Back in March 2013 I wrote a blog about the difficult choice between going boutique or chain when you travel.
Read it here:

My recommendation (as long as you can use TripAdvisor for guidance) is to always choose a boutique hotel, especially if you are traveling for pleasure.   I do stay at Starwood hotels whenever I travel for business, or if the rest of the group is staying there anyway.  But for pleasure we always look for something different.

This summer, before the harvest season gets going, my kids and I are traveling to Spain to walk part of the “Camino de Santiago”, also called the pilgrimage of St. James, made famous by the movie “The Way” (starring Martin Sheen).  We don’t have the time, or in my case the legs, to do the whole thing so we’ll just walk 70 miles—about the distance from the Mexican border to Ponte Vineyard Inn. What are a few days and a few blisters when you have great food, great wine and your (grown) kids with you?

So now you know our trip will be for pleasure (blisters are pleasure?).  So where to stay? Here are our selections:  Stately rural houses with on-site innkeepers with a long history, and off of the beaten path.  Pricing is in-line with our own Ponte Vineyard Inn ($200 to $300 a night, with taxes).  We are very excited to compare them with more conventional options, and with our hotel.  Here are a few in order of arrival:

Torre do Barrio in Lugo:

Casa Rural Paradas das Bestas in Palas del Rei:

Paso del Sedor in Arzua

Casa da torre Branca in Lavacolla (A Coruña)

And lastly, in Santiago de Compostela we’ll stay at one of the centuries-old monasteries that grace the north of Spain, the famous Hospedería San Martin Pinario, across the St. James Cathedral.  Completed in the seventeenth century, it is definitely not a chain hotel.  Check it out:

Befitting a monastery, the rooms are austere, but elegant:

After leaving Santiago, we’ll…

Well, I’m not going to tell you… Just a couple of photos to give you a hint:

At the end of the trip, we are looking forward to staying one night at the famous Hotel Marques de Riscal, in the Rioja wine country. Designed by Angelino Frank Gehry, it is (like Ponte Vineyard Inn) one of the best 10 vineyard hotels in the world.  Here’s the article with the whole list:

Here are some photos.. WOW!

Stay tuned for a recap!