20 September 2020
Inside Le Domaine
A Retreat in Ribera del Duero
In the summer of 2020 I was living and working in Central Spain. I took the opportunity to get out and explore as much as possible. I’ve been planning journeys and experiences for our guests so that we can be ready when the door to the world opens again.
The adventure led me to Le Domaine, a luxury hotel converted from the former ruins of a monastery in the heart of the Ribera del Duero winelands. The joy of being able to travel again was overwhelming. When something is taken away, you pause to reassess what it really meant to you and I savoured and enjoyed every tiny detail that I may have taken for granted in the past.
I was in Ribera to find a venue for a really special Insider Journey with wine, gastronomy and pure relaxation at the core. I never imagined I would find a place that would exceed expectations on almost every level. This place is so calming and tranquil you never lose sight of what it must have been like for the monks gliding along cloisters and corridors lost in thought and inner reflection.
Every aspect of the hotel gazes out onto swathes of the estate’s vineyards. A short stroll through the gardens takes you to the banks of the Duero River that feeds this region’s abundance of grapes. I used the hotel’s off-road bikes to cycle along a shady track next to the river on a flat and easy going 40-minute loop. I didn’t have a chance to see the horses but riding can also be arranged as well as a private tour of the vineyards in a 4x4 (Le Domaine has one of the largest vineyards in the region so there is plenty of land to explore).
In the evening I dined in the candlelit quad watching the sky above turn from pastel hues of pinks and purples to a deep and infinite starlit night. The food was exceptional - traditional Castilian dishes served with elegance and accompanied by the estate's fantastic wine.
I left feeling revitalised. At no point did the experience feel sterile or awkward due to distancing and covid regulations the hotel had put in place. Quite the opposite, in fact. The team at Le Domaine are highly experienced and their approach to ensuring customers felt safe without losing the sense of freedom you crave on a holiday was a near perfect balance. It helps that monasteries are essentially designed for social distancing and keeping a natural airflow breezing through open courtyards so it never felt too enclosed.
I am itching to plan our next Insider Journey in Ribera del Duero and introduce guests to this fantastic wine region and some of the lesser-known people and places.