In a small Spanish village in the wine-growing area La Rioja, one building stands out.
Hotel Marques de Riscal is a Starwood hotel designed in 2006 by Frank O. Gehry, well known to Spaniards and architecture students for his work on Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.
Our friends took us to Elciego for an excellent meal in Restaurante La Cueva (more about this in a later post), but the hotel was just around the corner. We couldn’t miss it. Nobody could.
At first glance from a distance it looks like the ruins of a fire – a twisted mass of coloured metal sheeting draped over dark recessed windows.
Even before Mr Gehry came to town, Elciego welcomed knowledgeable tourists, who came to taste the wine at its numerous bodegas.
Some wine-lovers may have even made it up the hill to the ancient church.
Some of the bodegas around have installed smart modern tasting rooms and restaurants, but there is nothing in town that remotely resembles Mr Gehry’s structure.
We thought at first we didn’t like it. We know Mr Gehry is a celebrity architect who recently used his iPhone to design a hat for Lady Gaga – how much more celebrity can you get? Maybe had an off day when he planned this one.
But when we came closer (which took a little fast talking to a security guard and a bit of fast sneaking through the wine-tasting area) we found things we liked about it.
What do you think?
Oh, and if you’d like to stay in the Hotel Marques, it will cost you from 440-790 euros a night. Looking at it from the outside is free.