A weekend at Valdepalacios, Torrico
It was my birthday weekend and I was up to do a cool weekend trip. I mean I do celebrate life every day and do cool stuff on almost 52 weekends a year so it is hard to beat that but I was up to spend quality time with friends and due to the fact that I didn’t see Felix for a while, I knew: Madrid it was. Thanks to Swiss I scored a great deal a week before the weekend and went for it. Flying-in Friday evening to have a late party-like dinner in Salamanca to oversleep and take a red-eyed car ride to the countryside? Sounds like THE plan to you? Well turns out this was one of the most beautiful weekends I have had for weeks. Roughly 2 hours after leaving the apartment in Madrid, we reached the exit of the highway leading towards Portugal and after having checked the map, it was as close to Portugal as it was to Madrid - meaning another 2 hours’ drive. Being not too adventurous for the one night planned, we kept driving the stunning road towards Valdepalacios - a Relais & Chateaux property in the heart of... well the countryside of Spain. Having checked the website and pictures online, neither one of us had high expectations of this property - one could see they rarely do photo shootings or collaborations with online media. Just perfect for us to begin this new chapter of Valdepalacios.
Having talked about the location, it is time to indulge in the journey. We drove through the main gate and found what I only knew from Tuscany or Provence: a picture perfect countryside estate with a stunningly beautiful gardening architecture. We stopped the car next to the front desk and were happy to stretch ourselves after the drive. A young front desk attendant came across and was offering to help us with the luggage. From that moment on, we felt that this experience is going to be a good one. Of course, there is no guarantee but as I always keep saying, the most important and relevant touch point is the welcome and check-in. Once that is done right, chances are very low that the stay is going to end in a super bad way. We entered the pretty and slightly discreet lobby that reminded me more of a private Spanish mansion and was already holding a glass of freshly opened Cava in our hands while the IDs were taken to make a copy as usual in Spain. Not even a minute later we started our tour of the property which is always a huge like from my side. We passed the many living rooms where one can linger and read a book, have an afternoon tea or just indulge in the beauty and silence of that place.
The tour ended in our amazing room that was located just a bit below the outdoor pool. Generally, rooms are either in the main building, in the building around the main building or in the few houses in the garden. We were staying in latter one and absolutely loved it especially since it felt like a summer day with temperatures of more than 22 degrees Celsius (on 2 March!). Even though Valdepalacios does advertise their categories as Superior and Deluxe only without any suite, I would say that our Deluxe Room would definitely be called a Suite at any other hotel. With approximately 60 square meters, our room was super spacious and felt like the perfect weekend getaway. Although I was missing a personal welcome note, there were nice welcome amenities such as a glass of cava and cookies at check-in. Our room had a separate entrée with sideboard, then opening onto the main bedroom which consisted of a twin bedded canopy bed, writing desk, as well as a semi-separated living room with sofa and armchair, dining table with two chairs as well as a minibar. To all my surprise the minibar was complimentary and fully stocked with San Pellegrino and fancy still water from Spain
Continuing our tour through the room, we were ready to discover the bathroom which featured a global novelty to us: there were two toilets within the bathroom. Although we know the idea of a guest toilet next to the bedroom and a separate toilet in the master bathroom, however having two toilets within one bathroom was something new. Not that we didn’t love to have a private toilet each of us. Generally, the bathroom felt simply huge and was as big as some hotel rooms in Madrid. There were double vanities stocked with two sets of Molton Brown toiletries (missing the Conditioner), a bathtub with a small window overlooking the countryside, a separate walk-in shower with extremely good pressure and wooden floor plus another separate toilet with bidet at the end of the bathroom. Towels were of good quality as well however not replaced by housekeeping during turndown service.
After inspecting the room, we decided to see the outdoor pool for a bit of sunbathing. Considering the high temperatures, this idea was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t think of any better activity than relaxing on the pool after a long night of exploring the Madrilenian nightlife. While on one hand, I have to say that the pool was obviously too chilly to use in March, I found it amazing that they already filled the pool and it would have theoretically been possible to actually swim inside (if I wouldn’t have minded the 10 degrees’ Celsius alpine-lake-like temperature). We tried to order a coke on the pool which didn’t work that well but since we were in the mood for a light snack anyways we moved to the pretty dining tables just meters next to the sunbeds. From then on we were culinarily blown away. I went for a roast beef sandwich while Felix decided to take a classic club sandwich. In no way did I expect to eat the best sandwich in my life in a Spanish countryside hotel. Pouring a perfect coke with ice and lemon paired with that absolutely flawless weather was making this day as good as a day can be.
Right after sunset, we went back to the room to refresh and get ready for the aperitif. To be honest, although we might fall under Generation Y, there is no way that I won’t be dressing up when heading to a Michelin-starred restaurant. No matter if one or three stars, there is a secret dress code for dinner at any of this kind of restaurants. While a jacket may not be necessary anymore, long pants, a nice and tidy long-sleeved shirt is the minimum. Under any circumstance, you shall avoid t-shirts, shorts and blue jeans for dinner in this kind of restaurants – just in order to pair the ambiance and don’t ruin other people’s experiences. It may sound old-school but I think it is important to express this issue. Generally, Spanish people are very into gourmet dinners and do mostly dress the ambiance. I remember well (even though it was next door in Portugal) when Lukas and I were right in for our very first Two-Michelin starred lunch and we had no other choice than going inside the restaurant with shorts and polo. Thanks to the long table clothes for lunch, everyone could tell it was our first time in such a restaurant and I have to admit, we learned out of it.
Needless to say, you can find all the details about the dinner at Tierra in the restaurant review by Felix. We fell into bed and I had probably the best sleep of the year so far with a feeling of exactingness and pure happiness: the sun was shining and I was turning one year older. I mean who could blame the fact of getting older in such an amazing environment. Of course, we headed towards breakfast and were friendly welcomed by the same restaurant staff as the night before. Still, a bit with caution we greeted them kindly and they seemed to forgive our extensive wine consummation the night before HAHA. I liked the idea that the entire buffet is being served a la carte which was just the right way of doing things on that Sunday morning. I liked the freshly squeezed orange juice and their selection of ham and cheese. They even brought us Eggs Benedict which was prepared already, along with a kind of toast and tomato puree which was nice with a slice of Iberico ham.
After all, we were checking out and left for a detour via Torrico which turned out to be a real gem in the heart of Spain. Overall, Valdepalacios is a real flagship of Relais & Chateaux in Spain and feels like the perfect symbiosis of French countryside Maison with an excellent (!) cuisine, lovely grounds with a nice indoor and outdoor pool, friendly service and prices usual for a Relais & Chateaux, selling rooms for 350 euros all year round. For summer, the prices are absolutely great as you can enjoy a room in one of the buildings on the grounds and do not need to worry about rain plus the outdoor pool is a huge plus in the center of the property with a beautiful garden surrounding it.
Disclaimer: We were guests of Relais & Chateaux Hotel Valdepalacios for editorial purposes. Opinions are our own as usual and have not been influenced.