Hotel restaurants are hardly new. Ryokans in Japan developed to accommodate the needs of travelers, making all-encompassing housing/dining/travel commonplace, as did bed and breakfasts in America and hostels in Europe. Since people have sought places to stay away from home, they’ve needed sustenance, and one tends to follow the other: If there’s a place to sleep, there has to be a place to eat.
Restaurants thus developed in part as a way to meet the needs of travelers. Still, the idea of fine dining meeting high-end hotel hospitality has grown in a way that flips this script to a degree, making the dining element the destination, with lodging and hotel hospitality incorporated. In Birregurra, Australia — a town with fewer than 1,000 residents — chef Dan Hunter opened Brae, a farm and restaurant with six guest suites, in 2013; it’s currently ranked number 44 on the World’s 50 Best list. At the Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Washington state (population also fewer than 1,000), the addition of chef Blaine Wetzel in 2010 turned the restaurant and its eight guest rooms into a fine dining destination; Wetzel took over the inn’s general operations in 2015. At Healdsburg, California’s Single Thread (an inn, farm, and three-Michelin-starred restaurant), an overnight stay with a wine-paired dinner for two costs upwards of $2,000); at Twin Farms in Vermont, rooms, all-inclusive of meals, start at $1,900.
And more concepts are primed to join their ranks. Several multi-day, immersive travel packages headlined by prominent fine dining chefs are in the works, joining a recent flurry of similar openings. Here is a breakdown of recent and forthcoming projects from chefs merging arms of hospitality. These chefs — some stepping back from wildly successful restaurants, and others targeting urban oases — will incorporate their fine dining acumen into lodging and activities.
Location: Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Key players: Joshua Skenes
Projected opening: TBD
Chef Joshua Skenes of three-Michelin-starred restaurant Saison and Angler in San Francisco, has taken his talents to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to open Skenes Ranch. Though without a firm location announced, the project will consist of, as Skenes told Eater SF, “a working ranch and farm, a ‘restaurant,’ a lab, a school, a forum for innovators and collaborators improving how we grow and raise food, and hopefully a model that reminds us to look at food as vitality, as nature intended, and to try and shrink our circle of consumption.” Potential activities at Skenes Ranch include private dinners, foraging, and fly fishing trips, with words of encouragement to “let Skenes Ranch be the architect of your experience.” Details on the opening timeline are still under wraps, so guests must “request an invitation” to the ranch — either that, or it’s a fanciful way of staying in the loop via Skenes Ranch’s listserv. | Website
Casa Maria Luigia
Location: Modena, Italy
Key players: Massimo Bottura, Lara Gilmore
Projected opening: April 2019
The chef behind Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, will open an inn about 10 minutes away from his lauded restaurant this spring, promising breakfast and lunch service in addition to, of course, access to otherwise hard-to-get reservations at the Osteria. “It’s a home,” says Osteria Francescana chef Jessica Rosval, who developed the breakfast menu at Casa Maria. “So what we’re trying to do is give people the experience of being in the countryside, but also being in Massimo and Lara’s home.” That includes luxurious but simple outdoor meals featuring fresh mozzarella and ricotta, focaccia cooked in a wood fire, and oven-roasted vegetables grown on the 12-acre property, not to mention local snacks like Parmigiano Reggiano at the ready inside guest rooms. Rates start at roughly $519 per night, not counting the cost of dinner at Osteria Francescana (an additional $300 per person). | Website
The Milkweed Inn
Location: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Key players: Iliana Regan and her wife Anna Hamlin
Projected opening: August 2019
Currently in development, the Milkweed Inn will sit on 150 acres in Nahma Township near the Hiawatha National Forest, touching the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Regan, the chef and owner of Michelin-starred Elizabeth and Japanese pub Kitsune in Chicago, will forage and gather farm ingredients and will open the inn for summer weekend getaways, offering a variety of accommodations: a three-room cabin, and airstream trailer, or a glamping-ready tent. Costs will be around $600, all-inclusive with meals and accomodations for Friday and Saturday night, and guests can expect a delightfully old-school snail mail package with a map to the site and itinerary confirmation upon booking. | Website
Harbor House Inn
Location: Mendocino, California
Key players: Matthew Kammerer and Amanda Nemec
When it opened: May 2018
Renovated and reopened last May, Harbor House Inn owes its culinary resurgence to Matthew Kammerer, who left his post as executive sous chef at San Francisco’s Saison in favor of the remote inn. He and his three chefs (also previously of Saison) prepare two tasting menus a night for guests, sourcing ingredients from local fisherman and farms, including from the inn’s own greenhouse. There are also foraged ingredients incorporated into the menu, including mushrooms from the nearby forest and seaweed and urchins from tidal pools, and harvested seawater does into producing fleur de sel. Last month, Kammerer received a nod from the James Beard Foundation, listed among the semifinalists for Best Chef award in the western region. | Website
Blue Door Kitchen & Inn
Location: Flint Hill, Virginia
Key players: Andrea Pace and Reem Arbid
When it opened: May 2018
Chef Andrea Pace, formerly of Villa Mozart in Northern Virginia, opened Blue Door Kitchen & Inn with his partner, Reem Arbid, last May. The property, which is about 70 miles outside Washington, D.C., spans five acres, with a handful of guest rooms and with a menu that reflects the chef’s background in Italian cooking as well as Arbid’s Lebanese heritage: think rye ravioli packed with spinach, and artichoke soup and half roasted chicken. | Website
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Key players: Enrique Olvera, Jesús Durón, Patricia Hernández, Ma. De Lourdes Hernández
When it opened: April 2018
Chef Enrique Olvera, known for his acclaimed Mexico City restaurant Pujol and New York City’s Cosme, opened what’s described as a “combination inn and culinary workshop space” in CDMX’s Polanco neighborhood, featuring just two rooms. The rooms are available for guests and chef residencies, with breakfast provided. Bookings are available through Airbnb, starting at $400 a night. | Website
Dana Hatic is associate editor of Eater Boston. Additional reporting by Monica Burton.