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It’s being called this year’s hygge, the Danish trend that embraced all things cozy. The latest aesthetic Internet craze is cottagecore, a romanticized version of pastoral homeyness that seems a definite response to trying to make our lockdown lives warmer. Think raising chickens, baking sourdough, throwing pottery, and picking wildflowers. Essentially, if your great-grandma did it, and Taylor Swift is currently into it (post-Folklore), it’s probably cottagecore. While making jam or candles, quilting, crafting, creative writing, and foraging aren’t necessarily the first things that come to mind on luxurious holidays, this kind of sweet nostalgia seems so healing now and, for some, exactly what is needed this fall and winter. Here, 11 high-end havens where the vibe is decidedly quaint—yet plenty opulent—and the activities on offer tap into your crafty, nature-loving self.
Goodstone Inn, Middleburg, Virginia
This 255-acre property of rolling hills amid horse and wine country an hour from Washington, D.C. makes for a pretty charming escape from lockdown monotony. Guests need not stay within the confines of their elegant, antique-filled country estate cottages, instead they can visit the working farm, where Black Angus cattle, Icelandic and Suffolk sheep, a flock of hens, and thoroughbred horses roam. Executive Chef Jan Van Haute can take visitors on a guided hike to spot wildlife including many bird species and the resident llama, and visits to the beehive and estate manager for high-level gardening tips. Otherwise set out on a bike path or trail, or in a canoe on Goose Creek, to soak up more of Mother Nature’s bounty.
Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont
Set on 300 acres of pristine woodlands, lush mountains and wildflowers, the exclusive, adults-only Eden known as Twin Farms—an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property—is about as cottagecore as it gets. Guests can forage for their own tea from the herb gardens or take things further by foraging with Executive Chef Nathan Rich for produce to use in a farm-to-table cooking class in his kitchen. There’s a new picnic deck, tucked between trees, for menu-less dining experiences immersed in nature. Between sledding, canoeing and forest bathing, guests can take an indoor painting class by the fire, and take a Bee Tour with the resident apiarist to learn all about their pollen to pallet process. By night there are hot tubs in the whimsical, art-filled cottages (try the Orchard Cottage, in an apple orchard under a massive spruce), handcrafted Stave jigsaw puzzles and wine and cheese around a raging fire.
Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara, California
The timeless Santa Barbara resort Belmond El Encanto, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property with its Pacific Ocean panoramas, is an idyllic place to connect with the great outdoors and, when the fresh air gets to be too much, retreat into a charming cottage equipped with a fireplace, mini library of books, locally carved furniture and a writing desk that promises to turn back the clock when you begin letter-writing on the signature stationary. Seven acres of gardens allow for lots of leisurely lollygagging through flowers, trees, and around a wisteria-framed pond, as well as artisanal picnics by the wishing well, bocce ball, and croquet. Fall brings the Monarch butterfly migration which, along with cranes and woodpeckers flitting about, is all the entertainment needed during afternoon tea.
Chatham Bars Inn, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
The quaint rooms and suites at Chatham Bars Inn, another American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, on a quarter-mile private beach on Cape Cod, are spread across 30 buildings on the 25-acre property, which includes an eight-acre farm. A recent $100 million renovation has brought the 1914 luxury hunting lodge into the 21st century, while holding onto its breezy charm. Pick fresh blooms for a flower-arranging class and lesson on edible flowers with the farm manager and a local florist, have a private picnic basket lunch, or hop aboard the mahogany boat dubbed Bar Tender to the outer beach, a private feeling escape that’s the perfect hunting ground for seashell souvenirs. Meanwhile, watch for updates on the weekly culinary classes teaching soups and sauces, cookies and tea cakes, that were offered pre-pandemic and may soon return in some modified way.
