Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Best town, lodging and dining recs in Rioja for big foodies
Notices

Best town, lodging and dining recs in Rioja for big foodies

Reply

Jan 7th, 2016, 10:15 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 216
Best town, lodging and dining recs in Rioja for big foodies

We are planning a mini-break to Rioja for a couple nights. We are torn between some tiny village or country hotel or something with a little more happening. We don't want a city atmosphere but do like to be able to walk to dinner and/or have a drink at a bar before dining. For a couple reference points we LOVE Cortona, Italy and we live in Yountville, California.

Here's my take or questions:
- Logrono seems large but like the idea of the Pinchos crawl and some restaurants nearby. While city is larger, wondering if you stick to the historic center does it still feel charming (similar to Florence)?

- Haro - seems like it may be a good option that's small and you could walk to bodegas and restaurants.

- Laguardia - gets high marks for charm but too quiet?

Also appreciate any dining recommendations for seriously good (not fancy) food. We just ate at a Michelin starred restaurant in Modena and it was lovely but I was sitting there thinking I really liked the family restaurant with great food the night before even better (we're big foodies but just not into the tasting menu thing). A great wine list with some local unknowns would also be wonderful.

Any hotel or B&B recommendations welcome also. Considered the Riscal property (I'm Starwood platinum for life and have zillions of points) but even though it gets great reviews it seems a little isolated and fussy. We would love to find a comfortable spot with great linens and simple furniture but not tacky). There appear to be a lot of dumps or overly modern places.
TJinSOMA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2016, 12:01 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
If you stay in Laguardia, you'll only be minutes away from Logroño. There are a few nice places to stay in Laguardia, including the Villa de Laguardia, but the Hotel Viura, in Villabuena de Álava, is probably the most comfortable, and right in the center of the Rioja.

http://www.maribelsguides.com/maribe...the-rioja.html

As far as it being too quiet, you have to remember that the Rioja is nothing more then a agricultural community where most people work in the wine or food production industries and typically go to bed early during the week. It's normally quiet after 10:00 pm except for the weekends and during fiesta.
Robert2533 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2016, 12:09 AM
  #3
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,199
Laguardia met my needs very well. Please see my trip report for more information, including lodging and dining recommendations.
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2016, 07:20 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,853
I did wine buying tour including Haro last year, follow my name back. The hotel we stayed in in Haro was not a great solution, there are nicer ones in town and I'd use Trip advisor.

Didn't have a bad meal in the place over 4 nights, but then for us the wine is the thing.

Haro, certainly the wine shops were closed by 7pm but the restaurants not open until 9pm plus.
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2016, 09:42 AM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 216
Thanks all. We aren't looking for lively but we just like to be able to have some options to walk from our hotel or flat for a cup of coffee, dinner or glass of wine. We're definitely not looking for late night clubbing. My concern on the properties in the country (not in a town) is we don't want dinner on the property to be our only option and while towns may be "close" clearly drinking and driving isn't an option (it is I guess but spending your vacation in a Spanish jail doesn't sound appealing).

Logrono seems like an obvious choice given the Pinchos bars but I don't want to be in some nondescript town that happens to have good bars. Haro seems like it may be the best bet, but the sites I've seen (including Maribel's) don't give a lot of detail on the towns feel. I can't quite wrap my head around how you can walk from town to the Bodegas given Napa has towns but the wineries are pretty spread out. We definitely have looked on Trip Advisor for properties but we're really looking for traveler's pros and cons on the towns where they've stayed similar to what we've reported on Cortona.

KJA - we did see your report, including Laguardia, but given the number of stops you covered, I wasn't sure of the size / options in Laguardia. Is there one mediocre restaurant or is it a town like Cortona where there are probably 20 good restaurants and a few taverns?
TJinSOMA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2016, 04:12 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
>mediocre restaurant< I tale it you are not familiar with the cuisine of La Rioja or the Basque Country. Venta de Moncalvillo in Daroca is one of the top restaurants in the area, along with Héctor Oribe in Páganos, Casa Toni in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Los Calaso in Briones, La Cueva de doña isabela in Casalarreina and of course Echaurren in Ezcaray. The restaurant at Marqúes del Riscal is bad, but one of our favorite stops, and that of some of the local wine makers, is Ariño in Labastida.

