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Although the tourist infrastructure of La Rioja is definitely improving, particularly with new wineries, wine shops, daytime activities and great restaurants opening all the time, there is one aspect that still lags a little behind – that is flexible accommodation.

There are plenty of reasonable hotels in the area, particularly in the larger towns such as Logroño and Haro. There are even a few “Paradores“, a network of out of town hotels, usually in attractive locations. But what if, like many British tourists, you preferred the idea of self-catering? Well, I have not been able to find a great deal of options on this front.

The first thing you need to know is that the closest equivalent to a self-catering cottage/house is called a “Casa Rural“. There are virtually no flats for rent despite there being many lying empty (Spaniards like to invest in property, but other than the coasts, short-term rental is unusual), but there are a variety of converted country houses around the hill towns and villages of the area.

There are some very nice looking properties in this category, including one I came across recently called Casa Josephine. This one looks fabulous (this picture is from their site), with luxurious rooms, loads of space to relax and even someone to come in and keep the place clean while you are there. Heaven! Not only do the owners understand the modern traveller’s needs (it comes complete with WiFi access), but they even have their own blog (www.casajosephineblog.com) to let you know about what you can do in the area. I really wish more places would be like this one.

What I don’t quite understand is that most tend to be larger houses, with 4 or more bedrooms, and you are expected to take the whole house. This is great if the whole extended family is coming along, or loads of friends are travelling together, as Spaniards will do at festival times. Unfortunately, it does not necessarily suit the average British tourist. Casa Josephine, for eaxmple, is not cheap at €480 a night, but it accommodates 10 or more adults, so it works out fine for bigger groups, but a tad expensive if you only use 2 rooms.

I’m hoping to find a few such sites and will link to them as and when I come across them in the Travel section of this blog, but if you’ve been out already, or know of such a place (or indeed run one), please drop me a note and let me know.

Enjoy Rioja!

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