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Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego 

1 Calle Torrea
Tel: 34 945 180 880
view web site ›'s insider take:

In the heart of the Rioja wine region (about an hour south of Bilbao) this 2006 Frank Gehry-designed hotel has titanium curves that echo those of Bilbao's Guggenheim. From the outside, the main structure, with its 15 irregularly shaped rooms, shimmers like a large present that's been wrapped in crinkly, shiny paper. Inside, the rooms are airy and light, with contrasting white-linen and blond-wood furnishings, and slanted windows with views of the surrounding vines. (There's also a second building, which contains 29 slightly larger, less quirky accommodations.) The Starwood chain seems to have pulled out all the stops for this place: Besides the rooftop lounge with its open fireplace, there's a restaurant helmed by talented chef Francis Paniego, serving traditional Rioja cuisine; the hotel also houses the swanky Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa, where you can be soaked and slathered in products containing wine. If consuming vino is more to your taste, that's an option, too, at the in-house wine and tapas bar. Guests are guaranteed a reservation for the 90-minute tour of the famed Marqués de Riscal winery, which would otherwise need to be booked months in advance.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:

After the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, superstar architect Frank Gehry's second most famous Spanish project is nestled in the wine-making Rioja region and is largely an exercise in style. To wit, the main hotel building is the one the great man signed off on, and though its red-, silver-, and gold-metal ribbon roof is stunning, most of the 43 guest rooms are actually in a bunkerlike spa annex built into a hill and reached by a glass-enclosed bridge. Though the large rooms' blond wood and white-wall interior appears simple at first glance, a sharp eye will clock the designer fittings—not just the bedside Gehry white canvas Cloud lamps but also B&B Italia brown leather sofas and Artemide lamps. The gadget factor gets high grades too, with cable Bang & Olufsen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and fully stocked Nespresso espresso machines. Local star chef Francis Paniego cooks up tasty Riojan dishes, and the young staff are eager to please. The Caudalie Spa is included among the 2007 Hot List Spas.

—2007 Hot List

When to go: May for great weather; September to enjoy the eve of the grape harvest.

Which room to book: If you want to stay in the main building, book Nos. 101–104 or 112, 114, or 115 for views of the village through cantilevered windows. For those who prefer to gaze on Gehry's design, book Nos. 116, 117, or 118 in the annex. 

Amenities: Bar/lounge, Pool, Spa

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