Foodies: You’ll eat up Bon Appétit magazine’s inaugural roundup of top 10 hotels for food lovers.
(Photo: Blackberry Farm)
In a nod to the food-driven travel craze, Bon Appétit this month describes the properties in the USA that its editors say are worth your vacation time and money. The properties range from countryside inns where there are no other restaurants nearby to hipster-filled boutique hotels.
The “10 Best Food Lover’s Hotels in America” focuses on quality food made with locally grown ingredients and prepared simply.
Some hotel restaurants make the mistake of striving to be something they’re not, such as a Michelin-starred restaurants in New York or Paris, Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport says. “Food that’s sort of confusing drives me nuts,” he says.
Some also take a wrong turn by not celebrating their geography, he says, citing a dish of mango-glazed foie gras offered at a Caribbean hotel.
He wonders, “Why are you serving it to me when all you want is a piece of perfectly grilled, fresh fish?”
No. 1 on Bon Appétit‘s list is Blackberry Farm, a 62-room inn and restaurant set amid 4,200 acres in the green, rolling hills in Walland, Tenn. It’s nowhere near Tennessee’s best-known destinations, such as Nashville about two hours away.
People who visit Blackberry Farm go there to eat, so the food has to be good, says chef-proprietor Sam Beall. The property is known for its wine cellars, as well as the heirloom gardens and dairy on the premises.
Eating dinner there alone costs about $125 per person, excluding alcohol and a night’s stay.
“When the traveling consumer today thinks about where they’re going to spend their hard-earned money,” Beall says, “it’s often Bali, Fiji, Carmel (Calif.), New York or other iconic locations. Walland, Tennessee just doesn’t pop up on your radar.”
“As a consumer, I can’t imagine committing to a vacation and not having a complete experience,” he says. “If we’re going to be having three meals a day especially at a destination location where there are no other options like ours — it’s going to let down the entire experience if the food’s not good.”
The top 10 list comes at a time when people are more curious about the foods they eat and how they impact their health.
It also comes as the farm-to-table concept, which stresses ingredients made or grown in the region, eaches the menus of some otherwise-typical, four-star chain hotels.
“There’s greater awareness that the food you choose to eat has a direct reflection on your health and enjoyment,” says Beall, son of the founder of the Ruby Tuesday casual restaurant chain.
Among other hotels that you’ll see on the list:
- Ace Hotels. “They reinvented what a hotel could be,” Rapoport says. In New York, the Ace hotel’s restaurants including Breslin helped transform a downtrodden neighborhood into a trendy, sought-after one that’s now undergoing a hotel and restaurant revolution. “They understand who their audience is. It’s a younger, hipper audience,” Rapoport says.
- Manka’s Inverness Lodge. This Arts-and-Crafts-style property near Sonoma County’s rugged coast comes in at No. 9. Rapoport says it looks like it was styled by Ralph Lauren, with big wool blankets available for getting warm. He praises the hot sticky buns for breakfast as well as the service. “They get every little single detail right,” he says. You can feel that it’s “not run by some corporate entity,” he says, but by people with pride in the property.
The full top 10 list that you’ll see in our photo gallery:
1. Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
2. Ace Hotels, New York, Palm Springs, Calif., Portland, Ore.
3. Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Wash.
4. Dunton Hot Springs, Dolores, Colo.
5. Nebo Lodge, North Haven, Maine
6. Los Poblanos, New Mexico (see a full profile of Los Poblanos on 10Best.com)
7. Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, S.C.
8. 21c Museum Hotel – Louisville
9. Manka’s Inverness Lodge, Inverness, Calif.
10. Longman & Eagle, Chicago
Can mainstream hotels do better? You bet, Rapoport says.
“We need to have more interesting, fun, quality restaurants in our hotels,” says Rapoport. “This is not the 1980s anymore. They can’t get away with generic dining rooms. You can have cool hotel restaurants that are cool restaurants. They just happen to be in a hotel.”