24 Hours at MiaClara Relais - Alba, Piedmont
Nestled on one of Alba’s surrounding hills, MiaClara Relais is one of the lastest additions when it comes to luxury hotels. Situated on the grounds of the Pietro Rinaldi estate, a well established winery which exports all over the world including Canada and Southeast Asia, this lovely Relais can only be found by chance. It is actually one of the places I am constantly looking for: places that offer an incredible value for money, especially with a very fine attention to details and in best case the hardware of a five star hotel for the price of a four star property. MiaClara is one of these candidates, always been on my bucket list for staying in the Piedmont. While I wasn’t sure about the location - I prefer to stay in the Barolo area rather than Barbaresco - turns out it was a great way to discover new corners of the place to be in fall aka Langhe region. You guess right, the reason for our stay was nothing less than the world famous White Truffle Fair in Alba - the gastronomic capital of (let’s put it Northern) Italy.
Famous not just for the white gold, but also for years-old Barolos & Grappas, the world’s best hazelnuts, stunning autumn sceneries and fresh Tajarin or Angnelotti. Every time I exit the highway in Asti and further driver the road towards Alba, something inside me releases a special feeling. I have no idea whether this happens due to the many many childhood memories (having being a six-year-old I gave the Tajarin con Tartufo Bianco a pass for good Tagliatelle con Ragu or Pommodoro) or if it just happens due to the magic taking place with sleepy castles on literally every hilltop. I did several approaches for a Piedmont holiday already - from lush one-night-stays to sumptuous three night stays, however this time was special thanks to my colleague Lukas joining me. A few days in Milano before to groove into the extended weekend the right way. Once we arrived on Thursday around noon, we visited some of the most remarkable wineries before checking-in at the lovely MiaClara Relais. Being familiar to the street situation in and around Langhe already, it didn’t take us longer than expected and around 7pm we pulled up at the main gate where we had to ring a bell.
No one else than the owner himself Paolo showed up once we opened the doors. A simple “Welcome” made us feel we just came back to a friend of our parents who hosted us over the weekend. No further hassle and we were standing inside our beautifully renovated Suite that really was something special for this area (where upscale hotels reached sky-high prices and most mid-range hotel don’t look sexy at all). A lovely entree with a spacious wardrobe were the first impressions until we walked into the main area where there were two armchairs, a coffee table with a coffee machine by Illy, a writing desk with a bottle of wine (upon a charge of 21 euros) as well as the huge double bed that was one of the most comfortable ones I have experienced in the Piedmont. A bottle of water was also provided which was a lovely touch considering the nearest supermarket is quite far away and might probably be closed. Generally I think hotels in the Piedmont should provide a few bottles of water as one can get thirsty during the night easily- especially after having had a glass too much, keep in mind that Barolos and Barbarescos can make addictive.
The major highlight of the room however was the stunning free standing bath tub that made the center of the bathroom. Next to the single vanity desk there was a walk-in shower, plenty of daylight thanks to two windows, a table with nicely smelling toiletries by Prija plus a Marshall music box to connect with any device via AUX or Bluetooth, as well as a separated toilet with bidet. The towels were comfy too and I absolutely loved the bath tub - unfortunately our schedule was extremely tight and we weren’t able to make use of it. After having refreshed ourselves we were invited to join Paolo and his wife Monica for a glass of wine. We went down ready for dinner and were warmly welcomed by the owners who have prepared a small wine tasting of the Azienda Pietro Rinaldi. Even though we have tried some of the best wineries in the area, both of us were pleasantly surprised of the wines. Lukas loved the Barolo while I was absolutely into the Barbera, both were extremely tasty and worth taking home. Anyhow we missed the opportunity to buy a few boxes, however the car was exploding on all sites anyways thanks to a bit of shopping finest Italian bed linen near Monza.
While we were sitting there with Paolo, Monica has prepared a small aperitivo plate with cold cuts and the best cheese I have ever had. Both of them are actually the perfect host and we couldn’t experience their passion about MiaClara any better. They told us that they appreciate to connect with their guests and let conversations happen. It is really a huge take-away for my future path and especially when realising my own hotel one day. This personal touch is what it is all about. We couldn’t have gotten this when we would have paid 500 euros at the nearby five star properties and even though they are great in their way, I was happy that this time I decided to stay at this hidden gem. Obviously they gave us an amazing restaurant recommendation (Campamac in Barbaresco) and once we came back we were surprised by three chocolates waiting next to the bed.
A short but heavenly sleep after (we had a though schedule), it was time to explore breakfast. Monica was back in the kitchen and prepared everything. Once we had a seat on one of the three tables, she brought us two excellent cappuccinos and we had a first glimpse onto the buffet. Again, I always say that the quality of a breakfast is not rated by the size but the quality. The buffet was on the small size (though for Italy it was actually on the bigger side again haha), however what Monica offered was just on par in terms of quality. The lovely presented yoghurts with freshest raspberries, the plush brioches or the amazing cold cuts and this cheese - wow, I still dream of that perfect breakfast. It’s actually the perfect size rather than being left entirely full and feel tired - we easily could finish the risotto with white Alba truffle for lunch. Did I mention that the mini Baguettes were part of the best bread I have eaten in Italy.
Once we were ready to check out, we had the chance to meet Paolo again who said good bye to us. All in all it was a flawless stay and considering the price of 200 euros per night, MiaClara Relais is the absolutely perfect hotel for everyone that wants to spend some quality time in the Piedmont without needing the facilities of a five star hotel (eg spa or Michelin restaurant) but still having the luxuries a demanding luxury traveler needs these days. Remember, you’re in the Piedmont to disconnect and meet up with wine makers, indulge in best truffle spaghetti while sipping the best wines in the world after all.
We were guests of the MiaClara Relais and Azienda Agricola Pietro Rinaldi, however all above written expresses our own opinion and has not been influenced.