Priorat Winery Hotels, Resorts, Boutique B&Bs, and General Accommodation Planning Tips
Written by Jordi Ustrell. Jordi lives and works in Priorat, Catalonia, Spain. He hosts wine tours at Celler Devinssi winery and also guides bespoke wine tours around DOQ Priorat and DO Montsant. He holds a Master in Tourism Management and PhD in Business Administration, he occasionally delivers university lectures, mostly in the Tourism and Marketing areas.
Not a long time ago, I received a tour request where the client asked me to help them find accommodation for their wine escape to Priorat. Specifically, they wanted a hotel with a swimming pool. It was then that I realized there aren’t so many options in this region. Why is this the case?
According to the Köppen climate zone map, Priorat is split between the Csa (hot-summer Mediterranean) and Bsk (cold semi-arid) areas, something similar to LA or Pasadena. Winters can be somewhat rainy, and it may even occasionally snow. However, the timespan from mid-spring to early autumn usually sees very little rain. The perfect setting for making some great wines.
As a traveler, you might wonder why you should care… And here’s my answer. Whether global warming is taking place or not, Priorat has recently experienced some years of prolonged drought (try to remember, for example, such Priorat wine vintages including 2011, 2012, 2016 or 2017). This situation is of particular concern because Priorat’s central creek – Siurana – is managed from outside the county, and an important share of its water is diverted to supply the densely populated areas closer to the Mediterranean coast (Californians know what I’m talking about). The county council is currently working with higher-level authorities to update this model and keep more water in Priorat, but we’ll see.
How To Choose a Hotel During Your Priorat Wine Tour
In the meantime, many hotels and rural cottages stick to water-saving policies and just have showers, not even bathtubs. However, there are some places where to stay where you can have a refreshing dip, and much more. Small hotels like Mas Figueres or La Siuranella have pools. An exciting example is Mas Ardèvol, a small yet famous rural house, which has a self-filtering pond.
If you’re more into wine than water, then your options expand exponentially. It’s important to consider other factors, such as price, type of accommodation (hotel, rural house or apartment) and most importantly, location.
As I mentioned in my previous guide to exploring Priorat, the region is a bit complex logistically because its stunning scenery is… mountainous! Most two-way roads are twisted and as wide as a lane on a Texas freeway. While you’ll certainly enjoy the ride, it is slow-paced driving.
So, when you plan a Priorat wine tour, I recommend first thinking about the logistics of how you’re going to get from your hotel to wine tastings, and then plan around that. Some wineries already have lodging on-site (like Clos Figueras) or are located just around the corner from hotels (like Celler Devinssi whom I work for).
Hotels like Hostal Sport or Lotus are located in Falset (Priorat’s capital), but there aren’t many wineries to visit within walking distance of this area: for example, Agrícola Falset-Marçà. Other places to stay are set amidst some very beautiful scenery, e.g. Mas Trucafort, Mas Ardèvol and Mas Figueres.
My point is that you’re very likely going to have to drive around or book a taxi in Priorat because of your hotel’s location. If you’re okay with driving slowly and carefully for some 20 minutes while enjoying windy roads and spectacular landscapes of vineyards and mountains, then this won’t be a problem for you. Otherwise, plan thoughtfully so that you can minimize your car usage or enlist a local guide’s help in planning and getting around.
Dining & Lodging in Priorat
A further feature to take into account is how to arrange your meals in Priorat. Some hotels and rural houses only offer bed and breakfast options, others have full-blown restaurants.
When To Visit Priorat
My final piece of advice focuses on choosing dates to stay in Priorat. Weekend and special event dates (e.g. the Falset Wine Fair) are typically sold out. You’ll either have to book well ahead if you want a weekend stay in Priorat or choose to stay on weekdays.
Weekdays are more advantageous because there are more wineries available for visits, even during the grape harvest time. When scheduling a wine tour for my clients, my most common struggle is to find open wineries on a Sunday afternoon or evening – there are very few options and they aren’t necessarily close to hotels. Plus, more restaurants are open on weekdays, including dinner.
Planning your Priorat wine experience at some point between November and March would also be ideal because Priorat isn’t as busy during this time. Most hotels and quite a few restaurants are open, and winter is just another name for local autumn morphing into springtime.
Campsites for Caravan Winetravelers
This option is particularly relevant for European van travelers visiting Priorat. Officially, Priorat has three campsites: one is in Ulldemolins, another one is in Siurana (these two are probably more alluring to nature lovers). The third one is much closer to the wineries: just outside the village of Poboleda, which has quite a few cute places to taste and purchase local wine.
Hotels Hosting Wine Events
Some Priorat hotels are venues for wine events, particularly during the warm part of the year. Just off the top of my head, there are two regular events to consider. First, “VIDENIT” (“the night wine” in Catalan), a vibrant Montsant and Priorat wine tasting taking place in the spacious garden around the Mas Figueres hotel. It takes place in July, so make sure you book a room just there or somewhere in the neighborhood.
Another prominent wine tasting event is “Tast amb Llops” (“tasting with wolves” in Catalan) held annually during early May by the Cal Llop boutique hotel in Gratallops. The event’s maximum capacity is just 250 persons and it’s part of the Falset Wine Fair agenda, so it’s often sold out months ahead. “Tast amb Llops” only features DOQ Priorat wines officially classified as Gratallops village wine (“vi de la vila de Gratallops”) plus a couple of guest wineries from around the world. Cal Llop is a benchmark for quality wine travel experiences here in Priorat and Catalonia in general. A few months ago, they received the Catalan Government’s Tourism Award for being an outstanding wine tourism hotel.
I’ve been writing this post in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown here in Priorat. Once the pandemic is over and things look up a bit, I hope to host you here. And as I said above, save water and drink Priorat wine! Cheers!