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Hungry for a gourmet hotel break? From fine-dining country-house hotels and restaurants with rooms to Michelin-starred kitchens, we've foraged the world to find these Smith stays. Whether you want a gastronomic experience or simple farm-to-fork fare, our gourmet-breaks collection has a hotel to suit your tastes.
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Tales from our travels
As you might expect from a chef who trained under Ferran Adrià, Paco Pérez creates dishes that could pass as artworks, colourful culinary portraits painted in foams, jus and powders. But these are not just hollow theatrics – Pérez has a gift for combining flavours that has bagged him a quintet of Michelin stars over the years. Miramar, the seafood-slanted restaurant he set up with his wife in his hometown of Llançà, near Girona, has become a site of gastronomic pilgrimage (sea cucumbers are a speciality). Peréz has not confined himself to Spain, however. When he opened Cinco at the Das Stue in Berlin in 2013, expectations ran high. Within a year, its technically accomplished, Iberian-inflected, 25-course tasting menu had added another Michelin star to his CV.
Contemporary Spanish cooking may well be progressive and forward thinking, but, as in most countries, it’s still dominated by men. Elena Arzak, often lauded as ‘the world’ best female chef’, is a welcome exception. Elena and her father Juan Mari Arzak (one of the big beasts of New Basque cuisine) are responsible for Arzak, the triple-Michelin-star restaurant that has been in their family for 118 years and a standard feature of gourmet ‘must-try’ shortlists. It is set in central San Sebastián (across the river from Smith hotel Astoria 7), home to more Michelin stars per square metre than any other city in the world – possibly related to the fact it sits at the geographical and culinary meeting point of France and Spain. In the last decade, Elena (whose professional education, inevitably, involved a period at El Bulli) has emerged as a remarkable chef in her own right, continuing and building on her father’s legacy with unparalleled artistry and improbably brilliant flavour combinations.
The man behind the kitchens of 17th-century rural estate Predi San Jaumell in Mallorca may have been born in the Balearics, but his culinary travels have taken him all over the world (via a three-season stint at El Bulli). Here in the Mallorcan countryside, he has precision-crafted a small but explosively flavoursome menu that takes island ingredients (home-grown olive oil, fish fresh from the coast, bread from the hotel’s own wheat fields) and turns them into contemporary culinary masterpieces. At an astonishingly good-value €38, his tasting menu is unmissable.
There’s no shortage of on-trend eateries north of the border. Venture off the beaten path with Foodie Trails, a downloadable guide to fresh-from-the-glens produce and unbeatable views. Smoked over hot oak chips in the charming fishing town that gives them their name, Arbroath Smokies are popular with in-the-know chefs (and succulent in fish pies). Housed in an original croft house on Skye, The Three Chimneys is celebrated for its Michelin-star Scottish cuisine and inspiring sea views. In Glasgow, stock up on handcrafted cheeses and oatcakes from IJ Mellis before catching the train to Balloch: the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond make an idyllic setting for a picnic.
At 24, Jordi Cruz became the youngest Spanish chef to earn a Michelin star for his imaginative and avant-garde cooking style. In the 12 years since, he has bagged another three – two of them for the hotel restaurant he’s been helming since 2010, ABaC Restaurant & Hotel in Barcelona’s Zona Alta – written a book on molecular cooking techniques, and been anointed as a judge on Masterchef Espana. In other words, he’s hot stuff (and let’s just say a certain proportion of his Masterchef audience haven’t tuned in for the cookery). Via ABaC’s startlingly inventive 15-course tasting menus (mole ice cream, tuna-skin curry, chocolate ‘earth’, plankton bread and oh-so-much more) Cruz demonstrates exactly how he lives up to the hype.