Escapes for Foodies & Winos
Meals worth flying for. Also, many of these are on working farms that champion sustainability, so you can experience the whole production line (without necessarily getting your hands dirty).
BallyfinBallyfin, County Laois, Ireland | +322.214.171.124.55866
A mere hour from Dublin, this lavish, lovingly-restored, Regency mansion has a pretty insane land-to-guest ratio. While there are only twenty bedrooms (beautifully appointed with four-poster beds, antique furniture, and open fireplaces), they sit on a lush, 600-acre estate replete with rolling fields, lakes, and plenty of Irish wildlife. This will matter to you if you ever opt to leave the house, which is inarguably epic—it boasts an incredible art collection, a well-stocked library, and billiards room, along with one of Ireland’s best organic farm-to-table restaurants with much of the food grown on the estate itself (guests are encouraged to collect their own breakfast eggs). Booze enthusiasts can avail of wine and rare Irish whiskey tastings (also known as “uisce beatha” or the water of life in Gaelic) hosted by the in-house sommelier in the cozy Cellar Bar. Should you want to stretch your legs, there are acres of immaculate gardens, rolling fields, lake fishing, clay pigeon shooting, tennis, archery, falconry, and easy access to golf, not to mention an indoor pool and spa (try the healing Irish seaweed bath, a centuries-old traditional skin remedy). The nearby Slieve Bloom mountains are covered in trails and slopes ideal for hiking, biking, or just soaking up the region's natural beauty.
Ballymaloe HouseMidleton, County Cork | +353.21.465.2531
Spread across 400 bright green, undulating acres of farmland, this country house in rural East Cork looks straight out of central casting. Owned and run by the Allens–the reigning first family of the Irish food scene—Ballymaloe House itself is matriarch Myrtle Allen's former family-residence-turned-hotel. Staying here feels like coming home, the accommodations are supremely comfortable with Irish linen sheets, vintage wallpaper, and fresh vases of wildflowers delivered daily. The on-site restaurant features a menu inspired by the nearby world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School, and showcases the best of Irish produce, most of it sourced within a few miles of the house itself. The full Irish breakfast, including warm scones fresh from the oven and traditional delicacies like black pudding and kippers, washed down with several cups of strong tea, is a quintessential Irish experience not to be missed. We recommend booking in during the annual summer Litfest, a week-long food and drinks literary festival with industry speakers that have included Madhur Jaffrey, Alice Waters, and Francis Mallmann among others. Cooking enthusiasts will relish booking into the cookery school for workshops on everything from bread-baking to Asian cuisine, with all the ingredients foraged by the students themselves from the immaculate walled gardens and fields that surround the school and house.
Flocons de Sel1775 Route du Leutaz, Megeve | +33.0.450.214.999
Located in the French Alps, Megeve has all of 4,000 permanent residents though it's booming in the winter (it came into its own in the early 1900s, when the Rothschilds started coming and everyone else followed). It's also home to this culinary hot spot, which has earned three Michelin stars—it justifies the trip, whether you're strapping on skis or not. Helmed by Emmanuel Renaut (The Crillon, Claridges), who earned his first Michelin star in his early '30s, the food here is as gorgeous as it is delicious. The Relais & Chateux accommodations are both modern and modest—besides a handful of suites, there are some small houses for rent, too.
Hotel AtrioPlaza de San Mateo, Cáceres | +34.927.242.928
Come to Atrio Restaurante Hotel (a collaborative effort between Chefs Juan Antonio Pérez and José Polo and architects Emilio Tuñón Álvarez and Luis Moreno Mansilla) for the world-famous dining, and stay for the serene aesthetics. Located in the history-rich town of Cáceres, this castle-turned-hotel is a study in pristine, minimalist luxury. Situated in a stone building that dates all the way back to medieval times, the fourteen guest rooms are sleek yet comfy and most have two-person tubs and enchanting city views. While the two-Michelin-starred restaurant is known for serving some of the most indulgent dinners in all of Spain (to be enjoyed in a stark-white space decked out with original art by the likes of Andy Warhol), the daily breakfasts are not to be missed. For oenophiles, the property’s wine seller—stocked with an impressive assortment of Champagnes and vintages from wineries big and small—is a destination all in itself.
Hotel Can Boix de Peramola25790 Peramola, Lleida | +34.973.470.266
Mother Nature blessed this idyllic little corner of Catalonia with rugged mountain ranges, lush greenery, and plenty of open space for all manner of outdoor activities (bird watching, tennis, hiking, dips in the massive open-air pool). But more than anything, it’s the on-site restaurant—specializing in traditional Catalan cuisine—that has travelers booking return stays upon checkout at this family-owned hotel. (The land has been in the Pallares family since 1763). Though not particularly memorable, the guest rooms are spacious and come with all the modern amenities needed for a comfortable stay. But the truth is, with so much to explore you won’t be spending much awake time indoors.