If you stay in Haro, recommend the Hotel Los Agustinos (hotellosagustinos.com), as well as their restaurant, Las Duelas, it's about a 20-minute walk down the hill from the city to the area know as "Barrio de la Estación de Haro", where you will find Bodegas Roda, Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, Muga, Bodegas Bilbaínas and La Rioja Alta, all within a few minutes walk of each other. C.V.N.E. is a little futher up the road in the Alavesa.

Roda and Muga have wine tasting rooms you can visit without taking a tour, but you'll have to check the opening hours.
Robert2533 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2016, 04:43 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 216
Thanks for the recommendations Robert. I'm sure the food in the region is great which is one of the reasons we're going. I would imagine individual towns have different quality and characteristics and while none of the distances are great, driving anywhere after having wine with dinner isn't an option for us.

I like the location of the hotel you recommended and saw the positive reviews, the rooms aren't exactly inspiring.
TJinSOMA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2016, 05:25 PM
  #8
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,199
re: Laguardia --

I don't know how many restaurants there are, but I remember that before I went, I identified several at a range of price points that seemed to me well worth considering. IIRC, the one that sounded best to me -- Amelibia -- was closed the days I was there. I enjoyed Cueva La Muralla very much; I was a bit less pleased with the cave part of Hotel Hospedería de Los Parajas, but its main restaurant gets great reviews. I walked by several pintxos bars there, too.

I was delighted with the B&B Erletxe -- charming place, excellent breakfast, gracious hostess.

And I enjoyed the town itself -- perched on a mesa-like hilltop, there are great views from outside the ancient city walls; inside the walls, there are ancient cobbled lanes and Santa Maria de los Reyes, with its magnificent portal. It is small, though -- you can easily walk just about every street in a few hours.

Like you, I wanted to be sure not to drive after a wine tasting, so FWIW, you might note that there is a winery right in Laguardia -- Bodega El Fabulista. And (as another Fodorite who stayed at the Erletxe, sssteve, reminded me) one does not actually need to imbibe the wines one tastes at the end of a winery tour -- spitting is appropriate. That's what I did at all the other wineries I visited. But that isn't to your liking, then Haro might be the best location for you, as it has quite a few wineries.

Enjoy your time in this lovely region!
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2016, 11:03 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
You have to understand that the wine regions in Spain are not noted for their 5-star accommodations, only their top quality restaurants.

The Rioja is probably the best known wine region in Spain, but it is still not open to development of resorts like you can find in California. This is still farm country and will hopefully remain that way into the near future.
Robert2533 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2016, 02:28 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,853
I liked Haro, it has one large square (with added band stand) with a host of roads leading off, just about every road off has at least one restaurant or on the walkways up to the church there are a in the region of 8 bars. Very little traffic in the very centre, nice walking, the square has the required number of bars and seating areas.

Once you get back from this small octopus of streets it quickly becomes residential. All this happening on an escarpment looking down on the railway junction (which is where just about all the Bodegas are) we walked past los agustinos and it looked pretty nice. The streets feel very safe.

You will find Reservas and Grand Reservas by the glass in some of the bars, not a bad way to end the day. We tapased in Los Barones which was good, the best wine and food we found were on Calle Navarra about 50m off the Plaza de la Paz, there is a bar and restaurant down there and they were good
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2016, 06:51 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,046
We have been at Marques des Riscal and you may be interested in our experiences:

- The building is breathtaking - from the outside and from the inside. I have seen many buildings from Frank O. Gehry, but this winery + hotel is his masterpiece. The view of the building with the vineyards in the foreground and the village in the background is unbeatable. While technologically from the outside, the inside decoration is warm, with much wood and natural stone. I admit, I am an architectural buff, and for me it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to sleep in this hotel.

- Even if you do not stay at Marques de Riscal, the winery tour is most rewarding. You will see both the historic caves and the modern wine making facilities and it ends, of course, with a tasting.

- If you choose not to stay there overnight, do the winery tour and have a few tapas or a full meal at the hotel. This would give you a taste of the fantastic architecture. And the food is good (albeit not cheap, but tapas are always affordable).
traveller1959 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2016, 04:13 PM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 216
Thank you all for the great replies. Exactly the detail we were hoping for and super helpful. Robert - agree on the rural!! While we love Napa, you definitely have to seek out its hidden gems these days amongst the commercial. Regarding lodging, we're just hoping to find somewhere comfortable and understated (hey I don't mind a Hampton Inn in the US now that they have white comforters and not some brightly colored polyester monstrosity).

