17 Working Farmstays and Agritourism Hotels

Get back to the land. Get off the grid. Dig your hands in the dirt. Your agrarian fantasies can come to life at these working farms and agritourism hotels around the world. Discover your inner Henry David Thoreau (or just relax in a beautiful place).

Via di Campestri, 19/22, 50039 Vicchio di Mugello FI, Italy
How tempting is it to run off to a rustic Tuscan villa? To just drive the rolling, vineyard- and olive grove–lined hills of Tuscany until you find the perfect one to painstakingly, lovingly restore, à la Under the Tuscan Sun, where you can produce your own olive oil and wine, grow your own vegetables, go for long bike rides in search of Etruscan ruins, and befriend the locals in the nearest village despite speaking nary a word of Italian? That’s pretty much what a stay at the Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort is like, except they’ve done the heavy lifting for you. The Pasquali family spent two years transforming the 17th-century villa, once the domain of the noble Florentine Roti Michelozzi family, into a rustic retreat and working olive oil farm. Now, guests can waltz in and lounge by the pool, take long walks through the orchards, sample the house olive oils, dine alfresco on fresh local cuisine, and learn to cook Tuscan specialties with the chef. The surrounding countryside is yours for the taking, with horseback riding, biking, and hiking excursions on nature trails up to Monte Giovi.
Livade, Croatia
On the steep hills above the truffle-obsessed town of Livade in central Istria, Croatia, a man named Vlado Tomažič makes olive oil on his family’s farm. When my husband and I rented the apartment, Casa Maršić (casamarsic.com), adjacent to the farmhouse, we found it the perfect base for exploring the nearby medieval hill towns. We visited Motovun-Montona and Oprtalj-Portole, where we ate fuži, traditional Istrian pasta, with fresh mushrooms and grilled lamb chops at the fantastic Tončić agritourism (agroturizam-toncic.com). We happened to be at the farm during the October harvest and helped Vlado’s friendly crew rake the olives from the trees, taking frequent breaks for gemišt—white wine and sparkling water. Classic Journeys offers seven-night tours of Istria. This appeared in the August/September 2014 issue.
Tierra Blanca, Heredia, Santa Bárbara, Costa Rica
Guests at this 13-room retreat in Costa Rica’s central highlands can tour the estate’s 36 acres of coffee fields. After the walk, try a “cupping,” or tasting, of the shade-grown organic blends. End with a soak in your suite’s jungle-view tub. From $250. (305) 395-3042

After a couple days resting up at The Retreat Costa Rica, I was off on my next adventure. Finca Rosa Blanca, which doubles as a boutique hotel and coffee plantation, proved the perfect setting for exploration both near and far. I stayed in the La Guaria junior suite—each has it’s own name—this one named after a local flower. Having come from New York where apartments are cramped, I was pleasantly surprised by the spacious layout of the villa. The entrance leads into a circular area, with sky lights above that form a sort of dome. There’s a separate kitchen and dining area, a bathroom complete with a whirlpool, and a separate bedroom featuring a kingsize bed. My favorite part of La Guaria were the two balconies. There’s a small one right off of the bedroom, where I’d usually listen to the rain falling hard against the roof in the afternoon. In the mornings and again in the evenings, I’d make myself a cup of coffee and catch up on my emails outside on the larger terrace. It overlooks a large grass farm, as well as the flowers that grow on the property.

Speaking of coffee, Finca Rosa Blanca, is also a coffee plantation. On my first full day at the hotel, I signed up for their guided coffee tour, where I learned the ins and outs of coffee-making in Costa Rica—things like how Arabic coffee is the only type of coffee grown here and how the blonder the roast, the more caffeine it has; I always assumed the opposite. Our tour group was small but we had a guest appearance by the finca’s two adopted dogs—aptly named Finca and Rosa. It’s a mother and daughter, and I loved watching them run around the plantation and play in the little waterfall separating one bank from the other. The second part of the tour was an actual coffee tasting, where we sampled a “good” cup of coffee and an “over roasted” cup. I was surprised how many flavors and aromas I could pick up despite always claiming that I have a poor sense of smell...and silently resolved to skip the milk and sugar next time.

As for the food and lounge areas, there are some really creative spots. The El Tigre Vestido restaurant has both outdoor and indoor seating; I mostly ate in their open-air sections but definitely took advantage of the fire crackling in the evenings. It can get a little chilly there at night. On my last full day at Finca Rosa Blanca, I went all out. First up was a scenic (and very uncrowded) hike to Barva volcano. I learned that, while a national park, it’s one of Costa Rica’s hidden secrets. There were few tourists along our path, allowing us to feel like we had wandered into an enchanted forest out of a story book. Back at the finca, I indulged at their spa, with their Pura Vida Coffee Detox Package: a Swedish full-body massage, a coffee and chocolate body scrub and a refreshing facial. After a challenging hike that morning, it was just what the doctor ordered. Fun fact: There’s some great art here and I’m not just talking about the murals on the walls (there are some super colorful ones at the pool); One of the owners, Glenn, is an artist by trade and he designed all the metal work seek throughout the property, right here on-site.
Calçada do Combro 58, 1200-123 Lisboa, Portugal
Much of Lisbon’s appeal lies in its sheer beauty. From the rust-toned rooftops across the whitewashed Alfama district to the Pombaline architecture of Baixa, the city is very easy on the eyes. For the very best views, head skyward to Park Bar, located on the rooftop of a Bairro Alto parking garage. There, you’ll find a just-trendy-enough mix of scenester residents and tourists, sipping on white-port-and-tonics while enjoying expansive vistas from the Tagus River to the bell towers of Santa Catarina Church.
1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001, USA
Set in a historic Beaux-Arts building, The NoMad exudes European sophistication while maintaining a distinct New York edge. Located in the changing north of Madison Square Park neighborhood, this design-centric property opened its doors in 2012. French designer Jacques Garcia was inspired by the Paris apartment of his youth. Rooms are comfortable and timeless, with original artwork. This hotel brings back pleasures of another era, from freestanding claw-foot tubs in the rooms to a bar and restaurant that entice guests to stay under the hotel roof. Start an evening with a drink in the Library (reserved exclusively for hotel guests after 4 p.m.) then dine in the acclaimed NoMad restaurant, where you are certain to rub elbows with New Yorkers—this property has completely won over the locals.
90 De Korte St, Johannesburg, 2017, South Africa
If you’re lucky enough to live in a place as magical as South Africa, you get some amazing sunrises & sunsets most mornings & evenings. What’s great about living in Johannesburg is that you get to experience the magic while overlooking an amazing city! With rooftop venues opening up all over the inner city, catching such a magnificent view, while sipping on cocktails and listening to some soulful live music with your friends is getting so much easier!
Włodowo 27, 11-008 Włodowo, Poland
The Polish lake district, in the northeast of the country (known as the Warmia/Masuria province), is an agrarian wonderland. There are more than 2,000 lakes in the region, and it’s a popular weekend getaway for Warsovians. Opened in 2015, Kwaśne Jabłko, in a tiny village called Włodowo, is a friendly, beautiful place to spend some lake district days. A working farm and apple cider production facility, the guesthouse is run by a young couple with two children. (In fact, the place is incredibly kid-friendly.) Rooms are spacious and beautifully designed, with spare, rustic furnishings and slate-tiled bathrooms. Hearty breakfasts and dinners, served around the long communal table that opens out to a big deck, are prepared by Marcin and Ewa with fresh-from-the-garden produce and local meat. Take home some of their apple cider as a gift—they just started full production this year and hope to expand in the future, as you’ll see from the freshly planted apple orchard.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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