We arrive at Abadía Retuerta at midnight, the vineyards cloaked in darkness and the stone walls of the former abbey gently glowing from the spotlights.
The gravel crunches beneath us as we drive up to the main building, and when I step out of the car in a sluggish haze, both the chill and the stillness of the air jolts me awake. The first thing I notice is the hushed silence; it feels irrevocably calm here. Realities of urban life seem a world away, and I begin to relax.
Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine is a restored 12th century Baroque-Romanesque abbey, surrounded by vineyards in an estate of 1730 acres, two hours north of Madrid. Comprising hotel rooms and suites, a spa with pool, two restaurants, a bar, and a winery, it sits on the parameter of the village of Sardon de Duero in the province of Valladolid, and is flanked by Spain’s esteemed wineries. I’ve come to this property for its oenophilic and culinary reputation, and true to form, upon checking in, we’re greeted with a spread of Manchego cheese drenched in lemon-infused olive oil accompanied by what appears to be stacks of music bread, a bowl of plums, and a bottle of Abadía Retuerta Selección Especial. After initial exclamations of excitement over the red wine and cheese (we’d been drooling over images of Manchego cheese and Iberico ham en route), my partner and I eat and drink without talking to each other. We’re both too busy focussing on the flavours. Our spread disappears within five minutes, and we decide we need more food. We place a room service order for a platter of Iberico ham, and bread topped with tomato sauce. When it arrives, we finish it with the rest of our wine. That night, I sleep better than I have in months, lulled into an Abadía Retuerta coma with a full belly.
In the morning, the scenery feels new. I look out towards the bright skies, with wide expanses of vibrant green vineyards stretching out for miles. I amble along the glass corridor accented with Nakashima lounge chairs that connects the converted stables – that houses the spa as well as additional rooms – to the abbey, and make a note of how the corridor leans more towards the style of Mies van der Rohe than Medieval church. I’m impressed with how seamlessly the architect Marco Serra has blended the modern with the traditional. The dramatic sweep of the vaulted ceilings, the texture of the thick stone walls, and the original structure of the cloisters constantly remind you of this building’s 1000-year-old history, but contemporary flourishes like the clean, oak floors, tall windows, and pared back furnishings using soft leathers and jewel-toned velvets breathe new life into these older elements. The meticulous, four-year renovation that preceded the opening of this hotel shows; each facet works with one another, and as a whole, this place feels relevant to the modern traveller.
Our dinner at Refectorio – the Michelin-starred restaurant that occupies the former dining hall of the monks – brings together all the components that I love most about this property, including food and wine, architecture, and interior design. Taking in the 17th century frieze of the Last Supper from our dining table, we feasted on almond pancake with caviar, roasted squab, babylamb sweetbread, and spiced foie mi cuit slices. Cleansing our palette with a citric parfait, the finale came in the form of a frozen rosemary cream with honey, pine nuts, and toffee, which I dare say, is the best desert I’ve ever had. The menu from this meal, heavily annotated with my enthusiastic notes, now sits quietly in my desk drawer at home, beckoning me to return.