I had a superb blast in Europe – I spent my way road-tripping around Spain and I had the grand luxury of staying at Hotel Marques De Riscal for 3 amazing nights and it was pretty much more than what I could have imagined. Part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, The Hotel Marques de Riscal, is located in the heart of the Rioja wine region (hence Elciego’s nickname City of Wine). Designed by genius architect Frank Gehry, this gem is both avant-garde and yet utterly relaxing at the same time. The rooms are located across from the beautiful sculptural masterpiece and you cross it with the magnificent Pasarela Corridor (a bridge that should be a landmark on its own). We had a suite that was just located very conveniently below the award-winning Caudalie Spa (Conde Nast Traveler had recently named it one of the best spas in the world – more on that later). It overlooked said avant-garde masterpiece and waking up every morning to the sun shining on the edges and creases of this man-made splendor (the rays of the sun created color weaves that I could spend the whole day staring at). The bathroom was generously spaced and stocked with beautiful Caudalie products. Ask for extra down pillows and a good night’s sleep is guaranteed.
Vinothérapie® SPA Caudalie Marqués de Riscal
I knew I couldn’t stay at the Marques de Riscal without checking out the spa. And it was great timing because the harsh winter air had both dried out my skin and clogged my pores at the same time. My first trip to the spa was for the Caudalie VinoPure Facial; using pure clays and light extractions, this facial cleared my clogged pores and left my skin feeling clean and refreshed. They have great facilities that you can use before your treatment so give yourself a good hour to use the therapy pool and the steam room before your treatment.
The next day, I returned to the spa for a 3-hour treat. Their 100% Grape Ritual included a full body scrub where they used warm oil, sugar and Merlot grapes to gently but surely exfoliate your entire body and the result is skin that is toned and firm. The Pulp Friction Massage followed next and like its name suggests, pulp from fresh grapes was used to create gentle friction that further exfoliated and it felt so luxurious to have fresh grapes be squeezed all over your body. What they do next is wrap you and warm the mixture up so that it further sinks in. It was utterly blissful. I had the VinoPerfect Facial next and like its name suggests, it helps restore radiance to dull skin and an enzymatic peel was applied to further achieve the goal of a glowing complexion. 3 hours flew by and I couldn’t believe how warm and relaxed I felt. –
Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal
The next thing you have to do while you’re at Hotel Marques de Riscal is visit their historical winery. Built in 1860 and full of history that was told to me via a private tour, the coolest part of it all had to be the super cellar (called Bottleria) where they stored their most precious bottles. The cellar contains 6 bottles from 1862 still drinkable and I can only imagine how exquisite those bottles are. Their harvest months are in Sept to Oct and if you come round then, you can pick grapes on the vineyard and each year they produce 3.6 million bottles. I had a tasting at the end of the tour and their signature Marqués de Riscal Rueda Verdejo white wine (D.O. Rueda) and Marqués de Riscal Reserva red wine (D.O. Ca. Rioja), was so good that I bought more than a bunch back home with me.
The Restaurante Marques de Riscal
One of the best things about the Hotel Marques de Riscal is that you really don’t have to leave the hotel if you don’t want to. They have two amazing restaurants that can feed you day and night so you’re pretty much set. Their Restaurante Marques de Riscal is a one-Michelin star restaurant and I highly recommend their tasting menu along with the wine pairing so you get a complete introduction to the beautiful creative fusion of the traditional family-based Echaurren cuisine and futuristic techniques and recipes. Only the freshest ingredients are used here. It was one of the best meals of my entire trip.