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It is impossible to think of offering a good experience in a restaurant without considering all aspects of good hospitality: from the moment the client steps in until the time he has come away with really warm and genuine happiness, every detail matters. In times when foodies are more and more seeking memorable and unforgettable experiences, food is no longer enough.
Service has been the focus of restaurants as the industry seems to re-discover the importance of hospitality, re-establishing the attention and care that has shaped this business during the last decades. With an eye to raising, even more, the experience of their patrons, chefs are surpassing the reception in their well-designed dining rooms to private rooms where the guests can spend the night – or even the following days, if they want.
Single Thread is a restaurant with an exclusive five-room inn and its own farm, located in Sonoma’s wine country, California. Run by chef Kyle Connaughton and his farmer wife Katina, the restaurant, named after the idea of “a single thread of hospitality,” follows omotenashi, the philosophy of Japanese hospitality, in which a host tries his best to anticipate guests’ needs.
Surrounded by a piece of land where they produce from all the vegetables they use in the kitchen to the flowers that adorn their tables (gathered by Katina every morning), the couple has created a whole intimate and warm atmosphere to welcome guests willing for a transforming food experience. “We love the act of making people happy, and giving people a good experience”, Kyle says. The couple is also in charge of taking guests to their rooms since there is no reception to proceed with formal check-in.
“This is naturally like what we feel in our hearts. It wasn’t a business decision. Our favorite thing to do is to have people in our home and cook for them, and take care of people”, he adds. Much of the concept of Japanese hospitality followed by them in openness and transparency emerged from the experience the couple had in the eastern country (they lived more than 2.5 years in Japan) and pays tribute to ancient Japanese inns known as ryokans. “It’s essential in Japan to convey the moment and the season. Everything you see in the restaurant, from the dishes to the flowers have this very sense of moment and time we want to share with our visitors”.
The 3-Michelin starred restaurant (which, in 2017, won the World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ “One to Watch” award) serves elegant dishes in an 11-course tasting menu that rely on locally grown ingredients sourced at their peak by Katina. “We spend more time at the restaurant than we spend in our home, so the restaurant is truly our home, and we want that our guests feel just the same way”, Katina explains. "By opening the doors to people, we really want them to feel connected with the environment, nature, and our surrounding, not only with our food", she concludes.
El Celler de Can Roca
Next summer, El Celler de Can Roca is also set to open an inn for visitors coming from all over the world to visit the award-winning Roca brothers’ restaurant in Girona, Spain. With 15 comfortable rooms, the aim is to close the Roca-style hospitality cycle that begins (or ends) in the restaurant.
“Our goal is to take the essence of the service that we try to embrace inside the restaurant. In Can Roca, we have been very nonconformists, always seeking a possible way to improve our approach to serving. And that's what we want to extend to the hotel”, says Joan Roca. He explains it is a personal project (without big groups investments) that will be run by his wife, Anna Payet. “It’s a familiar hotel”, he says.
The hotel, located in the historic center of Girona, in Catalunya Square, will also have a terrace overlooking the city. On the ground floor, Jordi Roca will run a chocolate studio that seeks to bring cocoa beans from different parts of the world that he discovered and selected from his travels to major producing countries visiting communities that produce high-quality beans.
“It's an open laboratory and shop where people can watch the whole process of turning beans into chocolate, visit and buy chocolates. Upstairs, guests can stay in a space that we created with all the affection and where we have been working hard to offer high-level hospitality, the same we try to pursue in our restaurant”, he adds.
Located in the north side of mont Igueldo, in Basque Country, facing the Cantabric Sea, Akelarre, the restaurant run by acclaimed chef Pedro Subijana, has one of the most beautiful views in the North of Spain and serves one of the most pleasant food experiences in San Sebastián (a city that hosts dozens of great pintxo bars and many fine-dining restaurants, what has made it a major food destination in the world).
Taking advantage of the privileged geographic position, Subijana though it would be a good idea to built some rooms in the top of the hill where his guests could extend the visit. Wrapping the building that hosts his famous 3-Michelin-star restaurant, five stone cubicles emerge from the hillside of the mountain towards the sea, containing twenty-two rooms over two levels.
Designed in natural materials including stone, wood, and linen to respect the surrounding nature, the homonymous hotel is integrated by carved-in-stone terraces with gardened areas with views of the horizon. More than the restaurant itself, Subijana is also in charge of all the food served in the Oteiza snack bar and all room service menu, giving guests the chance to taste other casual dishes created by him.
The stunning space also boasts a wine cellar that can be used as a tasting room and as a store with many selected bottles, divided by curved glass. “We wanted to elevate the offering of our restaurant with the complete experience of five-star accommodation and all the comforts one would expect from a luxury hotel", Subijana says. “It's a hotel with his own three-star restaurant. Few others in the world can brag about that", he concludes.
Casa Maria Luigia
In the upcoming spring, chef Massimo Bottura and his wife, Laura Gilmore, are also set to open their very exclusive inn in the Emilia-Romagna countryside. Casa Maria Luigia is a 12-room stone house located in a 12-acre property in San Damasio, a province of Modena, that boasts a swimming pool, tennis court and a kitchen to serve breakfast and other light meals for the guests.
The space used to be the couple's comfort during holidays and will be soon open for those who want to rest nearby after having dinner in Osteria Francescana, this year's No. 1 restaurant according to the World's 50 Best list - booking a room there will make a table reservation tab the restaurant easier. "The idea is to keep people entertained even in the damp winter months, just enjoying this cozy old house with a lot of eclectic art in it", Gilmore said to Wall Street Journal magazine.