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‘Those bastards stole the most special stuff’: the inside story of a €1.6m wine heist

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W asn’t it a little odd, thought the night manager, that the woman in room 107 should be peckish so soon after finishing the hotel’s 14-course tasting menu, a paean to the pig featuring tuna belly with red lard, scallops and pig’s trotters, pork jowl pudding with caviar, and Iberian meatballs with cod tripe that had concluded, inevitably, with chocolate and coffee served with aged ham.

In the eight years he had spent in the elegant gloom of Atrio, a luxury restaurant and hotel in Cáceres, three hours’ drive south-west of Madrid, the night manager could recall only two similar requests. “People sometimes ask for a herbal tea, or a coffee, or a glass of something,” he would recall in court later. “But asking for something to eat?

That was very, very odd.”The night manager said he was sorry, but the kitchen was closed. Three times the guest asked if he couldn’t rustle up a little something and three times he politely refused. “But then I thought: ‘This is a five-star hotel, I must serve her.’” The hungry woman accepted his offer of a salad and asked how long it would take.

Fifteen minutes, he told her, then he left reception and went to the kitchen. It was 2.10am on Wednesday 27 October 2021.What the manager did not know – and what would not become painfully evident until 12 hours later – was that the woman in 107 was not who she claimed to be.

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