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Our new series from TPG Contributor Lori Zaino, “World’s Most Unusual Hotels,” features some of the craziest, most unique properties around the globe, perfect for adventurous travelers who are ready for a little something different. Here, she guides us through the Frank Gehry-designed Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel located in northern Spain’s wine region. (All photos are courtesy of the hotel.)
If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping in an avant-garde, glamorous hotel designed by architect Frank Gehry, the good news is you can — and even better, you can use points to do it! The Starwood Luxury Collection’s Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego is an incredible property located on a picturesque vineyard in northern Spain.
The hotel, which opened in 2006, is the perfect blend of modern design aesthetic — thanks to impressive pinkish and gold-toned titanium sheets that sweep across the outside of the hotel — with the quaint feel of a small Spanish wine village. The toned colors of the titanium sheets were actually inspired by Marques de Riscal wine bottles and are pink for the wine, gold for the specialty mesh that encases the bottles and silver for the foil that goes around the cork.
If you’re heading to this particular part of Spain — and to this hotel — to drink wine, you’ve definitely come to the right place. Besides offering a wine bar, rooftop lounge and a cozy library complete with a fireplace, the hotel is connected to the Marqués de Riscal Winery, which dates back to 1858.
Take a break to tour the winery and its cellars, pick up a souvenir at the wine shop and learn a little bit about the process at the onsite Museum of Viticulture. The Michelin-starred Restaurant Marqués de Riscal features regional Basque cuisine, while Bistro 1860 offers a less formal dining option great for light bites.
The hotel’s location in the middle of Spain’s legendary Rioja wine region means there’s plenty of wine tourism going on here, so check out the TPG Rioja Wine Guide if you plan on visiting.
All 43 rooms of the hotel are different, with each boasting its own shape, design and view. The two hotel room wings are connected by a glass footbridge and each room features a Bang & Olufsen television, marble bathrooms, maple wood furniture, leather accents and special Gehry-designed works of art like cloud lamps.
There are also sleek design touches from both Alvar Aalto and Christian Werner. The most luxurious room, the Gehry Suite, features a kitchenette with a Nespresso coffee maker and Porsche-designed electric kettle as well as a separate living room area and of course, the best views.
The onsite Spa Vinothérapie Caudalie Marqués de Riscal offers plenty of wine-themed treatments. The Crushed Cabernet Scrub, followed by the Merlot body wrap and the Wine Maker’s massage can surely cure any jet lag you’re still experiencing. Treat yourself to a nice soak in one of the giant barrel bathtubs for the ultimate in relaxation. The Spa also offers an indoor pool, jacuzzi and steam room. For active travelers, there’s a 24-hour fitness center you can visit as well as plenty of jogging and walking paths throughout the property and its surrounding vineyards.
Room rates at this spectacular Category 6 property start at about $384 or 20,000 Starpoints per night in May. You can also earn an additional two points per dollar spent at Starwood properties by paying for your stay with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.
The town of Elciego is located just a 25-minute drive from Basque city Logroño and about 3.5-hours from Madrid. Your best bet is to fly into Madrid, rent a car and drive up to Elciego. There are Renfe trains and Alsa buses that run between Madrid and Logroño as well and you can always arrange a taxi to get from Logroño to Elciego.
There are a number of options for getting from North America to Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD):
American Airlines offers nonstop flights from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK) and Philadelphia (PHL). You’ll need 60,000 American AAdvantage miles to fly round-trip in economy, 115,000 to fly round-trip in business or 170,000 to fly round-trip in first.
Delta flies nonstop to MAD from New York (JFK) and Atlanta (ATL), with round-trip redemptions typically available starting at 85,000 Delta SkyMiles (economy) or 295,000 (business).
United offers nonstop flights to MAD from Newark (EWR), requiring the following MileagePlus redemptions for a round-trip ticket: 60,000 (economy), 115,000 (business) or 160,000 (first).
A Final Tip
Credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Citi Prestige don’t charge foreign transaction fees, making them ideal to use on trips to foreign countries like Spain. For more fee-free credit card options, check out this post.
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