Yep, Farm-to-Table Hotels Exist and We're Obsessing Over These 10
If you have a vacation coming up, that means you have some pretty amazing things coming your way—a chance to soak in a new place, a few days away from the office, maybe even the opportunity to try out that new Instagram filter you've been saving for an epic adventure pic. But as hard as you work to eat right and maintain a wellness lifestyle at home, all of that can go right out the window during a hotel stay. It also means you're likely in for lots of not-so-healthy room service meals and underwhelming hotel food—or, if you try to maintain some semblance of nutrition, you'll be eating bland iceberg lettuce salads and dry, flavorless cereal.
But traveling doesn't need to be a setback for your diet or wellness routine. It doesn't matter if you're on vacation or rushing between business meetings; a hotel stay shouldn't leave you feeling sluggish, bloated, and in dire need of a workout when you get home. These hotels make eating healthy while away both doable and totally tasty. Offering some of the world's most unique and curated places to stay, Tablet Hotels just released their most recent list of best farm-to-table hotels which includes places that not only have stunning properties, but also take that extra step to ensure that their guests have access to the best seasonal and local foods.
1. Blackberry Farm
This may well be the most delightful place on the Eastern seaboard. Nestled at the foothills of the Tennessee Smokies, Blackberry Farm includes the best parts of American hospitality. Picture this: 4,200 acres of wildflower-strewn land, 44 rooms of feather beds and English country antiques. Then add a regime of iced tea picnics, horseback riding, tennis, fishing, and fireside dining. Staying here is like being the guest of an extremely rich estate owner, only you don't have to kiss up to the host. It's enough to make the sourest Yankee smile. No matter how hard you resist, everyone gets on a three-meal eating plan, plus extras. You couldn't starve if you tried: from breakfast in bed to lunch (including, but not restricted to new potato salad, beef tenderloin, deep fried corn on the cob, and two kinds of pie) to the four course dinner. Blackberry Farm has been winning raves for the last 11 years for its unpretentious and yummy foothills food—pecan-crusted trout, pickled fresh water prawns, and grits. Plus, Blackberry Farm has one of the best wine cellars in the southeast with over 60,000 bottles to satisfy any wine enthusiast.
L'Andana occupies a particularly auspicious parcel of land near western Tuscany's Tyrrhenian coast—Tenuta La Badiola was once the summer residence of the Grand Duke Leopold II, and today is as picturesque a collection of vineyards and sun-drenched foothills as one is likely to find anywhere in Italy. Despite this well-bred heritage, the estate's aristocratic connection is traded on rather lightly, trumped by an association with a more current name, that of its owner, the French star chef Alain Ducass. The restaurant, a 100-yard walk across the grounds to the old granary building, where a simple Tuscan cuisine is delivered with flourishes of Ducassian wit, accompanied by wines from L'Andana co-owner Vittorio Moretti's vineyards. Ingredients are fresh and unmediated, as is the current vogue, many, like the olive oil, produced on the grounds.
3. Northcote Hotel
A country house whose chef is the main attraction? What could be more perfectly of-the-moment in today's food-obsessed world? Of course, it's a story as old as hotels themselves, and it's been an apt description of Northcote since the 1980s, when general manager Craig Bancroft took a chance on a young chef by the name of Nigel Haworth. It's been onward and upward for both of them ever since. In fact the hotel is, if anything, the quiet half of the equation—both the original Victorian manor house and the new garden lodge cut a dignified though unpretentious silhouette. And inside, you might be surprised at the contemporary turn taken by the décor—the rooms are distinct in character, luxe in appointment, and go just far enough towards modern design to be invigorating but not alienating.
4. Crosby Street Hotel
A hotel like Crosby Street is exactly what N.Y.C. needs. The contrast between the downtown grit of the cobblestone street outside and the plush sophistication of the hotel's lobby is immediate, and striking. Say what you will about the bright colors and the decidedly un-minimal décor—it's a rare New York boutique these days that presents so opinionated a face to the world.
5. Carneros Resort and Spa
Finally, a break from the Tuscan-Provençal style that seems to dominate the California wine country. Carneros Resort and Spa, at the south end of Napa, close to San Francisco, is rather more modern, its style a sort of rustic minimalism, its inspiration seemingly drawn not from Europe but from the American Midwest and Northeast. Add to this a long outdoor pool with an idyllic view of the vineyards, a spa to compete with any in the wine country, and Farm, a restaurant serving locally-sourced California cuisine, and it's clear Carneros is a contender. There's no accounting for taste, of course, but if you're not afraid of modern architecture, you'll find nothing at all to complain about here.
