro, I really wouldn't overnight in Haro, as it's a no nonsense, hard working wine town that has its attractive parts but generally looks somewhat ramshackle as well. And it's a maze to get around. It can be seen in a couple of hrs.

    Our other favorite wine towns for their picturesque-ness are lovely Briones with its highly atmospheric plaza, San Vicente de la Sonsierra (go all the way up to the top to the huge church which faces Briones across the bridge), Elciego and Samaniego.

    A very special red we purchased that we never find available at home:
    Prado Enea Gran Reserva '94, if you'd like a real splurge.

    Since the AC isn't available in Logroño, your next best bet would probably be the NH Herencia Rioja, the NH being another "hip" Spanish chain (its former CEO, Antonio Catalán, created the AC chain).

    Have a great time!

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    nanda,
    Almost forgot something *extremely* important ;-) One of the very best tortilla de patatas in all of Spain can be found in Logroño, yes Logroño, at the Bar Tahiti on República Argentina 16!!! (closed Tues). In fact, the lady chef will be competing once again in San Sebastián in Nov. in the annual tortilla competition, part of the 4 day Best of Gastronomy convention, another professional foodie pilgrimage.
    And Meson Egües in Logroño on Campa 3 serves one heck of a roast lamb-an 8/10 in my "Best of Spanish Gastronomy" guide.

    Happy eating and drinking!

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