After landing in Bilbao, which probably had one of the nicest views during a landing, Julie and I picked up the rental car and drove about 90 minutes through Basque Country to Hotel Marqués de Riscal in Elciego, Spain.
I found out about this hotel while doing research on Bilbao. Bilbao is home to the the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao that was designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry. Julie and I were interested in checking out the Guggenheim and then found that there was a hotel also designed by Gehry. Ultimately we decided to spend one night at the hotel in Elciego which was probably the most interesting and nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in.
Hotel Marqués de Riscal was designed as a 21st century château for one of the oldest wineries in the Rioja region, Vinos de los Herederos de Marqués de Riscal, that connects the historic winery with the modern architecture of Gehry. The hotel is wrapped in pink, gold and silver titanium representing the red wine, the mesh that surrounds the bottle of the Marqués de Riscal wine and then finally the actual bottle.
One of the other reasons we chose this hotel is that it is a Marriott property which would earn us points and give us a chance at an upgrade on a random week night stay. Well, we got the upgrade and ended up in the Gehry Suite Presidential Suite (video below) which was like having an apartment atop of a winery. The view looked out upon the village of Elciego, its vineyards, and the Cantabric Mountains.
Part of our stay included a tour of the winery grounds, including the production facility and cellars. Marqués de Riscal is one of the oldest wineries in the Rioja region of Spain. The winery was founded in 1858 by Guillermo Hurtado de Amézaga and has one of the most impressive consecutive collections of wine dating back to founding in the world.
Town of Laguardia
For our night in the area, we headed to the nearby town of Laguardia for a dinner reservation set a few weeks ahead of time for Restaurant Mayor de Migueloa. We got to the town early and walked around. Laguardia is what they call a walled town so the interior streets are closed to vehicle traffic. We had a drink outside of the Hospedería de los Parajes, just to the side of the Plaza Mayor.
After our drink we headed to our dinner reservation only to find out they were closed! Even though the hotel helped arrange the reservation and the restaurant website said it should’ve been open. So we walked around a bit more and settled on some tapas at Entre Viñas Y Olivos. Overall, we’re glad to have explored another town.
Laguardia was certainly cute and quaint and possibly the best Laguardia we’ve been to. (That’s a Laguardia Airport joke for those not familiar.) It had a cute square, Plaza Mayor, where there is an interesting pendulum clock that opens and three figures come out to dance to a traditional song, pictured below:
We eventually made it back to the hotel for a real dinner and drinks.
Run in Elciego
As I’ve done in other cities, I enjoyed a run around the area: