Daringly modernist Euro-Argentinean resort Entre Cielos – dreamt up by a group of Swiss friends – clearly takes pride in its vast vineyards. Malbec tastings are frequent, rooms are named after wine grades, and dedicated oenophiles can even bathe in the robust red down in the cool, concrete spa. But, the hotel’s no one-drink pony – Katharina Restaurant’s haute cuisine and ravishing rural surroundings quench all appetites, and the Vineyard Loft is the most covetable cocoon we’ve laid eyes on yet.
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A tasting of three of the hotel's own-label Marantal wines; SilverSmiths and GoldSmiths also get a hammam session each
Sixteen, including five suites and the Vineyard Loft.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £269.72 ($353).
A buffet breakfast is included in the room rate. The Limited Edition, Gran Reserva and Grand Cru suites include a session in the hammam, cocktail and a sweet treat from the restaurant. An additional 30-minute massage is included for Grand Cru stays.
Hop in the hotel’s vintage car for a chauffeured trip to wineries and historic vineyards close by. Dedicated drinkers can put their own stamp on a future vintage by designing their own wine too, and the hotel’s label, Marantal, is worth tasting during your stay.
At the hotel
Spa and hammam, solarium, obstacle course, vineyard, snack bar, gardens, terrace, library, concierge, iPads loaded with newspapers, parking, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV and DVD player, Bose iPod dock, minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, kettle and a selection of teas, free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
We’re punch-drunk in love with the Vineyard Loft. This modern pseudo-treehouse is a stilted residence set aside from the main building. It offers postcard-perfect views all around – including a skylight for stargazing – and utter seclusion, so a hot-tub soak à deux on the terrace is blush-free. Industrially styled yet warm Junior Suites are our second pick, with wooden headboards hewn from the original winery’s timbers.
The lengthy unheated pool stretches out alongside trim gardens, with resplendent views of the emerald, ochre and slate-coloured scenery beyond. Parasol-shaded cream sunloungers and some canopied cabanas sit on the concrete deck.
Rendered in minimalist concrete and slate, the spa is a meditative space for <i>rhassoul</i> slathering. There’s a small indoor pool, and a hammam (the only one of its kind in Argentina) with a steam room, Oriental baths and foam massages, and a <i>camekan</i> (relaxation room). The 12 treatment rooms offer wine baths, grape-seed body scrubs, massages, facials and a range of Eastern-inspired therapies, and finishing touches are applied in a small beauty parlour. The hotel can arrange personal trainers, on request, and frequent pilates, yoga and fitness classes are held. A six-step obstacle course will get gym bunnies' adrenalin pumping.
If you own a festival-muddied pair of Converse, they’re equally useful for tramping through vines.
Guests with mobility issues can stay in the ground-floor Reserva Junior Suite, which has a specially adapted bathroom. The stairs to the Vineyard Loft may not be suitable for some guests.
Over-12s are welcome, but underage guests may feel a little left out of the Malbec-centric activities here.
Grab a terrace table – a dash of dramatic scenery turns any meal into a Gabriel Garcia Márquez-penned moment.
Relaxed rustic chic, as seen through the lens of a Vogue snapper.
The downplayed design of Katharina Restaurant – a purple and gray palette, modern chandeliers and curvy ceiling reliefs – defers to the views (through floor-to-ceiling windows) and elegant haute cuisine. Refined regional dishes include Mendocinean baby-goat ravioli with thyme, and fall-apart-tender lamb, or there’s a decadent four-course tasting menu with finely matched libations. The wine list is, naturally, lengthy and impeccably picked.
The bar is part of the restaurant, but drinks can be taken on the terrace, by the pool or in the hotel’s common areas. Order a glass of the hotel’s own Marantal Malbec, or scan the list of 100-plus premium wines that are just a popped cork away.
Breakfast runs from 8am to 11am, lunch from 12.30pm to 3pm, and dinner from 8.30pm to 11pm.
Staff can be summoned to your door bearing tapas platters.
The hotel is in a verdant and vine-covered suburb, less than 30 minutes by car from Mendoza, close to small, winery-dotted town Chacras de Coria. The breath-taking bulk of the Andean foothills dominates the horizon.
Governor Francisco Gabrielli International Airport is the closest, a 30–40-minute drive from the hotel. Aerolineas Argentinas (www.aerolineas.com.ar) runs frequent two-hour flights from Buenos Aires and 45-minute flights from Santiago in Chile.
Exploring by car is a little less romantic than by bike or horseback, but it is rather more convenient, and will save you some money if you plan multiple trips to Mendoza and beyond. There’s an Avis car-hire booth at the airport and parking at the hotel. Otherwise, you have everything you need on site and staff who are happy to arrange transport if needed.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is happy to keep guests tipsy, with tours of the historic wine bodegas tucked away in the verdant surroundings. Mendoza city is less than 30 minutes away by car, so guests can explore the grand plazas and parks and perhaps climb the Hill of Glory, to see the monument to the Army of the Andes on top. By the Plaza Independencia sits small but aesthetically pleasing Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno (+54 26 1425 7279). Try to stop by on a Sunday night for a free concert or play. To the west of the hotel, the terrain becomes more mountainous, so guests can plot hikes, cycle or horse ride through Andean climes. Book a ride to Cachueta Thermal Baths (+54 26 24 4901 5239), which are secluded in the majestic Mendocinean landscape. The naturally heated pools have added hydrotherapy jets, and there’s a lazy river, white-water rafting and rock-climbing experiences. However, the hotel’s philosophy focuses heavily on charging down and chilling out, and most guests are more than happy to oblige.
You’re unlikely to make the trek from the hotel to Mendoza much, so a blowout meal is called for; and since you’re in Argentina, you may as well make it meaty. Famed chef Francis Mallman cooks up melt-on-your-tongue steaks and fall-apart lamb that’s been barbecued for seven hours in his 1884 restaurant (+54 26 1424 3336). The 19th-century bodega it’s housed in and the pretty terrace set a romantic scene too.
Cute caféPatancha(+54 9 26 1578 2590), on Peru Avenue, has black-and-white graffiti characters scrawled over its scarlet walls. It’s a go-to place for typical Argentinean comfort food, withlocro stew and pastel de choclo (a creamy corn dish), alongside burgers, pastas and salads.
If you need a palate cleanser in between wine tastings, Bar Latina (+54 2 61 201 2484), along the buzzy Arístides Villanueva (close to the Parque General San Martín), serves strong jam-jar cocktails throughout its well-attended Happy Hour and beyond, often with live musical accompaniment. The Sky Piroska is simple yet refreshing, with vodka, fresh orange juice, lime and sugar.
‘Ms, can you please put your clothes back on?’ It was a phrase I didn’t expect to hear on a relaxing girly getaway at country estate Entre Cielos in Argentina, but needless to say, it happened.
The naked perpetrator was my friend – a hard-working art director from New York City who agreed to escape to Mendoza with me for five days of spa treatments and wine drinking (a dream trip, by anyone’s standards). In fact, her pre-trip exhaustion may have been to blame for her scandalous disrobing. On our second day at Entre Cielos we decided to take a leisurely spin through the hammam circuit in the hotel’s much-loved spa. The experience consists of moving from various steam rooms to pools, with a exfoliation pit stop and areas dedicated to lathering in olive-based soap along the way. The purpose of which is to detoxify and relax, or, in our case, to try your hardest not to giggle while lying next to your friend on a giant, hot stone slab.
The nudity and ensuing scandal occurred at the first warm-water pool. Our spa tour-guide carefully instructed us to put on bathing suits and then slip into the pool. Somehow, even though the guide was speaking in English, something was lost in translation – or perhaps the call of the wild was too strong – and my friend understood this as ‘absolutely do not put on a bathing suit’. So, unbeknownst to me, she slipped in au naturel. I was busy working on my back float and didn’t suspect a thing until the guide returned to meet us and gasped, ‘senorita!!’
A swimsuit was hastily donned, and once we’d soaked into a serene state, my flasher friend and I headed to the outdoor pool, where we ordered a bowl of French fries and a bottle of rosé. We wondered if the fries and booze would undo all of that luxurious detoxifying from the spa, but we agreed, based on absolutely nothing, that Argentine fries are healthier than American ones.
The pool at Entre Cielos, which sits within eyeshot of grape vines and mountains, is a sanctuary in itself. There’s something exceedingly indulgent about being at both a pool and a vineyard at the same time – it’s a bit like celebrating your birthday and Christmas in one glorious fell swoop. What’s more, the wait staff are on hand to make sure your wine glass is never empty, and striped Turkish towels, as opposed to run-of-the-mill terry cloth, are a chic touch.
In light of the day’s nude scandal, we decided to lay low that night and ordered room service. However, the following night, feeling more social and fully clothed, we booked the hotel’s Argentine asado, which is a traditional barbecue laden with chorizo, blood sausage, skirt steak, flank, ribs and sirloin. The evening began with appetisers and wine in Entre Cielos’ main dining room, as guests trickled in. Once the entire group had gathered, we made our way to a stand-alone building a few minutes’ walk away. There, a chef greeted us and kicked off the meal with a quick, hands-on empanada-making session.
The evening felt especially unique, as we got to hear the empanada instructions in English, Spanish and German, to accommodate all the present guests’ nationalities. Also, inexplicably, there was a wooden statue of Abraham Lincoln on the table directly in front of my work station – the chef said only that he was fond of the timber bust. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more multicultural experience than folding empanadas to the sound of German voices in the presence of Honest Abe. Entre Cielos knows no borders.
We woke as bona fide empanada makers the next morning, so we decided to celebrate with a shopping excursion. We asked the front desk for suggestions and then headed downtown to Las Viñas, where we found traditional souvenirs like maté gourds and hand-woven ponchos. Next, we went to Prüne, which is the go-to boutique for gorgeous leather bags. Finally, we made our way to Avenue Arístides Villanueva – a drag in downtown Mendoza better known for its bars, but one that also has a number of interesting shops. Cosset has art books, clothes and home wares for the decorator with hipster sensibilities; Vero Gift stocks bath and body goods, including olive-based soaps (similar to the ones at the spa) and massage oils; and #ID’s denims and tees are earmarked for the savviest souvenir hunters.
On our return to Entre Cielos, we made a point of waltzing past the spa with all our shopping bags. We thought they’d appreciate the sight of my friend clutching not only a just-purchased bathing suit, but plenty of (full-coverage) new clothes.