The appetite for culinary travel has never been stronger, with Virtuoso’s 2024 Luxe Report showing that 70 per cent of its luxury travel advisors have seen an increase in demand, as 20 per cent of clients book trips with food and wine as the main focus. As such, all eyes are on the destinations and hotels providing elevated and unique gastronomic experiences for guests.
From immersive foodie experiences in Istria and Tunisia, to hotels offering exceptional dining in Greece and Turkey, here are some of the finest destinations to savour in 2024.
According to Virtuoso, 53 per cent of those prioritising gastronomic experiences during their travels look for hyper-local, neighbourhood-to-table dining. In Istria, the heart-shaped peninsula in northern Croatia, visitors are immersed in the unique culinary landscape, from tasting the local Malvasia wines in one of Europe’s oldest winemaking regions to discovering unique olive oils produced from Roman-era olive trees and produced by local families for generations.
Perhaps the most celebrated Istrian produce is the truffle, being one of only two places in the world where the elusive white truffle grows within the soil of the ancient forests that cover the region. Head out with hunters such as the Prodan family, led by their trusty pack of dogs, in search of truffle, before cooking up delicious truffle dishes and learning about the history of this highly prized ingredient.
Stay at San Canzian Hotel and Residences for authentic Istrian heritage, rural architecture and modern local cuisine at the exceptional Luciano Restaurant. The hotel can organise wine, olive oil and truffle experiences. An overnight stay costs from €244 (approx. £210) per night, including breakfast.
Authenticity and cultural immersion are also high on the list, with the report highlighting that 87 per cent are seeking culinary experiences that offer genuine insight into the destination. In Tunisia, the sprawling maze of ancient streets and alleyways that form the Medina offer just that, with bustling cafes, pungent spice shops and street food stalls enveloping all the senses.
At The Residence Tunis, the prestigious beach hotel overlooking the Mediterranean, culinary enthusiasts are in for a treat, with a unique blend of traditional North African and international cuisine at four standout restaurants. El Dar offers the most authentic taste of the country, with the distinctive spiced flavours and scents of Tunisian dishes served alongside showstopping local belly dance performances. Don’t miss the daily traditional tea service that truly embodies Tunisian hospitality, plus the opportunity to enjoy a private, personalised dinner under a beautifully arranged canopy on the beach.
Stay at The Residence Tunis from £175 per night, including breakfast.
At Yazz Collective, the chic boutique retreat on Turkey’s glistening coast, executive chef Mustafa Otar curates extraordinary gastronomic experiences, drawing in the yacht set and cool creatives with seasonal dishes and sharing plates crafted with the finest local ingredients.
Accessible only by boat, the hotel is a destination in itself, inviting guests on a series of culinary journeys hosted by esteemed chefs and restaurants from all over the world, joining Otar for collaborative menu creations and wine pairings set to live music. Throughout the day, the relaxed restaurant perfectly encapsulates the essence of Yazz, with a menu of fresh seafood, organic meat and seasonal vegetables harvested from the resort’s gardens. Guests can also enjoy traditional dishes accompanied by mellow tunes from the hotel’s record collection played on vintage turntables at Yazz Unplugged, and bespoke cocktails at Yazz Craft Bar, nestled beneath a vibrant canopy of greenery.
Stay at Yazz Collective from £420 per night, including breakfast.
The lesser-known Greek town of Parga is a haven of exotic beaches, natural landscapes and traditional architecture, lined with quaint tavernas serving local favourites and fresh seafood. Gourmet lovers looking to embark on a culinary journey should stay at Parga Beach Resort, which is launching a calendar of new gourmet experiences for 2024, including culinary themed evenings and local flavour tastings.
Offering direct access to the beach, the resort’s seaside restaurant Thalassa serves up a delectable assortment of Greek specialties, while those seeking a fine dining experience should pay a visit to Alselēa to try its premium menu of Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist.
For an evening filled with food and dancing, special themed nights accompanied by live music take place every week, including a traditional Greek night comprising of a gourmet buffet of much-loved recipes and a BBQ night with mixed grill platters and zesty salads to cater to all tastebuds.
Stay at Parga Beach Resort from £116 per night, including breakfast.