10 Excellent Hotels Run by Chefs Slideshow
The venerated French chef has restaurants situated in superbly grand hotels like the Plaza Athénée in Paris and the Dorchester in London. But his three countryside inns — two in Provence, one in Tuscany — are considerably more intimate. The 33-room L’Andana (created with wine producer Vittorio Moretti) was once the hunting lodge of Grand Duke Leopold II. And its flagship restaurant, La Trattoria Toscana, sits in an old granary with exposed brickwork and cotto tile flooring. There, chef Christophe Martin (formerly at Louis XV-Alain Ducasse in Monaco) uses herbs and vegetables from the inn’s garden and estate-produced olive oil for regional dishes like herb-crusted veal chops and gnocchi sautéed with tarragon. At the more casual La Villa, offerings include slices of Tuscan Cinta ham and pastries fresh out of the cast-iron ovens for breakfast.
Three generations of the Troisgros family have cooked at Roanne’s legendary hotel-restaurant Maison Troisgros, known for its sublime dishes, myriad Michelin stars and hefty accolades (including best French restaurant in the world from French restaurant guide Gault Millau). In 2008, Michel and Marie-Pierre Troisgros opened La Colline du Colombier on an abandoned farm about 10 miles away, with two airy guest-houses and three ingenious suites raised on stilts inspired by cadoles, the local huts used by winemakers to store their tools. Diners at the rustic-modern Grand Couvert, set in a former stable, have views of the kitchen as soon as they enter, where Troisgros can be seen part of the time cooking dishes like fried trout and stuffed artichokes with saucisson.
British megachef Gordon Ramsay has commitments all over the world, including three TV shows in the U.S. and 22 restaurants as far flung as Doha and Melbourne. In 2008, he opened his first and only hotel, transforming an 1820s coach house into the York & Albany with 10 richly appointed rooms (no. 8 and 9 have views onto Regent’s Park) and a surprisingly affordable restaurant (the three-course lunch menu is 21 British pounds). Chef Colin Buchan can be seen in the open kitchen cooking refined dishes like baked lemon sole with chorizo purée, and, on Sundays, hearty traditional classics like roasted sirloin with Yorkshire pudding. Guests can pair pizza with Prosecco at the bar, and at the hotel’s delicatessen Nonna’s, pick up house-made jam and chutneys or a fully-stocked basket for a ready-made picnic.
The utterly tiny El Garzón would otherwise have a ghost town feel to it — except that Argentina’s most famous chef, Francis Mallmann, decided to open a cozy five-bedroom guesthouse and restaurant there. Like at 1884 Francis Mallmann in the Mendoza wine region and Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, wood-fire cooking reigns, as seen in rustic dishes like garlicky salt-crust chicken and roasted filet mignon with chimichurri. Room rates may be steep, but include the cost of breakfast, lunch and dinner, with wine from the boutique Finca La Anita estate.
Over three decades old, The Inn at Little Washington from chef Patrick O’Connell has its throng of admirers — renowned French chef Alain Ducasse once claimed it was the best experience he ever had at a hotel, citing the exquisite meals and incredible room service. The 18 bedrooms and suites are known for their opulence (designer Joyce Evans was once a London stage and set designer), and the dishes, for their wittiness (pepper-crusted tuna “pretending to be a filet mignon,” baby lamb carpaccio with Caesar salad “ice cream”). Diners who want to get near the action can book one of two chef’s tables in the divine blue-and-white-tiled kitchen; those who want to get in on it can sign up for private cooking classes with O’Connell.
Michel Bras’s stunning glass-structured hotel, Bras, is set on a plateau among the pristine Aubrac mountains of south-central France. it houses his three Michelin-starred restaurant and 11 modern-minimalist rooms (each with blond wood furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto the countryside). The restaurant is a family affair where son Sébastien cooks alongside Michel; among their most revered dishes is the gargouillou, an intricately composed salad of up to 60 different vegetables, leaves and flowers that vary according to the day.
The offal-loving chef Fergus Henderson has paired up with Trevor Gulliver to extend St. John’s “nose-to-tail” mantra to “table-to-bed” with the St. John Hotel, opening in the West End in March 2011. There will be 15 rooms with an idiosyncratic “mini grand urban hut” theme (think wainscoting and turquoise floors), from the expansive top-floor suite to smaller “post-supper” options. The menu for the long-awaited first-floor restaurant is still under wraps, except for the cheeky (their word) afternoon buns, which will be made with surprise ingredients like bitter chocolate and anchovies. The exclusive second-floor bar, open only to hotel guests, their guests and diners, will feature a tiny four-drink menu, including the always classic dry martini and the St. John classic, the Dr. Henderson (named after Fergus’s father).
St. John Hotel
Over four generations of the storied Pic family have run restaurant and 15-room hotel Maison Pic, but after a major redesign last year — think clean lines with lots of creams, glass and leather — it looks more au courant than over a century old. At the helm since 1997 is Anne-Sophie, the sole female chef in France with the honor of three Michelin stars. Diners looking for a taste of both her ethereal dishes (pan-roasted Bresse chicken with lemon marmalade, white chocolate and meringue-cognac ice cream) and those of Pic toques of the past can opt for the Collection Pic degustation menu.
The Roux family considers their legendary Waterside Inn a “restaurant with rooms,” the most splendid of the 11 being the Mallards, a two-level suite with a private terrace overlooking the Thames. Created in 1972 by venerated French chef Michel Roux, the restaurant — which enjoys the honor of being the only one outside of France to be awarded three Michelin stars for a consecutive 25 years — is now presided over by his son, Alain. Out of a newly renovated kitchen, he cooks exquisite French dishes like smoked haddock and dill soufflé with a soft-poached egg.
Relais & Châteaux Copyright Droits Réservés
Yves and Claudine Camdeborde’s Le Relais Saint-Germain includes three operations: an elegant hotel with 22 roomy rooms with mirrored walls and exposed wooden beams (the most luxurious is the Marguerite de Navarre, with its own private terrace), and a pair of Paris’s highly buzzed about dining spots. There are two ways to dine at the enormously popular Le Comptoir: Jostle for one of its 20 tightly-packed seats during the daytime (when it’s first-come, first-serve and offerings include delicious bistro dishes like pâtés and terrines and lightly grilled tuna served with a bright anchovy sauce) or book some six months in advance for the evening prix-fixe menu which features plates like roasted Normandy scallops with algae butter. In 2009, the couple opened the adjacent L’Avant Comptoir, their standing room only “hors d’oeuvres bar.”