I stumbled upon this very unique little winery hotel a few years ago when searching for travel inspiration for a long bank holiday weekend. At the time, the hotel was still fairly new and lacking any reviews, my decision to book a room was entirely based on a couple of images I found online and the fact that the hotel was part of a well-known local winery. Eguren Ugarte was indeed founded in 1870 and is family-run in the sixth generation.
If you follow my blog, you will know I love wine travel and there are very few wineries that offer a similar opportunity in the Spanish La Rioja region.
It was a gamble the turned out wonderfully. So when returning to La Rioja earlier this year, there was no question I would pay another visit to Eguren Ugarte.
The hotel stands for the kind of luxury I treasure: Whilst it lacks all the shiny grand furnishings and styling of the notorious luxury brands (which I do fancy too), it is indeed one of those small, family-led, friendly and open destinations that offer a truly authentic experience that you will remember a long time after you’ve returned home.
The hotel and winery are located just outside of the little village of Pagano in Rioja-Alavesa, on the main road between Haro and Laguardia. However, the whole complex is built into a hillside in a way only a small part of it is visible from the road.
The rest is either hidden behind the rock, visible only from below the valley or in the case of the large wine cellar, directly carved into it.
Around the hotel, there is also a beautiful garden bordering the surrounding vineyards.
If you are wondering what’s the noise strolling around the two gorgeous ponds, there are lots of small frogs in around the water!
And everywhere you wander on the property you will find little signs that you are still on a wine estate.
The only 21 rooms and common facilities are built with huge attention to detail and the small overall surface occupied by the hotel.
Entering from street level, the reception, a little lounge and the hotels small restaurant are all nestled together in a very wine-led styling.
The lovely little lounge is the perfect place for some pre-dinner drinks to relax after a day out visiting the beautiful historic towns and other wineries of Rioja.
Most of the rooms are located below the entrance level and taking the panoramic elevator, you can get a glimpse of the wine cellar carved into the rock.
The rooms themselves feature a contemporary style, offering comfy beds, free wi-fi and a mini bar also free of charge.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the rooms are the incredible views over the rolling vineyards unfolding in the valley below the hotel and onto the distant mountain range.
Dinner is offered in the hotels small restaurant. It is composed of a set five course set tasting menu. As there is only the chef in the kitchen, there is little room for manoeuvre concerning the food offered. But you can be sure whatever is served will be locally sourced, reflecting a very authentic Riojan style.
In the morning, a breakfast buffet is stuffed with fresh bread and lots of delicious litte pastries, including a variety of the Spanish favourite ensaimadas, (a yeast-based cake that is fashioned into round, coiled shapes), fresh fruits, and a selection of delectable Spanish charcuterie.
In case you wonder about the wine bottle, yes this is still the breakfast buffet. Indeed, the region is known for a specific ‘Rioja’ breakfast: lots of local charcuterie and cheese accompanied by a large cup of steaming Spanish coffee with milk – and a generous dose of red wine!
Finally, do not miss a tour of the winery, which are taking place daily. The two thousand metres of wine cellars carved deep into the rock are quite impressive.
The cellar tour will end with a tasting of the winery’s outstanding wines in the little wine shop.
Hotel Eguren Ugarte
Carretera A-124 Km. 61, Páganos