The Hacienda Colomé (by Swiss entrepreneur Donald M. Hess) is not only worth a visit for its wines, but for the special place. The next small village is about 45 minutes away by car. From Salta you can do the zigzagging roads by going over the top of a pass (Cuesta del Obispo) and “Parque Nacional de los Cardones” about 5 to 6 hours, depending on road conditions (partially dirt roads). This means that one does not go there spontaneously for a winetasting. For a long time we had the idea to include the Bodega Colomé on our next trip to Argentina because we know friends that stayed there. Since the hotel has only 9 rooms, this was the first thing we booked for our trip and planned everything else including flights only afterwards. It was really worth it. It is a place with a certain magic. You can relax, get some peace and quiet, do walks and besides; taste the best wines of the region. We spent New Year’s Eve at the bodega and had a really wonderful evening with people from France, Brazil, Switzerland and Argentina. Bodega Colomé grows their own fruits, vegetables and herbs in their garden and cooks only regional and seasonal meals. The staff conjured up a delicious multi-course menu for the guests that evening, including wine pairing. At 12 o’clock we all toasted to the new year on the terrace under the roof of stars and there was – still on top – a huge dessert buffet. Those who make it to Colomé should stay at least two or three days, as the James Tyrell Art Museum is also very worth seeing.
The hotel and bodega Gimenez Riili is located in the middle of the emerging new wine region “Valle de Uco” near Mendoza. The hotel has only eight rooms but they are already in the process of being extended. The rooms are very nice and modern furnished. The food is excellent and is cooked on an open fire in the middle of the restaurant. You can also try their own wines with the meal.
The hotel is home to people and some animals like guinea pigs, dogs, tarantulas (only one luckily ;-)) and toads that are running around freely. So you should not be afraid of contact with animals.
This hotel and restaurant is really something unique, a hidden gem. It is not at all on the way and does not always guarantee electricity – especially after 11pm. But in reward, one gets a wonderful fauna and flora right in front of the door. Unspoiled nature wherever you look. After four days on the Peninsula Valdes I thought I had seen all penguins, sea lions and ostriches, but Bahia Bustamante offers all this too, but not as an observer from far away, you are right in the middle of it. It is difficult to describe the place, you have to see, feel and experience it on your own. The hotel should be booked 6-9 months in advance and you should definitely book the cabins WITH dinner. The food is incredibly good and this at the end of the world and with a view of the vines (yes really vines in Patagonia) and the sea behind. Of course you shouldn’t be picky about what you eat, because there is simply one menu every evening, but if you like local food and wine, you are in good hands.
Feusisberg – Mauri (Maurizio Brocca, 20 years owner of former La Rocca in Zurich) renovated and reopened the location in the heart of Feusisberg just recently in May.
When you enter the restaurant, you feel, like in someone’s home…this someone must have Italian roots. It is Mauri’s home; as he dreamed it to be and how he likes to live he told us. A lot of wood (they made the floor and a lot of other interior designs themselves). A lot of pictures and photographs that remind one of Italy. A highlight for all meat lovers is the wood fire barbecue in the center of the restaurant and a big fridge where the different kind of meat are presented.
My friend and I had the “tavolata” (3 course surprise menu served on platters…like at mamma’s table in the older times) and it was just fantastic (but a LOT of good food to be honest). The homemade pasta is still watering my mouth when I think back.
The guys had a giant size Tomahawk steak which was just wonderful and grilled on the charcoal as ordered.
On the terrace a fumoir is planned and in the backyard opens a garden restaurant soon. On street level there will soon also open an Osteria (simple Italian dishes), but at the moment planned for smaller events of about 50 people.
The official opening is still to come, but I am already looking forward going again!
Shuzenji (between Kyoto and Tokyo) – When in Japan, a visit of a ryokan (Japanese inn) is a must do!
We selected this beautiful place and enjoyed every minute of it. The rooms are in traditional Japanese style with tatami mats in the whole hotel, so you are only allowed to walk in socks or bare feet. As soon as you arrive at the hotel you get rid of your shoes anyway and you receive a beautiful kimono (yukata) to wear throughout your stay…so you can dive into this other world and let yourself get indulged.
During all your stay you can take a bath in the natural hot springs inside and outside (open air). If you feel too hot you can also feed the koi fish (yes, they are always hungry!) in the pond or just relax and enjoy the calming atmosphere.
Dinner is served at any time you want in your room. This time we were also sitting on the floor at a low table, but luckily for us and our bones with a big cushion :-). This food was again beautifully prepared and decorated in the theme of autumn. For the second time we tasted fugu fish…and luckily are still alive.
After dinner the staff prepares your futon beds at the very same place in your room. In the morning you can choose between continental breakfast and Japanese breakfast…after a little discussion I agreed to the Japanese breakfast. I am really NOT fussy at all with food and I bravely ate the grilled barracuda, eggplant, miso soup and rice but when I opened the mussels soup bowl I had to give in 😉
The food was great as expected. Some dishes were familiar but some small surprises tickled and picked on our tongues….I want to leave the surprise a surprise for the ones who still plan to go so you have to find out yourselves.
Chiavenna – We spent a weekend in the mountains in Italy near the Swiss border. We learned from these stunning hay lofts from a friend. He had bought the land from the local farmers who historically used them as shelter for their goats when they brought the herds up from the valley to a higher altitude in summer. The new owner of the hay lofts rebuilt the tables into to these spectacular lofts.
You should not be afraid of heights and narrow winding streets as the journey to reach the haylofts is quite an adventure. From Switzerland you take the route over Splugen pass….in itself a wonderful and breathtaking area.
You can choose from three different hay lofts, some with a romantic view into the forest or and others overseeing the valley. All of the lofts feature panoramic windows which is unique for this type of rustico buildings which usually come with very small windows.
There is even a spa house, which again comes with panorama window and phenomenal view. Jacuzzi and sauna are heated with wood which means that you need to let the staff know a few hours in advance if you’re planning to take a hot bath….but the unique architecture of the calidarium built all from local natural material makes this a absolutely unforgettable experience.
Each hay loft features its own kitchen so that you can cook your own meals or you can ask for catering service. There is obviously no central heating but the fire places do an awesome job in making you feel cosy and warm. If you are looking for some peace, pure nature and relaxation this place could not be more perfect.
Barcelona – We found this cosy and simple bed and breakfast in Barcelona most adorable. Inhabitants are also 2 or 3 cats and probably a mouse named “Perez” ;-). They have double, single and family rooms for a really fair price.
The hostal is some 30 minutes to walk (by the seaside) or 5 mins by taxi from the city centre.
Breakfast (small but nice buffet) is served on the patio terrace and you can order almost everything for breakfast you wish for a small extra money.
Towels and umbrellas for the beach can be rented for free. The area has its own smaller version of the Rambla and is really nice to do a little walk.