I don’t usually write about hotels in this blog. I may stray to topics like food and coffee, but there is a limit to everything. Hotels are mainly accommodation for the night, while we explore the world during the day. For example on our trip to Epernay, we just bunked at the Ibis. Location, location, location! However, during our trip to Valtellina we discovered a a place that deserves recognition. By accident might I add. The Wine Hotel Retici Balzi was real winelovers paradise with beautiful interior, great wine bar and views over the whole Valtellina valley. The family owned hotel is located in a small village close to the town of Sondrio and it is surrounded by beautiful nebbiolo vineyards. The rooms at the hotel are light and spacious. Nothing extraordinary, but tasteful and comfy. Most of the rooms have windows and a balcony facing the valley. The view is really great and you can enjoy the sun setting west behind the mountains. There is one junior suite, which is similar to the other rooms from the inside, but it has this huge terrace with sun chairs and a hammock. Someone had cancelled their reservation on it, so we actually upgraded to that one. Very seldom we choose a room based on just a balcony, but this time it was totally worth it. The weather was hot and we sat out there enjoying the mountain breeze and trying out some local Valtellina craft beers. Not a problem to borrow an opener and glasses from the reception. There are also two rooms facing the road that are called comfort rooms. These are great value for money if you are ok to enjoy the view from the common terrace (which is also really nice). One fun details is that the rooms have no numbering, but they are identified by a local wine bottle on the door.
The hotel holds an extensive wine bar that is only open for hotel guests. So you can sip on local nebbiolo and Francia Corta sparkling in peace and quiet. The selection was nice: small producers with focus on introducing the local terroir and style. They also had a local sparkling rose from Rainoldi (nebbiolo of course), which I thought was pretty good. The staff were knowledgeable and it was completely ok to order half a glass. The whole experience felt very personal, like a friend was serving wine in the own home. We were also offered some local Breasola sausage, olives and home made crostini to kill the worst hunger. If we could have lived on that I think I would have just sat my ass it that chair all evening without any need to explore the town further. For food we took the easy option and went to the Il Poggio restaurant next door. A very good meal regardless of the great view (to my experience restaurants with views usually do not care about the quality of the food).
The breakfast at the hotel is also worth mentioning (included in the room price). The buffet had local artisan yoghurt, eggs from happy chickens and homemade cakes. The guy managing the bar and kitchen made almost everything himself (same guy that makes the crostinis). I seldom indulge with sweets in the morning, but this time I had no choice.
The only real downside I can think of is that you need a car to reach the hotel. It is located on the hill above Sondrio and it is quite a walk if you do not want to take the car to the city (for example if you want to drink wine). There are some taxis in the area, but you need to book them in advance to secure a ride.
And what did all this luxury cost then? The room rate for the suite was 160€ a night including breakfast and snacks. A comfort room, the one we had initially reserved, was 110€. The wines ranged from 3 to 5€ a glass. So we walked out paying just around 180€ for the whole thing. For me that is amazing value for money. I am really looking forward to coming back. Next time however, I will stay longer than one night.
P.S. There is also a spa for the guests with jacuzzi and sauna (so remember to bring swimwear).