A taste of home awaits in a hot-pink Spanish countryside manor in coastal Galicia – Chicago Tribune
For a number of culinary-minded Chicagoans, the name Beatnik conjures visions of the tropical, boho-opulent restaurants of Bonhomme Group, whose signature daring, outrageous color schemes are also found at its fancy and fanciful Celeste and the fringy glow of late-night burlesque at Bordel.
Ever the innovator, Bonhomme frontman Dani Alonso is taking his penchant for the maximalist aesthetic to Galicia, Spain, where he is opening his first hotel, Casa Beatnik, a camellia pink boutique inn 20 minutes south of Santiago de Compostela on the Iberian Peninsula’s northwestern tip.
“I offer the rare combination of both an outsider and an insider’s perspective. I’ve been coming to Galicia my entire life, almost 46 years, consistently for weeks at a time,” he says. Alonso’s parents are natives of Galicia, and he has spent summers there every year with his family.
Alonso describes Galicia as a region “steeped in tradition but rebelling against it.” He’s in love with its coastal fishing villages, its beaches, its grassy and mossy granite countryside peppered with vineyards and farmland, and its unique culture and language, influenced both by its neighbor, Portugal, and by the Celts who populated it in the fifth and sixth centuries.
Porto, his lush West Town Chicago restaurant, which earned a Michelin star in 2021, reflects that love, and now so will Casa Beatnik.
“When you’re going to have the audacity, as we have had, to cross the Atlantic and plant ourselves here and plant the Bonhomme flag in Spain, I think that Galicia deserves tremendous respect,” Alonso says. “The stories that we want to tell we had to meet our audacity with boldness and a serious investment.”
As with the world’s best hotels, guests will find themselves plagued with the perfect conundrum: stay on-site and soak up the property’s unique splendor and charming hospitality, or leave your home base to explore the rich region that surrounds you. Plan well to allow time for both.
Former home of late 19th-century Galician novelist, theologian and historian Antonio Lopez Ferreiro, the 7-acre property lies just a few clicks downhill from the ninth-century Camino de Santiago. Known in English as the Way of St. James and marked with a yellow scallop shell logo, it’s historically part of one of the three great pilgrimages of Christendom, and this final ⅔-mile stretch remains popular for both pilgrims and tourists.
For years, the property existed as a pazo, a traditional countryside manor common in Galicia, and later as a family-run hotel and winery producing the local white Rías Baixas Albariño from old vines.
Alonso and his brother Juan Carlos, who moved to Galicia to oversee the project, completely transformed the space, preserving historic and traditional elements like the pergola-style grape trellises in the working vineyard, and the stone chapel, while adding luxurious globally sourced flourishes to the 14 guest rooms within. “We ourselves are travelers and nomads, having crossed the ocean to come here. We have that sensibility,” Alonso says. “So we wanted to create a place that celebrates, you know, our favorite things from around the world.”
When you visit, you are quite likely to lose track of your travel companion for a time. You might find them sunk deep into a cozy couch, lolling under Italian Murano glass chandeliers; strolling past leafy grape vines, camellia bushes and fruit trees; gazing into the stream-fed koi pond; or enjoying a Licor 43-based lemon drop cocktail while standing in the red-tiled saltwater pool. The Bonhomme team designed the 21-plus space in vignettes, a collection of experiential moments to immerse and get lost in, like a corn maze for the caviar set.
There’s a sauna and spa, therapeutic massages and yoga, plus glamping yurts for the cycling and Camino crowd. And the aforementioned chapel? The Alonsos converted the sacred space into The Cottage, a sultry, secret sleeping spot for the ultimate privacy seekers clocking in at a luxurious 860 square feet.
Rooms, which start at approximately $315 per night, are spacious and comfortable, and are furnished with the same eye for global design as the common spaces, draped with Suzani throws, antique furniture and free-standing Antoniolupi bathtubs. There’s Wi-Fi throughout, but you’re just as likely to find no need for Netflix or email in such dazzling surroundings.
As with its two Chicago locations, Beatnik restaurant is dripping with signature Alonso vibes, with piles of pillows, dozens of parti-colored Berber baskets, rows of potted palms, and a Moroccan concrete-tiled patio with a retractable glass roof that allows ever-changing views of Galicia’s ever-changing weather. Raindrops plinking above provide a particularly soothing atmosphere, but mist, rainbows, sunshine and clouds show up interchangeably, as dependable as daily sunsets.
At Beatnik, overseen by Bonhomme Group’s chef Marcos Campos, the flavors of Mexico, Peru and Morocco meet the rich local bounty of ingredients and natural resources. Local ingredients shine through a global lens: ceviche of fresh-caught corvina melds with leche de tigre; cochinita pibil morphs into meatballs; and rich B’stilla pastries are filled with deliciously spiced local poultry.
At Tribú, the open-air-but-make-it-insulated fine-dining spot, the team brings tasting menus to the Tiki hut. You’ll eat impossibly tiny vegetables from a nearby farm, seasonal treasures like white asparagus and whole turbot from the wood grill, or crisped sweetbreads with a rich anchovy sauce. Each dish is plated on Galician ceramics and expertly paired with diverse wines from Galicia’s grapes — not just the wondrously aromatic Albariño, but Godello, Mencía, Bastardo, and other varieties that are being vinified in experimental ways to heighten their diverse character. The woven esparto grass textiles that line the space allow for views of the chefs grilling, chopping, and firing up the outdoor wood oven.
Once guests are rested and ready to venture out to explore the region, Alonso and the staff at Casa Beatnik are happy to share advice about their beloved Galicia. “I’ve explored Galicia north, south, east and west, and I think I know what makes her special,” Alonso says. “I can curate, knowing what I think an international traveler and a fellow Chicagoan is looking for, what their top 10 magical experiences could be or should be in Galicia.”
Turn south perhaps, to the verdant hills of Ourense, where Galician cattle graze and Mencía grapes thrive, to hike the Camino and other natural trails, and bathe in thermal hot springs.
Turn north and drive 20 minutes to Santiago de la Compostela, a college town and magnificent historical and religious landmark packed with restaurants, bars, bakeries and a fine public market stacked with an unreal array of sparkling fresh sea creatures, local cheeses and fresh produce. Have lunch on the patio at Abastos 2.0 (abastosdouspuntocero.com), where you can slurp up all the exceptional shellfish you just ogled at the market across the street.
Or keep going north or west to the wild Atlantic coast, through a countryside dotted with farmland, grapevines and pazos, to see the sparkling rías, the typical estuaries of the region, the fishing ports, and to enjoy all sorts of restaurants — from local tabernas, pulperías, and marisquerías to Michelin-starred fine dining, all within a 90-minute drive of the hotel.
If Alonso has his way, visitors will enjoy both getting lost in Casa Beatnik and exploring beyond its walls.
“You get to walk away from Galicia saying, ‘Wow, this is an extraordinary place,’” he says. “It hits on all the senses. It’s a little hidden jewel.”
Lisa Futterman is a freelance writer.