Trips for Solo Travelers
When we first launched our Escapes guides, we heard from a few readers who explained that they were single, filled with wanderlust, and wanted some good options for getaways with some structure—where they wouldn’t feel completely isolated. We compiled a list of getaways that are centered around learning (cooking, painting, photography, etc.), as well as some of the world’s best adventure travel outfitters. They organize small, intimate group trips that are great for singles and couples alike: You get once-in-a-lifetime experiences, along with great company at mealtime. Solo vacationers should also check out (and into) any of these wellness spas and getaways.
Flora FarmsLas Animas Bajas, San Jose del Cabo | +52.1.624.355.4564
If you're into more of a vacation enclave with a farm-to-table bent then head to Baja California to check into one of the ten charming Culinary Cottages at Flora Farms: a twenty-five-acre organic working farm in the foothills of Sierra de la Laguna Mountains in San Jose del Cabo. Renters and owners can submerge themselves in harvesting the heirloom vegetables–and cooking meals in the fully equipped cottages. Although access to the private beach club, family pond, pool, and spas is exclusive to owners and renters, The Field Kitchen (where the ingredients are often picks minutes before they are served), Farm Bar, and Flora Grocery (which sells sustainably raised meats, handmade breads, and organic vegetables), are open to all, expanding its culinary experience beyond the cottages.
Blackberry Farm1471 W. Millers Cove Rd., Walland | 865.984.8166
Buttermilk biscuits with a view. Equal parts luxury hotel, world-class kitchen, and working farm, this 4,200 acre foodie resort in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains is a slice of heaven for those hungry for rest, relaxation, good music, and, of course, incredible Southern cooking. Check their calendar before booking for events that may be of interest like truffle hunts, photography workshops, wellness weekends, and featured celeb chefs like Joanne Weir and Daniel Boulud.
BabylonstorenR45, Simondium | +27.021.863.3852
For the better part of a decade owners Koos Bekker and Karen Roos lovingly worked on restoring a 300-year-old farm at the base of the Simonsberg mountains into a wine destination in its own right. There are only thirteen rooms (formerly farm-workers’ cottages) and each one is whitewashed and pristine with an open floor plan and modern furnishings from the likes of Kartell and Bourellec Bros. For those in need of something more generously sized, whether it’s for themselves or for a couples getaway, the five-bedroom Owner’s House is pretty special, and features checkerboard floors in the bathrooms, a soaking tub, and the farm kitchen with its own wood-burning stove. On property, an eight-acre walled garden informs much of the menu at its restaurant, Babel, which churns out deliciously fresh meals. (In the summer months, it's yellow tomatoes, apricots, and gooseberries, while a winter menu may feature, say, a slow-cooked lamb leg in a red wine sauce.) For a bit of pampering, spa treatments can be had in the bamboo pavilion, which also includes a Hammam. Guests can participate in the harvest, pruning, and picking (they provide trowels and gloves), and they also offer wine tastings, though Babylonstoren is also within easy striking distance of South Africa's other celebrated vineyards. If you’re in need of an expert to help you plan a longer Africa trip, consider Deborah Calmeyer, a trip-planning ace at ROAR Africa, who can set you up at Babylonstoren and beyond.
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’SaisonsChurch Rd., Great Milton | +44.0.1844.278.881
This stunning old-world spot in Oxfordshire is home to Raymond Blanc's two Michelin-star restaurant and an attached Cookery School. There, you can master macaroons and pistachio soufflés, or a fail-safe menu for a Spring dinner party. They also have tons of cooking classes for kids. Speaking of children: There are only thirty-two tastefully appointed guest rooms, and while this Belmond has the feel of a quiet English countryside manor, they go above and beyond to ensure that little ones are entertained too. There are bikes, bocce, buckets of toys, and video games on-site.
Daylesford Organic FarmDaylesford near Kingham | +44.0.782.408.1468
Experience firsthand what it’s like to live on a farm with the comfort of knowing you’re going home at the end of the weekend. Located in Gloucestershire, Daylesford is a real-deal working farm that focuses on organic, sustainable practices and passing on knowledge to anyone who’s interested. You get to stay at one of the adorably rustic cottages which are just steps from the Daylesford Farmshop (which you've probably seen scattered all over London) and ideally situated for classes at The Cookery School. You can also stay at their sister hotel, The Wild Rabbit —a modern inn, filled with country charm—located in the heart of the Cotswolds. Artisan bread making and quick and simple suppers are just a sampling of the inventive courses offered throughout the year. While there, stop by the on-site creamery, bakery, or market garden and load up on seasonal snacks for the trip back.
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.
Los Dos Cooking SchoolCalle 68 517, Centro, Mérida | +52.999.928.1116
This week-long Yucatán cooking workshop is a great alternative to the boozy ragers normally associated with Mexican getaways. The school is located in beautiful Mérida, inside the home of late expat chef, David Sterling. Sadly, David passed away last year, however, the workshop lives on under the direction of his right hand-man, Chef Mario Canul. This is a fully immersive, hands-on experience, so expect to accompany the chef to the market for ingredients, which you will then prepare in a private (and perfect) kitchen. In addition to time spent cooking, you’ll be taken on tours of Mérida, the surrounding Mayan archeological treasures, and colonial Izamál. Additional trips to local farms and rum distilleries (in case you're looking to booze it up a bit) can be arranged as well. We recommend shacking up at either Coqui Coqui, or Rosas & Xocolate.
Castello di VicarelloLocalità Vicarello, 1, Poggi del Sasso | +39.0564.990447
Though it offers incredible views of the Tuscan countryside and an excellent spa, the 12th-century castle-turned-hotel is really about food. The owner, Aurora Baccheschi Berti, is a world-class chef who specializes in Northern Italian cuisine (check out her cookbook here). In addition to whipping up a daily breakfast spread she holds cooking classes (fresh pasta making, for example) using organic ingredients grown right on property. There’s also a working vineyard and an olive grove where you can witness the harvests firsthand.
Thacher House4424 Thacher Rd., Ojai | 248.420.4108
Hovering somewhere between a bed and breakfast and organic co-op farm, LA-transplant Calvin Zara’s refurbished four-bedroom Thacher house and its four private cabins is where you want to be for a fully-immersive, get away from it all experience (it accommodates no more than 20 guests at a time). If you stay here, be prepared to share the lush grounds with chickens and a family of goats, in addition to citrus and pomegranate trees and a garden. Needless to say, all the food served at the beautifully appointed dining room is sourced locally or from the Thacher House farm itself. Also on offer: classes in cooking, baking, olive-oil pressing, wine-making, and so much more.
Foxglove Farm1200 Mt Maxwell Rd, Salt Spring Island | 250.931.5336
A stone’s throw from Vancouver, Salt Island is something of a creative enclave for the culinarily inclined. Think impossibly picturesque, rugged setting where you’ll find vintners, cheese makers, and other creative types in residence year-around. It’s just that spirit that inspired Michael Abelman and Jeanne-Marie Herman to open Foxglove Farm, a 121-acre organic farm which holds cooking and gardening classes, plus mushroom-foraging and cheese-making courses. Its location, 1,200 feet above sea level, means they regularly grow everything from peaches, plus, quince, figs, cherries, plus a nourishing mix of veggies and legumes. (As a result their veggies have graced the table at the likes of Chez Panisse and Zuni Cafe, too.)