We're leaning towards Laguardia or Haro and think either sound like good options (we'll probably let the restaurant reviews guide our decision as even if the local Bodegas aren't the greatest, they can still be fun and you can always get a "nicer" bottle at dinner).

We're thinking with respect to the Pintxos crawl in Logrono, we're going to hire a driver one day to tour a couple wineries and do the "snack crawl" for lunch instead of the evening. We'll definitely check out the de Riscal as well one day.
TJinSOMA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2016, 01:02 AM
  #13
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,199
Individual tastes are so unique! I must admit that I thought Gehry's Marques des Riscal a blot on the landscape. To my eye, its colors clashed quite unpleasantly with the natural hues of the surrounding landscape. In contrast, I've taken great pleasure in other Gehry masterpieces, including the Guggenheim in Bilbao (which is worthy -- IMO -- more or less ONLY for the building). JMO
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2016, 01:47 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 763
The tapas crawl along Calle Laurel in Logroño is an experience not to be missed.
http://www.callelaurel.org/en/pinchos-raciones
Revulgo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2016, 03:56 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,853
The Riscal from the platform of the church in the nearby town seems to blend in well with the hills while the changing colours as the clouds pass over head work well. I did not see a terrible clash. After all the very countryside of Rioja seems to be made of startling hills, sudden fields between rocky hill tops etc.

I was less impressed by the nearby vinyard development at Ysios.

The Guggenheim.... well I like the waterfront and it needed a "piece" to hold it all together I guess.
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2016, 08:09 PM
  #16
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,199
"The Riscal from the platform of the church in the nearby town seems to blend in well with the hills while the changing colours as the clouds pass over head work well."

That sounds lovely. Quite in contrast, what I saw, driving by, was a roof in violent and metallic shades of turquoise and rose. The rose, in particular, clashed painfully (to my eye) with the rust / grey / green palette of the surrounding countryside. I guess it depends on where / when one sees it!
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2016, 09:59 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,255
TJinSoma:

We were in Rioja 2 years ago for 12 days (including a couple in San Sebastion which is not in Rioja). Below is the URL of my web page page on that trip. It describes all the towns we were in, the hotels and lots of great restaurants.

Maybe it can help you in your planning.

http://www.travel.stv77.com/rioja/rioja.htm
sssteve is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2016, 08:08 AM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 216
Thank you Steve. Im glad you posted as I saw your report web page earlier in planning and while very detailed, I glossed over it given the number of towns you hit I was overwhelmed knowing our visit is much more limited. We've now zeroed in on staying in Laguardia (nice to then read you found it the most atmospheric) I reread and it's super helpful now that I have some focus on our itinerary.

We are only going to have two nights in Rioja so thinking the following:

Day 1:
Lunch - Hector Oribe on our way to Laguardia from Barcelona
Dinner in Laguardia - probably staying at Castle or Hospedieria

Day 2:
One or two winery tours and Logrono pintxos crawl for lunch (with a driver)
Dinner in Laguardia

Day 3:
Fly out of Bilbao for London

Trying to figure out a couple small producers where tour not too long/involved and wines are excellent. I'm sure we'll go by Riscal to look but not really our cup of tea. Baigorri sounds interesting but welcome any "can't miss" small wineries (as you can see above not going to have time for lunch at a winery).

Anyone have a favorite dinner spot in/near Laguardia? Much more interested in traditional / casual than formal tasting menus for dinner. Would love to do the traditional restaurant (Mama's) at Echaurran but just too far of a journey. Thanks
TJinSOMA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2016, 05:28 PM
  #19
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,199
"Anyone have a favorite dinner spot in/near Laguardia?"

Asked and answered upthread.
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2016, 08:52 PM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 216
Kja you really know how to make friends. I can read but thank you for the helpful pointer to the unthread. Perhaps someone new may like to comment versus you perusing every one and critiquing (Gehry architecture, etc.). While I'm glad you had a wonderful whirlwind trip, interested in someone's feedback who lingered in Laguardia for a few days and had the opportunity to try a few of the restaurants.
TJinSOMA is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:18 AM.