We had some great restaurants and things to experience in 2023! Last week, we shared our personal favorite hotels that we visited in 2023. This week, we are sharing some of our favorite dining experiences, activities and tours we took over the past year.
All of the things we propose to our clients are things we have personally done ourselves. Tours we have taken, restaurants we dine at, places we visit again and again. We know first hand that these are the best, and we are confident to recommend them to our clients when designing a tailor made holiday.
Read on for our top experiences, dining or otherwise, in 2023!
Megan, our founder and luxury travel expert, shares her favorite dining experience- Gostner Schwaige
We were staying at the lovely Alpina Dolomite in Alpe di Siusi and they recommended a nice, easy hike for us – and a “do not miss” spot for lunch.
A “malga” is a mountain hut that serves (normally) simply produced from their own animals and garden. When we first arrived at Gostner Schwaige, it had the wonderful appeal of a country home. Lovely wooden tables and benches on a panoramic terrace and indoor and outdoor seating.
A big appeal of this area is the meshing of two very different cultures which leads to a fun exchange of dialogue and an even better mix of gastronomy! There is a mixture of German, Ladin (a seperate language spoken in the area) and Italian. We ordered first, a salad of local cheeses, arugula and flowers. To follow, a plate of 4 different Tyrolean dumplings (“knödel” in German, “canederli” in Italian) with local beer. Finally, of course, their special dumplings for dessert.
It doesn’t sound like much, but we were mesmerized by the plating and had been surpassed by just how good everything tasted! The 4 dumplings had been made from different grains, wheat and oatmeal. Each was filled with various local items. To start, speck, onions and cheese. Another one with minced vegetables and flowers. Continuing, one of the oatmeal dumplings came with a strong cheese and also berries which balanced out what could have been over the top strong. Finally, one with buckwheat, a smoother cheese, and truffles – OUT OF THIS WORLD! Dessert was more dumplings but I could not resist. These were all oatmeal with local herbs and flowers with fresh strawberry purée. It was my favorite dining experience in 2023!
Kate, our sales and luxury travel specialist, shares her favorite experience
Scotland in October was an unexpected surprise. The country is usually best experienced in the spring and summer, for the days of longer sunlight, less rainy days, and green landscapes – and of course, the Highland Games. However, mid-October had its own charms. First of all, fewer tourists were to be found all around the country, so there were fewer people in the main sites and on the roads. I could ramble around the castles without feeling rushed and enjoy some of the local activities that you cannot take part in during the summer months. Scotland is a moody country and, personally, I believe that its landscapes are most beautiful in the mist and low-laying autumn sunlight. Scottish food is heavy and their whiskies strong. It’s a country that has been made for the cooler temperatures.
A few things that I tried this time in the country were attending a cèilidh in Edinburgh (like a US square dance – or Highland Fling), visiting a cooperage (barrel makers for whisky), petting a ‘hairy coo’ (a small furry cow native to the Scottish Highlands) and simply getting to get to know the kind and hospitable Scottish people during a more relaxed time of year. The history is fascinating and the people are wonderful. In addition to being a fantastic summer destination, I would highly recommend Scotland as a charming shoulder season spot to visit.
Christine’s, our social media manager, shares her favorite restaurant of 2023: La Maison D’Arabe, Marrakech
This romantic restaurant is set in one of Marrakech’s most opulent riads. I visited Morocco this year on a girls trip with some of my best friends. We had our most special meal here. The setting is out of this world, candlelit elegance over a mirror pool, traditional soft music playing, and kind, quiet service. Like many place in Marrakech, alcohol is served, and the wine list is well stocked with local vineyards.
Since the 1940’s this restaurant has been serving Moroccan specialties, like tajine and couscous, with local specialties like pastilla. It’s all served in a setting that marries polished serviced and true Moroccan hospitality, all in an enchanting surrounding.
Kate’s favorite restaurant
My all-around best meal was in the Chiemgau region of Germany not that long ago, at the Das Achental Resort and Spa. This hotel is located in the Bavarian countryside between Munich and Salzburg. It caters to mostly German-speaking clients escaping the city during the warm summers. Their 4 restaurants are all top-notch as far as service. Also, the quality of their food (one of their restaurants even has 2 Michelin stars) is incredible. The menu is in German but the attentive and friendly staff all speak English. There are people at the ready to help you understand the menus and ingredients.
The Hubertushütte was my favorite. An authentic mountain hut disassembled and rebuilt on the grounds of Das Achental. In the summer it’s a cheery beer garden. However, on winter evenings, from Thursdays to Saturdays, it becomes a one-dish destination restaurant. That dish is fondue.
As soon as you enter, you will be seated at long wooden tables. A fireplace is burning in the corner, and the table soon becomes full of all kinds of breads, pickles, meats, salads, and condiments. Not to forget a bubbling pot of melted cheese.
One of my friends at the table had a cheese allergy. So, we also had a boiling caldron of meat broth in which to cook small pieces of raw vegetables, chicken, beef, meatballs. There was also shrimp that came from the lake nearby. Each diner had two long forks with a number on the end (I was number 3). As we waited for our meat to cook in the broth, we’d enjoy the cheese fondue with bread cubes or vegetables.
Not only was the food absolutely delicious and the service friendly and relaxed, but the conviviality of it all was special. Another plus was we didn’t have to travel to the top of a mountain to enjoy it. After stuffing ourselves with all that was offered to us – and sampling some of the schnapps, we just had to cross the hotel garden to return to our welcoming rooms.
Luigi, our head of Italian operations and vendor relations, shares his favorite experience: truffle hunting
Truffle hunting in Piedmont, Italy is an experience like no other! The rolling hills of Piedmont are a stunning backdrop to the age-old tradition of searching for the elusive truffle. The countryside is filled with truffle-rich forests. The experienced hunters know just where to look for the prized product, with the help of their trusty sidekicks. It’s a unique adventure that requires the skill and knowledge of the local hunters—each of whom has a deep understanding of their environment.
My experience was very nice and authentic, not prepared or faked at all. We went into a private forest with the guide and the dog (a Lagotto called Lea). We did find few truffles and the guide was very knowledgeable. He showed us how to dig in the ground with the specific tools. While you walk on the forest, in front of you, you have the full view of the Alps with the mountain Monviso. I was fascinated to learn it was the inspiration of the logo of Paramount.
The truffle hunting experience is an unforgettable one. You’ll learn about the local ecology and the habits of the truffle, as well as the different ways to find them. The hunters are friendly and knowledgeable, and they’re eager to share their secrets with you.
The Best of the Best
We hope our favorite restaurants and experiences gave you some travel inspiration for an upcoming trip. As residents of Europe, we have extensive knowledge and access to the continent allowing us to research, handpick our providers, and constantly stay in touch with the pulse of the countries we represent. These are some of our favorites of the past year!
Contact us today to start planning!