With travel on pause for most of 2020, people are looking to plan epic trips in 2021 after months of dreaming about it. More than ever, rather than just going to Europe, they want to experience the ultimate version of a place—whether that means staying in an 800-year-old farmhouse in the heart of the Tuscan countryside or dining on local ingredients in a Portuguese farming village. With hotels that are authentically woven into their location and the surrounding community, Querido makes dreams like these possible.
A collection of some of the finest family-owned hotels across Europe, Querido is all about feeling the essence of a place. Located everywhere from Spain and Portugal to France, Italy, and the Netherlands, each property is entirely unique to its location, offering the type of stay you couldn’t expect anywhere else in the world.
At Lily of the Valley in the French Riviera, guests can spend time in a nearby garden learning about the seasonal vegetables, herbs, and flowers used in the hotel’s signature cuisine, while at Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, they can dine on traditional Apulian dishes drizzled with local olive oil. By tasting regional ingredients and getting to know the natives, guests head home with a more profound understanding of place—and the type of travel memories you can’t get from a guidebook. Keep reading to learn more about how these Querido properties are more than a place to rest your head, and where to stay for the trip of a lifetime.
Sleep surrounded by a working farm
Located on nearly 2,000 acres in the heart of Portugal’s Alentejo region, São Lourenço do Barrocal has been in the same family for more than 200 years. Inhabited since Neolithic times, the property has gone from being the center of megalithic culture in Central Alentejo to a small farming village in the 19th century. Today, the former homes of farm workers and their families serve as guest rooms, while the farm stocks the hotel restaurants. “We sometimes say, in a very informal way, that before we were hoteliers, we were farmers,” says owner José António Uva. “And clients can see, experience, and taste this when staying at Barrocal.”
Dedicated to preserving the richness of the Alentejo landscape, the hotel estate is home to gardens full of organically cultivated vegetables, fruits, and herbs, as well as an orchard with apple, pear, peach, orange, fig, and cherry trees. There’s even an onsite winery that produces reserve reds and crisp whites; an olive grove, which is hand-harvested to make organic oils; and a resident herd of cows to supply the farm-to-table restaurant. Guests can taste these riches for themselves at the hotel’s main restaurant, where the menu focuses on regional flavors, and Hortelão, which serves grilled local vegetables, acorn-fed pork from Alentejo, and fish from nearby Alqueva Lake. According to Uva, other staples that can’t be missed are “artisanal bread brought every day by the baker who is our neighbor, honey and honeycombs from the next-door producers, and Iberian black pig charcuterie.”
Get a taste of coastal Portugal
Sublime Comporta may only be an hour from Lisbon, but it feels like another world, surrounded by umbrella pines, cork trees, wild sand dunes, and rice fields. Here, sustainability informs the architecture and landscaping, wildlife is abundant, and cultural heritage is rich. The Sublime Comporta Beach Club, which opened last year, draws on its coastal location and local fisherman for a menu focused on sea-to-table cuisine. An orchard features regional and Portuguese citrus. And there’s an organic garden on property with more than 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers, many of them native to the region, and all of which are used in the various hotel restaurants.
Located in the middle of the garden is Food Circle, where the chefs employ ancestral cooking methods and fire has a leading role in a 12-seat chef’s table experience under the stars, inspired by seasonality and paired with Portuguese wines. “The smell of the real ‘farm to table’ food, the taste of the various Portuguese wines, the sound of laughter and music, the cooking show for your eyes,” describes the scene according to Gonçalo Pessoa, Sublime Comporta’s owner, adding “all will seduce you into this incredible experience.” Elsewhere there’s Sem Porta, which partners with local wineries and other producers to focus on local ingredients in tribute to traditional Portuguese and regional dishes, and Tasca da Comporta, which serves traditional Portuguese petiscos (small plates) like octopus salad and pica-pau beef loin with pickles.
Savor the spirit of Andalusia
Originally owned by Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Marbella Club has attracted aristocrats, dignitaries, and celebrities—and served locally sourced food—since opening in the mid-1950s. While the Prince’s menus consisted of homemade stews using local produce, today it embraces tradition with the Andalusian spirit woven through authentic amenities and restaurants. Walk through the onsite botanical garden to see the flourishing orange, lemon, avocado, fig, and banana trees, then head to MC Beach, a restaurant inspired by Malaga’s traditional chiringuitos (laid-back seafood restaurants), with dishes like salt-encrusted sea bass, squid ink paella, and spicy shrimp al pil-pil.
