In Rome, have a sleepover at Ninù’s

Dinner in the library at Ninù in Rome
Dinner in the library at Ninù in Rome © Livia Mucchi

Now that the sold-out, standing-room-only summer that was 2023 in Rome is finally (finally) winding down, there’s space to roam, see the sights, and generally breathe. And eat; the fact that late October-early November happens to be one of the city’s finest food moments – with chicory in rainbow shades, porcini done every which way, and as much puntarelle as you can handle – is a nice off-season fillip. Opened just in time to offer sweet and characterful accommodation is Ninù, a restaurant-with-rooms on the Via della Frezza. It sits quite literally in the shadow of the monumental Bulgari Rome hotel, but the two propositions couldn’t be more different. Ninù is interior designer Alessandra Marino’s platonic ideal of a good stay. It also happens to be her former residence; and with its meandering ground floor spaces – a library (with 9,000 books), terrace and living room dining, a small greenhouse and a cozy bar – it is, by design, more home vibes than hotel ones. Even the palazzo’s original small kitchen has been incorporated into the restaurant, as a space hosting a marble chef’s table that seats 12.

A quiet corner in Ninù’s bar
A quiet corner in Ninù’s bar © Livia Mucchi
A dish of Chitarrina nera with cuttlefish
A dish of Chitarrina nera with cuttlefish © Livia Mucchi

The overall look could be characterised as “posh Italian salvage”: some objects and furniture found at market, others brought back from the far corners of the earth, with contemporary and primitive art from Marino’s own collection mixed in, all to extremely tasteful effect. Upstairs are two rooms and one suite, each with its own colour palette and unique rooftop views (the suite has its own planted terrace as well). The restaurant majors in modern takes on Mediterranean seafood classics: the spaghetti alle vongole is embellished with black garlic and bottarga, and the tuna sashimi comes with bagna cauda, pistachio and lime., from €400

A tasteful Tokyo stay in a hot-spring suburb

A guest room at Aubege Tokito in Tama, western Tokyo
A guest room at Aubege Tokito in Tama, western Tokyo

Tama, a suburban city in the western reaches of Tokyo stretching over into Kanagawa Prefecture, is probably best known for Sanrio Puroland, the theme park and spiritual home of Hello Kitty fandom. But its greenery, relative tranquillity, and public hot springs attract plenty of grown-ups as well. It’s here that late last Spring Michelin-laurelled chefs Yoshinori Ishii and Kenji Okawara opened Auberge Tokito, a culinary “platform” and experience.

Outside Auberge Tokito’s guest rooms
Outside Auberge Tokito’s guest rooms
A dish of flaked yellowfin tuna and bamboo shoots at Auberge Tokito
A dish of flaked yellowfin tuna and bamboo shoots at Auberge Tokito

The omakase menus, at table and counter, can be paired with fine wines or sakes – or you can choose from a selection of teas (there’s also a separate lounge dedicated to tea ceremonies). But the interesting part is the hospitality: four luxe suites, none smaller than 106sq m, with open-air bathrooms and kakenagashi plunge pools fed directly by the hot springs. The design is sleek and coddling, with polished woods and stone alongside the tatami and crisp neutral cottons and linens. The whole can be taken over for celebrations, with Ishii standing by to create bespoke banquet dinners., from about £1,880 for two including table omakase dinner

A remade perennial in the Napa Valley

Breakfast on the porch of a cottage room at Meadowood
Breakfast on the porch of a cottage room at Meadowood © Courtesy of Meadowood Lodge Napa Valley

Meadowood, opened in 1961 in the Napa Valley town of St Helena, is different things to different people. Some of them are members of the private club, with its social events calendar, fitness centre-pool complex and five tennis courts. Others are fans of its 36 California-country rooms and suites, layered in earthy colours and painted timber, many with big stone fireplaces and outdoor soaking tubs. But most everyone who comes, whether from down the street or across an ocean, knows: Meadowood is one of the best dining experiences in the Valley – already a place with an absurdly high incidence of Michelin stars (of which the Restaurant at Meadowood had three) and accolades.

Meadowood’s trio of swimming pools
Meadowood’s trio of swimming pools © Courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley
The dining room at Meadowood Forum
The dining room at Meadowood Forum © Courtesy of Meadowod Napa Valley

In 2020 the Glass Fire tore across it, burning native pine forest and entire buildings. Meadowood has been steadily rebuilding and renovating since: in August 2021, the rooms and suites came back online; in 2022, owners Bill Harlan (he of the Harlan Estate cult cabernets) and Stanley Kroenke received planning permissions for an ambitious expansion. Christopher Kostow, the chef behind those three stars, is manning the kitchen full-time at The Charter Oak, his (excellent) place in town, while the Restaurant at Meadowood will reopen, it’s hoped, at some point in 2024. In the meantime, though, there are its two other very good eateries: Forum, the indoor-outdoor all day venue (carnitas Benedict for breakfast – or lunch, or late-night nosh? Sign us up), and on the Terrace, with a quintessentially Californian menu: poke bowls and quinoa salads, shrimp tacos and, natch, a secret-sauce burger., from $1,200

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