This modern gastrohotel in the idyllic mountain town of Ezcaray, just minutes from La Rioja’s best ski resort, is a stunning mountain retreat and culinary mecca. The elegant villa property is famous for its Two-Michelin Star restaurant housed inside as well as the long gastronomic tradition of the family that has run the hotel for generations. Chic rooms, a fireside bar, and designs that combine the contemporary with the timeless all create an impossibly romantic setting. The natural surroundings are tranquil and calm during the summer months and the town turns into a lively ski scene during the winter.
Ultramodern rooms are stylish and airy while lovely wood floors and trims evoke the mountain lodge atmosphere and creative lighting adds an extra artistic flair. The rooms have plenty of high-tech gadgetry, an absolutely amazing bed, and balconies lined with floral pots that overlook the old abbey and square out front.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The views from the front-facing rooms of the hotel are exceptional, but the toll from the bell-tower across the square packs a punch; late risers or those looking to siesta may want to get a room facing the other direction if they are light sleepers.
A creative wash area format is exposed to the rest of the room as part of the open layout. A separate bathroom houses handsome showers with rainforest shower-heads, a colorful display of toiletries, and artisan soaps. Robes and slippers come with all levels of room.
Upon entering the picturesque mountain inn, guests are welcomed by an inviting café bar and sleek lounge with fresh wood crackling in the fireplace. Though the lobby space is cozy, it’s a charming place to relax and the staff behind the reception counter is extraordinarily friendly.
On the second floor is a wood-decked solarium terrace with both outdoor and protected seating that makes for a wonderful hideaway to relax no matter what the season.
A small fitness center is located on the top floor of the hotel. All the essentials are here, with modern spin bikes, a treadmill, elliptical, and strength machine along with a nice set of free-weights.
Those who like to exercise in private should know that the all-glass doors of the fitness room face into the hallway with everything on display for passersby.
If the gastronómico in the title didn’t give it away, food is the star of the show here at Echaurren. The small lodge offers three different dining options for guests. El Portal de Echaurren, the two-star Michelin restaurant, is the centerpiece of the hotel. Here, world-famous chef Francis Paniego treats customers to a master class in the post-modern art of Basque gastronomy. The tasting menu is an out-of-this-world experience with such a familial sense of service in its intimate setting that it makes you feel like you are a part of the creation process itself.
For guests looking for something a little less experimental (or easier on the wallet), Echaurren Tradición is a traditional Riojan restaurant famous with locals across the region, featuring white tablecloths in a formal dining room with plenty of natural light. The restaurant has been running for generations and family-kept recipes fill the menu and prove that well-executed classics can provide some of the best-tasting meals around. Make sure to try the homemade croquettes here.
In the mornings, a made to order breakfast can be had on the upstairs solarium and terrace that looks out onto the old town below.
Couples will find the breakfast in bed option a romantic treat.
Adjacent to the reception area is a warm bar with wood floors, comfortable seating, a roaring fireplace, and wall designs that breathe hints of a Japanese mountainside lounge. There is also a splendid outdoor seating area out in front under the shaded arcade of the hotel for when weather permits.
Ezcaray is nestled way up in the Oja basin and a car is really the best way to get to here. Once arrived, the hotel is centrally located in the heart of the small ski town, so walking is an easy option for exploring the surroundings. Haro, the wine capital of La Rioja, is only a 30-minute drive away.
While the hotel restaurants should be the first stop for serious eaters, those looking to venture out of the hotel for some diversity will find no shortage of delicious eateries in the small town. Restaurante El Rincon Del Vino (2-minute walk) is a carnivore’s delight, serving up savory meat dishes and grilled regional vegetables in a classic Basque rural house.
Casa Masip (3-minute walk) is another fantastic option, situated on a quaint square in the old part of town with an outdoor terrace to enjoy dinner on in the summer months.
Ezcaray is pretty quiet in the off-season, but guests can find a fun and rowdy mountain town crowd moseying between bars during the winter months and summer weekends. Cafe-Pub Novelty (2-minute walk), besides having an awesome name, is an equally awesome place to have a drink. It’s a coffee shop by day and a busy drinking establishment by night with one of the later closing times in town. If cocktails sound more inviting, Troika Bar (3-minute walk) knows how to shake and stir and even has its own set of medieval armor on display.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Echaurren Hotel Gastronómico isn’t just for foodies – this marvelous little hotel delivers in style, comfort, and service with the absolute best location in Ezcaray. And if you are a foodie (we must admit, we are suckers for a good meal), then this is an absolute must while traveling through the La Rioja region. But whether coming for the gastronomical attractions or simply for an exceptional and romantic modern lodge experience in this popular mountain town, Echaurren delivers in spades.