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Catholic abbey now a Hotel

Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine in the Ribera del Duero wine region of northern Spain

What's the one thing a nearly 900 year old hotel in Spain needs to attract guests in 2014 ? Google Glasses at least according to Abadía Retuerta Le Domaine, a converted abbey first built in 1146 set in the country's Duero wine region about two hours north of Madrid that landed on the Condé Nast Traveler Hot List in 2012.

Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine in the Ribera del Duero wine region of northern Spain

The hotel says it's the first in Europe to offer the wearable tech, with eight pairs of the internet-connected specs available. A few properties in the U.S. have started loaning Glass to guests, including the Stanford Court in San Francisco and the ACME Hotel in Chicago, though such an amenity is still a rarity not to mention a somewhat niche reason to book a particular property. The hotel, which is a two-hour drive from Madrid or an hour on a highspeed train, is set in 700 acres of vineyards, bright red poppy fields, and dense pine forests. Wine has been made in the area since Roman times, but became established only with the creation of the monasteries.

Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine in the Ribera del Duero wine region of northern Spain

The monks would be rather surprised to find their former monastery has been turned into a five-star hotel. Hours of fasting, followed by bread and gruel, were on the menu when the monks were in residence. Today the refectory serves exquisite cuisine and locally produced fine wines. But true to its religious heritage, a magnificent life-size fresco of The Last Supper gazes down on diners.

Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine in the Ribera del Duero wine region of northern Spain

Founded in 1146, it was the first Roman Catholic Premonstratensian abbey in Spain, and one of only two to survive the destruction wrought by Napoleon and his armies. After the religious order moved out, the building was designated a national cultural heritage site in 1931. But it fell into grave disrepair thanks to an indifferent government. You can still see the damage inflicted on one section of the Last Supper fresco. The monks might not approve of the luxury, but they would at least welcome the fact that the three main Premonstratensian principles - work, peace and hospitality - are alive and well here.

Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine in the Ribera del Duero wine region of northern Spain

In 2006, Novartis, the Swiss-based owners, launched a multi-million pound restoration programme to preserve and enhance the Baroque-Romanesque architecture. The 22-bedroom hotel opened in March 2012 and in June it was short-listed for a prestigious conservation award from the EU. There is a butler assigned to each room and the diligent staff seem to outnumber the guests by a ratio of four to one. The high, vaulted ceilings and concrete walls adorned with period tapestries and monastic works of art, echo only to the sound of footsteps. The cloister gardens, which were once the scene of reverential prayer, now contain a charming cocktail bar where you can enjoy a light supper.

Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine in the Ribera del Duero wine region of northern Spain

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