Best Gourmet Getaway
The Best Gourmet Getaway is about more than culinary stars: it's an experience to savour. The food is part and parcel of your stay, possibly even the highlight of your trip. Wine-matched tasting menus are all very well, but if they're fancy for the sake of it, we'll take the local chalkboard specials any day.
Winner: The Pig at Bridge Place, Kent
Our judges say ‘With the success of the other Pigs, you might expect the group’s Kentish debut to rest on its laurels. Not so: this tried and tested formula is far from tired. The fierce commitment to a 25km menu, relaxed ambience and wonderfully idiosyncratic interiors work wonders in the heart of English wine country. Another round of honey mustard chipolatas, anyone?’
The Dutchess, Upstate New York
The Dutchess does quiet, contemplative, back-to-nature wellness, but it doesn’t shout about it: guest numbers are limited to a minimum and there are no social media handles (how...well-bred), so there’ll be a conspiratorial air amongst your fellow guests. Everyone has a unique experience here, thanks to a custom-made program that will include activities like yoga, meditation, wellness talks and farming classes. But it’s the free-range, locally-sourced organic food that makes this farmhouse so fabulous. Chef Mark Margiotta whips up hearty, flavoursome dishes that are always gluten and dairy-free – but creative and inspired enough that you wouldn’t notice. Meals are eaten family style, to encourage conversation and connection. In fact, the whole experience is so wholesome, nurturing and nourishing, you’ll feel practically reborn.
Ergon House, Athens
Ergon House, in the heart of ancient Athens, is a marvellous market and boutique hotel dedicated to the worship of food. The Ergon name isn’t new (you may have heard of the deluxe delis started by two brothers from Thessaloniki, now in 13 chic locales across the world) – but now there are rooms too, so you can spend the night in sated style. You’ll find the best and freshest of everything in the emporium, the restaurant and the two bars: from fresh pasta to taramasalata, marmalade to moussaka, every morsel has been hand-selected to represent Greece’s very finest produce. Keen cooks can take their bounty upstairs and whip up dishes in the communal kitchens or just take a seat in the light-filled atrium and leave the preparation to the pros.
Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, Champagne
Perched above rolling vineyards in the picturesque village of Champillon, Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa is a pampering retreat that knows a thing or two about the finer things in life. There’s plenty to savour here, from bubbly tastings to Michelin-star feasts, laps in the vine-gazing infinity pool and body-and-soul ministrations in the seductive spa. All the intimate suites have sweeping vineyard views to tempt you out to tastings – you’re just a stone’s throw from Épernay’s Avenue de Champagne: a who’s who of the starriest producers. But you won’t want to scamper too far from the hotel's two excellent restaurants, linen-draped tables and lashings of honey-hued bubbles. Hic.
Wm Mulherin's Sons, Philadelphia
Named after the Irish family that ran the former whiskey blending and bottling factory housed here in the late 19th-century, boutique hotel Wm Mulherin’s Sons is an on-trend Italian restaurant with four warehouse-chic rooms in Philadelphia’s so-hip-it-hurts Fishtown neighbourhood. The restaurant is split into three sections: a fireside dining space, a wood-fired pizza parlour and a buzzy bar. The eatery is helmed by seasoned chef Chris Painter; wood-fired pizzas and comfort-food pasta dishes are the name of the game. When you've eaten your fill, pull up a seat at the bar and try the rye, walnut liqueur and maple-laced Mister Francis, or order a bottle of wine and cosy up by the fireplace.
Delve into a second helping of our past masters.
Best gourmet getaway award criteria
These are places you'd make a detour for (even if you weren't staying at the hotel); meals memorable enough to recall long after you leave.
Can you feast on something you can't get anywhere else? An unusual take on local cuisine, an exceptional focus on seasonality, a mouthwatering fusion menu? And don't forget the drinks: is the wine list award-winning?
THOUGHT FOR FOOD
We respect a chef who cares where his ingredients come from. Whether your meal includes freshly foraged fruit, Fair Trade cocoa, kitchen-garden herbs or locally landed fish, it should be selected with due diligence.
Is there a celebrated chef or a star in the making in the kitchen? Is their cooking Michelin-quality? Did your tongue tingle, your senses soar?