By Diane Small
Thanks to globalisation, international cuisine can be found in any major city. In fact, one of the ubiquitous ‘first world problems’ we all face is: what to eat tonight? Thai, Chinese? Lebanese, Italian? Or maybe let’s get exotic and order from that Khazak grill?
As foodies seek new and exciting dishes, they’re also increasingly conscious of exactly what it is they are eating, and the impact their food is making on the planet: not only do berries flown in from tens of thousands of miles away have a ridiculously high carbon footprint, but they also taste like rubber.
One of the most memorable holidays a true gourmet can have is visiting a local agri-hotel that produces what it serves on the table. Whilst once this may have meant sitting around an oilcloth-clad dining table with Ma and Pa Farmer, today there’s a growing number of farm to table hotels. These are luxurious hotels situated on working farms, offering fully immersive gastronomic experiences.
Here’s a look at some of the best farm to table hotels we know of, featuring organic, natural food.
For those who like tropical flavours best, we’d highly recommend Belle Mont Farm. Nestled amongst 400 acres of fertile, organic farmland and lush tropical forest on the island of St. Kitts in the West Indies, this hotel offers organically-grown fruit and vegetables delivered to your bungalow’s door each morning. You can even pick our own fruit from trees that carry signs indicating their fruits are ripe. For anything not grown on the premises, Belle Mont works with sustainable farms and responsible local suppliers. There’s plenty to do at this sustainable luxury hotel too, from golfing on their organic course to swimming in their glorious infinity pool and more.
Taking a room in a ryokan is always an incredible experience. The Japanese are big on traditions and rituals, and staying at a ryokan offers both. Although the Terence Conran–designed Niki Club is a modern hotel with a wonderful aromatherapy spa, three kinds of bathing experiences and a bar, it offers hospitality in the traditional Japanese way. A meal here potentially taking several hours – though you can also opt for a picnic basket to take to the lushly verdant surrounding area, which is thriving with bunnies, squirrels and other wildlife. All ingredients are natural, organic, and grown on-site or foraged from the surrounding forests. Indeed, the food is exquisite, both in flavour and presentation, making this is an experience for the culinary adventurer.
Situated smack dab in the middle of the legendary Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, you will find one of the region’s finest luxury hotels, but with a twist: at its centre is a working farm, which grows just about everything you’ll be eating here. Think fresh fruit and vegetables, tangy herbs and cheeses, and delightful jams and preserves. The wildflower honey is even produced by the farm’s colony of bees! There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and despite the myriad delicacies on offer, if you stay here, you can also get in shape: there are myriad spa treatments on offer, as well as a variety of health and wellness classes. Of course, jogging, biking or walking around the vast property is a healthy pleasure, too – and the perfect way to work off lunch!
Run by renowned French chef Alain Ducasse, L’Andana is a place of pilgrimage for true gourmets. Of course, as with any hotel associated with Ducasse, L’Andana is a first-rate, five-star luxury property featuring a swimming pool, spa and horse riding lessons. With its surrounding vineyards and olive groves, it’s also an Italian foodie Mecca for those with truly adult palates. If wine tasting and pasta sampling under a Tuscan sun are your idea of paradise, then look no further.
This hipster haven is transforming a little corner of New York City into something of an agricultural wonderland. Crosby Street makes use of its rooftop to keep a chicken coop and garden, where the restaurant’s herbs and vegetables are grown. Who knew there was a working farm 12 stories above SoHo? The hotel is worth staying in to simply sample its breakfasts, which feature eggs laid fresh on the roof, or its high tea – simply sumptuous!
Whilst California may be best known for its green juices and chia seed puddings, Napa Valley is of course, well known for its wines, and these are the focus of the Carneros Inn. This hotel does have a lot of what you’d expect from California though – sunny skies, swimming pool and friendly people, but in addition, it is doing its best to bring fresh, non-GMO food and wine to its guests. The Carneros Inn produces its own vegetables and fruits, and makes pastries and breads fresh on the premises, as well as charcuterie.
Camargue is perhaps best known for its richly nutritious red rice, and of course Hôtel Mas de Peint, built around a 17th-century farmhouse, is dedicated to growing this delicacy, amongst other crops. This is still very much a working farm as much as it is a hotel. Camargue is also French ranch territory, so carnivores can expect some local beef, and the proximity of the Mediterranean means fresh seafood is never far from the table. Vegetarians may have a hard time finding a wide variety of foods here, but you can always count on some fresh local salad, rice and lentils! There’s plenty to do here besides eat, too: ride one of the beautiful stallions nearby, go for a bike ride, hike, or visit the local Museum of Rice, for example.
England isn’t known for its tasty food, but Lime Wood is changing all that – thanks to some Italian influence! Lime Wood is the very definition of a farm-to-table property. Proprietors Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder grow produce and herbs right on site, and an expert forager brings back the best wild ingredients from the New Forest. As if that weren’t enough for most gourmands, the hotel’s own Smoke House cures salmon and charcuterie, and all this glorious food is put together with Mediterranean recipes to die for. Vegans, never fear – there is plenty for you to eat, from wonderful risottos and rich vegetable soups to decadent fruit-based desserts.
Surrounded by a wide variety of farmers and food producers in the gloriously verdant Hawke’s Bay, Cape Kidnappers has never had a problem sourcing intensely local ingredients, but now they’ve planted their own garden, too. Which is good news because rather than kilometres, their “food miles” can currently be better measured in feet and inches. This isn’t a great place for vegans, as New Zealand lamb features heavily on the menu, as do buttery pastries – these are made from scratch right on the premises, and smell heavenly whilst baking!
Quebec is possibly most famous for its ski slopes and French Canadian food, so maybe the best time to visit here is in the winter – even when the province is blanketed in snow, you may be surprised to find that all of Le Germain’s fruits, vegetables, and herbs are grown in the hotel’s garden, and the honey is produced on-site by Le Germain’s industrious hives. What’s not produced here directly is made locally, including delicious cheeses that definitely give French cheeses a run for their money.