Gourmet hotel breaks, Tuscany
Hungry for a gourmet break? From fine-dining country-house hotels and restaurants with rooms to Michelin-star-spangled kitchens at the culinary cutting edge, we've truffle-hunted hotels and foraged the world to cherry-pick those Smith stays that go above and beyond when it comes to cuisine. Whether you want a gastronomic experience par excellence or delectable farm-to-table fare, our gourmet breaks collection has a hotel to suit your foodie taste. Bon appetit!
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Fling some dough under the expert, private tutelage of chef Stefano Santo (formerly of two-Michelin-starred Square in London) at Borgo Santo Pietro in Italy. He’ll teach you classic Tuscan dishes for a lifetime of contented munching. And if you need more, consider a foodie-friendly tour of Italy, across Florence, Tuscany and the Amalfi coast.
Could a main course come from anywhere better than Tuscany? Make Castiglion del Bosco – an 800-year-old hillside estate with its own winery that produces a top-notch version of the region's signature Brunello di Montalcino – your villa for four nights, and settle in for several days of decadent wining and dining.
Worth getting out of bed for
– Take Tuscan cooking classes at the hotel's cookery school
– Go Truffle hunting, if the season permits
– Picnic in the vineyards with focaccia, pecorino and a bottle of Brunello
Stay at Castello di Casole – a hill-view haven in the heart of Tuscany set in a culinary utopia, with grapes, olives, lemons and saffron a few of the ingredients in plucking distance – just the place to get inventive with your pizza making.
Take a bite of a fresh-out-a-Tuscan-oven slice and all limp, regrettable crime-against-pizza take-aways are forgotten; this is the real deal. Replicating it at home is the hard bit. Which is why being schooled in the perfect pizza is a lesson worth learning. All the crucial crust-based challenges are tackled, from the dough to the toppings via the all important tomato and cheese foundation, with the added satisfaction that almost everything you use has been grown, pressed or reared somewhere on Castello di Casole's endless estate. Daring dough-flingers may find some inspiration in the pizzeria menu where combos like prawns and swiss chard and red potatoes and rosemary go up against the ever-presents. However yours turns out, though, few foodie endeavours are as fun as muddling your way through your first Margherita, so flour-faced five-year-olds will get as much enjoyment as desperate dinner party show-offs.
Your own convertible, an ocean-side highway and some unironic blasting of The Beach Boys – a California road trip is driving as it's meant to be. Farmhouse Inn, a romantic ranch in wine country, is a great starting point for your adventure, once you've sampled the Michelin-starred food and some local blends (and slept it off, of course). Make a stop at Big Sur for some intimate isolation and dramatic Pacific views at Post Ranch Inn. Alternatively, follow in the tyreprints of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon and take your own feast-fuelled trip around Tuscany (Michael Caine impressions optional). Or, hire a car in Naples, and put Monastero Santa Rosa's address into the sat nav – you'll follow the jaw-dropping Amalfi coastline before tackling a death-defying uphill road to the hotel.