One day, after visiting the Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture, Ruiz and his family took a walk around the nearby medieval village of Briones. It occurred to him that this medieval village lacked a boutique hotel that matched the beauty of the town.
A loving restoration and elegant decoration
They saw and purchased a dilapidated sixteenth-century manor house, listed for its historical value. Renovation and decoration took six years of overcoming endless administrative paperwork to comply with the demands of Spanish Protection of Historical Patrimony requirements. Ruiz hired Riojan architect Ignacio Quemada and the interior design firm Isabel López Villalta & Asociados to manage renovation and decoration. Finally, in 2022 the family opened the hotel.
For the faithful restoration of the 16th century building and the elegant decoration of the building’s interior, the Santa María Briones Hotel received a 2023 Best Of Wine Tourism award from the Great Wine Capitals Global Network in the Accommodation category.
The outside of the hotel preserves the original sixteenth century structure while the décor inside meets the highest standards of modern luxury. In an article in Fuera de Serie, the luxury supplement of Spain’s economic and finance daily Expansión, a guest remarked that “this hotel is definitely better than staying at home”.
Amenities to make for a perfect stay
The hotel has 16 rooms: Standard, Superior, Deluxe, Junior Suite and the Berones Suite. The rooms vary in size from 30m2 for the first three types of rooms, while the Junior Suite and Berones Suite are 40m2 and 45 m2 respectively. They are decorated with a blend of stone and dark wood with luxury amenities.
The hotel features a small gym, and a private parking area with a Tesla charger. Certain parts of the original building have been restored, such as the stone lagar where grapes used to be trodden by foot, now a private dining room at the Allegar restaurant, and the aljibe, or stone water cistern that has become a favorite spot for guests to read or simply relax.
Fine Dining created by a Seasoned Chef
The Allegar restaurant, a name inspired by the Riojan expression for cleaning one’s plate with a piece of bread, is run by chef Juan Cuesta, a Riojan who has trained and worked with well-known Spanish chefs Francis Paniego (El Portal del Echaurren in Ezcaray and Marqués de Riscal), Manuel de la Osa (Las Rejas in Las Pedroñeras, Cuenca), and Martín Berasategui in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
Allegar features several menus. The Seasonal Menu is Chef Cuesta’s interpretation of classic Riojan dishes, The Evening menu is a small selection of the favorite dishes from the restaurant.
There are two tasting menus. The Allegar Tasting Experience features five appetizers and ten small plates including dessert while the Singular Experience has two appetizers and six small main courses including dessert.
The hotel also has a wine bar highlighting Rioja along with bottles from other Spanish regions.
A concierge service is available to help visitors acquaint themselves with the Rioja region including assistance in making appointments at wineries.
The Hotel Santa María Briones Hotel is a spectacular addition to the constellation of boutique hotels in the Rioja region, an oasis for wine tourists who wish to spend time visiting Rioja wineries and enjoy fine dining.
Calle Concepción, 37.
26330 Briones, La Rioja, Spain.
T: (+34) 941 99 15 99
Text by Tom Perry, Inside Rioja
Featured photo: Santa María Briones Hotel.
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