I’ll admit it’s not easy to get to the luxury hotel Grace Cafayate from the United States. The northern Argentinian town where the hotel is located, Cafayate, doesn’t have an airport, which means you’ll most likely fly into the historic town of Salta first, and then drive three hours south. But, if you want a luxury wine country escape for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere, Grace Cafayate is worth the effort.
Getting to Grace Cafayate
Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport in Salta is the closest airport. Depending on when you land, consider spending a day or two in Salta, a city known for its Spanish colonial architecture. From there, you can take a bus to Cafayate or rent a car.
I recommend renting a car, as long as you can drive a stick, so you can pull over to admire scenic red rock formations of Quebrada de las Conchas when you want. Watch for El Anfiteatro (The Amphitheater), Garganta del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat) and El Sapo (The Toad) as you wind your way south on Route 68.
Route 68 ends at Route 40, just a few miles west of Cafayate, in the heart of the wine region. Stop at a winery or for a meal at one of the many restaurants lining Plaza Cafayate, or continue through the town’s center towards the hotel.
Grace Cafayate is located on the left side, but since the hotel can’t be seen from the road, it can be easy to miss. Look for a stone wall reading “La Estancia de Cafayate.” (The hotel is part of a larger, planned community, La Estancia.) Turn at the road there, and after checking in at the guardhouse, follow the signs.
Rooms with a Vineyard View
The hotel has several accommodation options. In the main building, guests can stay in one of 12 rooms, each equipped with an oversized bath, walk-in rain shower, and HD televisions. While there isn’t much difference between the deluxe rooms and the suites, the latter do feature a Jacuzzi and a shower with vineyard views. Rates start at $133 (USD) per night for the deluxe rooms.
I recommend staying in one of the villas, though. The Villa Master Suite, which comes with a kitchen and a private patio with a Jacuzzi, starts at $180 per night and is perfect for couples. Other options include a two-bedroom, one-story villa and a two-bedroom, two-story villa.
The villas have several nice touches I appreciated. First, the kitchens have wine fridges, perfect for chilling your bottles to enjoy later on the patio overlooking the vineyards. Not to mention, the kitchen is well-stocked with utensils, dishes, and a wine opener. And, finally, you melt into the bed—it is so comfortable.
Relaxing at Grace Cafayate
Grace Cafayate has all the amenities you’d expect at a luxury, boutique hotel in wine country. Its restaurant, simply called The Restaurant at Grace Cafayate, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner from an open-air kitchen.
During the day, score a seat near the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the vineyard. At night, order traditional Argentinian dishes like empanadas as a starter, followed by the main dish of beef, goat, or llama. Wash it all down with local wines.
Not hungry? The hotel also has a wine bar, cigar lounge, and spa. Admittedly, the spa relies on simplicity of design and views of the vineyards for decor. But, the spa is the only one in Cafayate and an incredible deal. When I went, a couple’s massage in a private room with a Jacuzzi, sauna, champagne, and sweets was roughly $200 total, plus tip.
If you golf, the concierge can reserve a tee time at the Estancia community course. Other activities can be arranged as well such as horseback rides, guided hikes, and wine tours.
Wine Tasting in Cafayate
At 5,500 to nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, Cafayate is the highest altitude wine region in the world. Dramatic fluctuations between nighttime and daytime temperatures and intense sunlight at the high altitudes cause the grape skins to thicken, producing bold, flavorful wines.
I usually don't drink white wines, but I loved the Torrontes, a dry white similar to Albariño. And, of course, the Malbecs were excellent. Try both flavors in the form of ice cream at the heladerias (ice cream shops) on the plaza.
Start with a visit to the Museo de la Vid y el Vino, a museum dedicated to telling the story of local winemaking. It’s actually really well done and only costs $2 USD. Grab a map of the region’s bodegas (wineries), and plan your day. I recommend visiting Bodega Nanni, known for its organic wines, and Bodega Domingo Hermanos, which gives you four generous tastings paired with housemade cheese for $1.
Tastings at most bodegas cost $2, and staff may or may not speak English. I appreciated how informal the experience was, not at all like the commercialized wine regions in the United States. Piattelli Vineyards was the only exception, but don’t miss it. Even if you don’t book a tour, come for a tasting and stay for lunch on the patio overlooking the vineyards. My ribeye steak lunch with a glass of premium wine plus tip cost $20.
More Things to Do
Like Piattelli Vineyard’s, Bad Brothers Wine Experience just off the plaza is owned by Americans. Come to taste wines at the bar inside the colonial house, or make a reservation for dinner on its patio. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Break from the wine tasting by shopping at the plaza, touring the church there or exploring Quebrada de las Conchas on a guided hike, by horseback, or on a jeep tour.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.