6. Niki Club & Spa
The world of Japanese country inns can seem an impenetrable thicket to foreign visitors, thanks to the language barrier, the obscure locations, and the arcane traditions. Even the traditional Japanese architecture gives little guidance to Westerners not schooled in deciphering the buildings' spatial grammar. The Niki Club & Spa tackles that last problem, cracking the code with a key that's familiar to boutique hotel devotees the world over: modernist architecture. The dining room and the library bar are housed in the original wing, while the new expansion is home the Garden restaurant and the international-style spa; onsen aficionados find the traditional baths in the old wing, and the woodland baths, the outdoor hot springs alongside the river, are not to be missed. Viewed on its own, it's a unique take on the Japanese onsen resort experience; or as an introduction to Japan's country inns, it's a perfectly accessible hybrid.
7. Hôtel Mas de Peint
Hôtel Mas de Peint is a charming 17th-century farmhouse, still the homestead of Jacques and Lucille Bon, covered in ivy and surrounded by the Camargue rice. Jacques's family has grown for generations, as well as acre after acre of ranch land upon which Jacques, today, raises semi-wild long-horned bulls for a sort of local variant on the bullfighting tradition called Course à la Cocarde. In case that sounds a bit too rustic for you, rest assured; Lucille is a designer and interior architect, and le Mas shows many signs of her touch throughout its eight rooms and three suites. Exposed pine beams and the occasional antique fixture display the hotel's farmhouse heritage, while soft solid pinks and greens, smart contemporary furnishings, and such inventive gestures as the green room's mezzanine-level bathroom showcase Lucille's talents. Dinner is served at large round tables right in the middle of the kitchen, a feat that would be impossible in a less intimate hotel. The cuisine is built up from local ingredients, featuring local beef and produce (naturally) as well as Mediterranean seafood and the unique red Camargue rice. And despite the friends-and- family atmosphere in Jacques and Lucille's kitchen, you'll need a reservation, as this is a much sought after dining experience.
8. Lime Wood Hotel
A place like Lime Wood, despite all appearances of insouciance, doesn't just happen by accident. The minds behind the house's current boutique-hotel incarnation are hospitality heavyweights, including alumni of some of Britain's top hotels, both independent and corporate, and the staff is an all-star team as well. There's a very fine yet totally unpretentious restaurant, with a resolutely fresh-and- local menu by chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder, and a spa that's just luxe enough. Lime Wood's price point means it's not exactly a budget offering, which makes the lack of pomp and circumstance even a bit more daring — a less confident hotel would be tempted to cram in as much gilt as possible, so as to really earn every last pound. Lime Wood gets the balance just right — which is something worth paying for.
9. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
This particular sheep ranch, the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, lies not on some dull green hillside but on the headlands overlooking Hawke's Bay, on the North Island of New Zealand — a stunning setting in a country that's not short on stunning settings. The lodge itself isn't hard on the eyes either — the building is a peculiarly modern sort of rustic, and the interiors are elegant, understated, clearly built at least as much for comfort as for good looks. They're all suites, and they all have sweeping panoramic views up and down the coast, plus a full complement of modern and classic conveniences — flatscreens, iPod docks, luxury bathrooms, fireplaces. In keeping with the subgenre of NZ lodge hospitality, you can expect a very upscale dining experience. The sourcing is local, with produce literally from the backyard when possible, but the dishes are refined — gentlemen, pack a jacket.
10. Le Germain Charlevoix
Though Le Germain Charlevoix is set on a working farm and runs its own farmers' market during the summer months, the hotel itself is as modern as they come, proof that today's travelers don't see any contradiction between comfort and contemporary design. Much more than an updated farmhouse, it's essentially a small village, its 145 rooms spread between five farm-inspired modern buildings. It's forward-thinking enough to have its own train station, so you can walk on in Quebec City and walk off right at the hotel, no car required. A couple of restaurants serve the local produce in fine fashion, and the Spa du Verger is no less stylish than the rest of the hotel. At the moment Le Germain Charlevoix is something of a well- kept secret, but we don't see any reason to let Quebec have all the fun.