Hotel Marques de Riscal1 Calle Torrea, Elciego | +34.945.180.880
This futuristic hotel—designed in 2006 by Frank Gehry—is a rainbow undulation on a Spanish hillside in Basque Country. Inside, it's just as wonderfully theatrical, whether it's the slick rooms (tilted walls, tons of glass and steel, bursts of bright red), or the culinary fireworks. As you look through the cathedral windows at the Rioja vineyards outside, you'll be feasting on red wine caviar and red shrimp carpaccio at the Michelin starred main dining room, presided over by chef Francis Paniego. While it's really about eating and drinking here, there's also a Caudalie spa.
Les Crayères64 Boulevard Henry Vasnier, Reims | +126.96.36.199.90.00
The first reason to pop the bubbly? One hour from Paris, and you're in Champagne, literally. This stately, turn-of-the-20th-century chateau in Reims, France is situated in the namesake region of the good stuff. The second? The timelessly elegant, double-Michelin-starred Brasserie le Jardin has over 600 labels to choose from. Do not pass up the cheese cart.
Lime WoodBeaulieu Rd., Lyndhurst | +44.23.8028.7177
With roots that date all the way back to the 13th-century, this country manor-turned-luxury hotel is still fresh from a top-to-bottom renovation. A short drive from London, Lime Wood’s 15 bedrooms and 17 suites are a stone’s throw from the rural beauty of the New Forest, which in addition to providing guests (both kids and pets are welcome) with nature eye candy and ample roaming space (ask the staff to loan you a pair of Wellies), supplies the hotel’s eateries with freshly foraged fare. With chefs Luke Holder and Hartnett at the helm, Hartnett Holder & Co serves up traditional English dishes letting locally-sourced ingredients shine while the health-focused Raw & Cured—as the name suggest, everything on the menu is either raw or cured—is ideal for wholesome refueling after a visit to the Herb House Spa. Spanning three floors and overlooking the ground, this wellness mecca is hailed as one of the best in the country thanks to rooftop yoga classes, a slew of stress-melting treatments, and the on-site caldarium. What’s a caldarium? A piping-hot plunge-pool inspired by ancient Roman baths. Guests can attend the hotel’s new cooking school, HH&Co Backstage, where star chefs Ian Longhorn, Luke Holder, and Angela Hartnett of Murano fame, coach guests on making their home cooking all the more impressive.
Maison BrasRoute de l'Aubrac, Laguiole | +33.5.6551.1820
This subtly futuristic hotel and restaurant in Laguiole (yes, the birthplace of the knives) is the home of Michel Bras, and accordingly, it draws legions of foodies every year (it's had three, unwavering Michelin stars since 1999). It's tucked away in a tiny corner of France—in a town with a population that hovers at about 1,000—far away from pretty much everything else. In fact, it's a 10 hour trip from Paris, which is why there's a hotel on-site. Bras is celebrated for sublime, and beautifully complex cooking: One salad for which he's famed has 50 ingredients (though miniscule amounts of each).
Melia BilbaoLehendakari Leizaola 29, Centro | +34.94.428.0000
Melia Bilbao takes up prime real estate in the center of Bilbao, walking distance from the Guggenheim Museum and the breathtaking Doña Casilda park. Its jewel tone-dipped guest rooms are furnished with modern elements and make for the ideal five-star home base from which to explore all that Basque Country has to offer. But even more impressive than the the hotel’s sculptural interiors is its in-house restaurant, Aizian. Chef José Miguel Olazabalaga’s traditional Basque menu has earned him high praise from foodies and a Michelin star. For those seeking a more chill atmosphere, head to Q lounge for tapas and cocktails.
Rosewood Castiglion del BoscoCastiglion del Bosco, Montalcino | +39.577.807.078
Situated in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Val D’Orcia, this centuries-old estate south of Siena is truly incredible: Beyond the fact that you walk amidst remnants of walls from the 1100s, it’s surrounded by Brunello di Montalcino vineyards, there’s a world-class golf course, on-site truffle hunting, and the food is unbelievable. There’s a fancy restaurant, but there’s also a casual pizzeria—and kitchens in the villas where you can feast on bread and incomparably sweet tomatoes. While it's plenty romantic, they have a lot of activities (including cooking classes) for kids.