Situated on the main square of the immaculately preserved medieval village of Laguardia, Hospederia de los Parajes is a 16th century palace turned sophisticated boutique hotel that makes for an enchanting home base to explore the surrounding Basque wine country. Ancient surroundings meet modern luxury in each of the individually designed rooms, and the hotel manages to pack in two excellent restaurants, a bar, wine cellars, and a spa into its limited space.
The hotel offers a number of packages that allow guests to combine their stay with other activities and amenities, ranging from a couple’s package all the way to a gold & wine program. The staff is also happy to work with you to create a personal package for your visit before you arrive.
Sleek and spacious rooms are designed with a regal elegance and feature antique furnishings, exposed stone, timber beams running across the ceiling, and wood floors that feel nice against the feet. All of the hotel’s 18 rooms are uniquely designed but our personal favorites are the superior rooms that come with their own inviting jacuzzis. All rooms come equipped with modern amenities including adjustable AC, plasma TV, free Wi-Fi, and minibar.
Children under 8 stay free.
The handsome bathrooms are airy and easy on the eyes with clean lines, polished stone, and rich marble. Rainforest showerheads and a pair of bathrobes come with every room, while some upgraded rooms also offer jacuzzi baths.
An eye-catching modern interior has been carved out of the ancient stone edifice, creating a sensational fusion of classic and contemporary. The reception area is cozy but beyond it is an atrium rising the entirety of the building with a lovely lounge area at its base with a stately atmosphere reminiscent of a museum exhibit with leather furniture to sink into.
Hidden within this unassuming hotel exterior is an exotic full service spa housed in the hotel cellars and surrounded by the original stone foundations. The cool electric lighting effectively juxtaposes the old-world surroundings to create a unique relaxation experience.
There are two restaurants in the hotel: Los Parajes and Las Duelas. The former is a fine dining establishment while the latter is a more traditional Rioja restaurant. They are both fantastic, with settings befitting of each of their atmospheres. If you like creative modern cuisine, Los Parajes is for you. Personally, we’re suckers for snacking and drinking out on the terrace, right on Mayor Plaza, an enchanting square that’s perfect for people watching and letting the mind wander.
Known as the caves, the basement of the 16th century palace is a captivating system of underground passageways that once acted as shelter during armed conflicts but later became the perfect environment to store the ever-growing collection of wines. Today, we get to reap the benefits of the caves; sharing a bottle of local winemaking perfection paired with a plate of local cheeses down here is a unique experience well worth the little bit of cold.
The hotel also houses a surprisingly sleek little bar adjacent to the reception area and surrounded by the regal décor that makes for the perfect cocktail setting later in the evening.
Laguardia is most easily reached by car, though there are some private bus services that run here nearby towns and cities. The hotel offers private parking nearby, just outside the village walls (thank god, because it is very limited otherwise) for a small fee. Once you pass under the marvelous exterior fortifications and into the village it’s a pedestrian-only paradise. Despite its beauty, Laguardia should ultimately be a home base for wine tours and explorations in the surrounding region of Rioja Alavesa. If you don’t have your own car or simply don’t want to drive (especially given all the wine begging to be consumed), there are plenty of tour services, shuttles, and private cars, which the hotel is more than happy to help organize.
Outside of the defensive walls down at the base of town is the local favorite, Restaurante Amalebia (5-minute walk), which focuses on creative gastronomy while offering breathtaking views of the surrounding region. For great pintxos, head to Gastro Bar Bella Vista (2-minute walk), built out of the Laguardia fortifications and offering terrace seating during the warmer months.
Wine lovers should be sure to visit Bodegas Ysios (5-minute drive). The main structure was designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and appears like rolling white waves against the ancient vineyards that surround it. Oh, and the wine is outstanding here too. In Laguardia, there are a number of fabulous wine bars right out front on Mayor Plaza, but those looking for something much more casual can stroll down the cobblestone alley to Irish Café Tavern (1-minute walk), which doesn’t quite nail the whole Irish Tavern thing (it actually feels much more like your typical Spanish bar), but we don’t hold it against them, the place is warm and friendly nonetheless and serves a good drink.
WHY WE LIKE IT
We love the surprise of finding such sophisticated and modern accommodations hiding behind the noble medieval exterior, not to mention the fantastic restaurants, soothing spa, and bodega caves. Hospederia de los Parajes is an exceptional basecamp for exploring wine country with a prime location in a village that feels like it was ripped straight out from the pages of a magical fairy-tale.