For something heartier, try The Grill, where ingredients sourced from Marbella markets are cooked over an open fire and seasonal tasting menus focus on asparagus, wild game, and more. There’s also La Bodega, where you can taste local wines in a private dining room, and the Garden Pool, which serves delicious Andalusian fare. Says general manager Julián Cabanillas, “Our guests are looking for authenticity and giving them a sense of place and a link to the land is a huge factor in that. Our hotel cannot be replicated anywhere else, and we strive for our food offering to reflect that.”
Discover the Mediterranean way of eating
Perched on a cliff near St. Tropez—and just a five-minute walk via a pine tree trail to the wild, sandy Gigaro Beach—Lily of the Valley is surrounded by pristine nature. In fact, the hotel was designed by Philippe Starck to perfectly match the surrounding landscape, with no buildings taller than the trees. Here, guests find a tranquil retreat, complete with three restaurants and bars, two pools, an acclaimed wellness center, and a new beach club opening next summer based on the best of Italian gastronomy. Designed around healthy eating, all cuisine on offer is made with produce from nearby farms and mills and highlights Mediterranean flavors. Through his dishes, chef Vincent Maillard shares the stories of local farmers, fishermen, and gardeners, respecting both the seasons and authenticity while celebrating “this beautiful region set between land and sea,” as Lily of the Valley owner Lucie Weill describes.
Beyond the restaurants at Lily of the Valley, guests can get a taste of the French Riviera through a variety of exclusive experiences. Spend time with market gardener, Yann Mernard, in the nearby Piboule Garden, learning about seasonal vegetables, herbs, and flowers, or visit a family-owned olive oil mill and sample the blend made exclusively for Lily of the Valley. You could also set sail with local fishermen in the middle of the night to cast your lines in Cavalaire Bay (the hotel chef will gladly cook whatever you catch upon your return), or stop into La Domaine Murennes winery, where organic vintages are served alongside local dishes like fried wattle flowers, green ravioli, and wild shoots salad.
Luxuriate in liquid gold
In Savalletri di Fasano, where the hills of the Itria Valley roll into the Adriatic Sea, sits Borgo Egnazia, inspired by the shapes, materials, and colors of a typical Puglian village. From the traditional homemade breakfasts to the gift shop selling local foods, ceramics, and handicrafts, everything here embodies the spirit of the surrounding countryside. Nowhere is this truer than at the onsite La Frasca restaurant, where every dish is seasoned with the “liquid gold of Apulia,” also known as extra virgin olive oil. More than half of the vegetables on the menu grow in the hotel’s own fields, while other ingredients come from small local farmers, who use traditional, organic methods. “We tell stories about our land through our food,” says Aldo Melpignano, owner and managing director of Borgo Egnazia. “We love to support the local producers.”
The chefs at Borgo even rely on recipes handed down from generation to generation, serving them alongside locally produced wine. If you’d rather try your own hand at cooking, head to La Mia Cucina, the hotel’s restaurant based on an Apulian home kitchen. Take one of the cooking classes on offer and learn to prepare local dishes with seasonal ingredients, or simply indulge in the pizza, which is made with only the best Slow Food ingredients and baked in a typical wood-burning oven.
Time travel to deliciousness
Nestled on 300 acres in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, Borgo Santo Pietro occupies an 800-year-old farmhouse, which once served as a stopover for medieval pilgrims. Today, it’s a five-star boutique hotel and estate, with Michelin-starred restaurants, a brick wine cellar, and an extensive working farm. The farm itself goes far beyond gardens to include an artisan cheesemaking dairy, two vineyards, and 100 acres of pastureland; there are also orchards (with a 100-year-old pear tree that’s the only one of its kind left in the Chiusdino territory), nut fields, and even resident pigs.
Each day, farmers collect milk from Borgo’s more than 300 sheep to make fresh yogurt and cheeses like ravaggiolo, primo sale, and ricotta, while other employees tend to the free-range chickens, honey bees, and alpacas. At the vineyard, winemakers are working on creating a self-sustainable estate, growing grapes for everything from sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon to chardonnay and viognier. Guests eager for a taste of it all can dine at the acclaimed Meo Modo restaurant, or participate in hands-on classes, courses, and workshops at the Borgo Cooking School, which encourages students to forage on the estate to create their meal.