Those extraordinary titanium ribbons above are, of course, starchitect Frank Gehry’s trademark but, by strange coincidence, they also look a little like my brain feels after a big night out. This is particularly relevant as in the picture above they form part of the design of the fabulous Marques de Riscal in Spain. It is basically Sideways meets sybaritism, a luxurious spa hotel that snuggles into the eponymous, award-winning vineyard in the rolling hills of Rioja, about 90 minutes outside Bilbao. It makes a truly wonderful autumn break. Hey, it’s August, time to start thinking about the nights drawing in.
The wine here does encourage over-indulgence and the food is equally unforgettable, overseen by Michelin-starred Francis Paniego whose avant-garde meets traditional menu includes such novelties as olive-oil ice cream. You can tour cutting-edge wineries from architects such as Santiago Calatrava and Zaha Hadid, eat delicious tapas in the tatty bars of Vitoria (they still play Supertramp tracks, with no visible sense of irony) or just chillax in the dramatic, red-and-black spa, left, for particularly apposite treatments such as merlot wraps, crushed cabernet scubs and premier cru facials. Apparently, the polyphenols in the grape seeds leave your complexion radiant and youthful… if applied topically. Sadly, several glasses of those self-same polyphenols taken orally won’t result in anything even remotely so flattering. I know I’ve tried… many times.
Cox & Kings (020 7873 5000, coxandkings.co.uk) has three nights at the hotel from £785pp, B&B, and car hire.