Ojai Valley Inn, Ojai, California
Beloved California favorite Ojai Valley Inn’s The Farmhouse, opened in 2019, is the place to learn cottagecore-worthy culinary skills. There are pastry classes titled The Art of Macarons, fresh pasta making, wine seminars, and holiday cookie–making sessions. Beyond that, guests of the sprawling, bucolic resort and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property can get creative during the daily Open Studio session (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) at the Artist’s Cottage on property, where fall activities include Harvest Moon Candle Making, using fragrances like cedarwood, frankincense and violet leaf. For the ultimate in plush charm, try the new Spa Penthouse Suites, with their sweeping views, handmade wool rugs and deep soaking bathtubs.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee
A whopping 4,200 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee is where guests of the Relais & Chateaux property indulge in gourmet getaways in heavenly accommodations with names such as Farmstead Cottage, Carriage House Suite, and Singing Brook, with plenty of fireplaces, stonework, and original art. Amid vast pastures and forest are opportunities to interact with Farmstead artisans and guides, from gardeners to preservationists, who illuminate all the workings of the agricultural destination—cooking, heirloom gardens, Lagotto Romagnolo dog breeding, bird watching and all. Visit the Garden Shed to learn the Appalachian ways and maybe snag a couple special seeds, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride past mountain streams. Adventurous guests can even learn how to drive it, from harnessing up the horses to ambling around the property.
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana
It may not be as cutesy as it is cool, and it’s a bit more Annie Oakley than Anne of Green Gables, but there’s nothing as cozy and homey as enjoying an exclusive, 10-square-mile slice of Mother Nature’s finest work all blanketed in fresh snow. Get spa treatments in a Conestoga covered wagon, sleep in the Bluebird Cabin’s canopied bed and relax in its clawfoot tub and cedar sauna. Try your hand in a Paint & Sip painting class with the artist in residence, take a private guided photography workshop, ride horses under the big, open sky, and get dirty mining for sapphires. Along with indulging in world-class Relais & Chateaux–endorsed cuisine at this American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, offered in venues from the Buckle Barn (the site of barn dances, too) to Piney Pond, guests also can go on a ride along with a rancher (and maybe check on newborn calves) and take a frontier skills course, which imparts the kind of wilderness survival skills that any cottagecore fan should know.
The Roundtree, Amagansett, New York
This 15-room luxury boutique hotel is not seasonal, as one might expect in the Hamptons, but fully embraces fall and winter coziness, especially the locally grown produce available in harvest season. Its five standalone cottages and suites in a 100-year-old barn celebrate the property’s farmsteading origins, though it’s mere minutes from the village of Amagansett and the Atlantic Ocean’s white sand beach on the basket-studded beach cruisers. There are all sorts of ways to indulge in homey vibes, from hot chocolate and teatime to in-room meditation and s’mores making over a fire pit.
Half-Mile Farm by Old Edwards, Highlands, North Carolina
Don your artisan cable knit sweater and hiking boots to explore 14 acres of forests and fields, streams, and lakes in the Blue Ridge Mountains at this charming country bed and breakfast, with a luxury twist. The adults-only property’s rustic-luxe guest rooms and cabins are each unique, with fireplaces and balconies for taking in Apple Lake and the tree-filled landscape. Days can be filled with private art lessons in your cabin, canoeing on the lake and picnicking. A crackling fire greets guests, along with s’mores makings, bubbly and a basket of produce from Old Edwards’ farms. Come 2021 there will be even more interactive cottagecore-worthy activities on tap, including plant pop-ups and candle-making workshops.
MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa, Sonoma, California
With its historic Victorian architecture, rose gardens, and farmhouse-style cottages with outdoor showers, tubs, and wood-burning fireplaces, this wine country hotel will charm the hand-knit socks off any traveler seeking serenity alongside a dose of crafty fun. Visit the Tuesday night farmer’s market in town on an e-bike, try a DIY hand treatment using organic rooibos tea, and take a wine-fueled art walk for two at The Donum Estate. A new partnership with Tappan Collective offers guests opportunities to meet artists—in socially distanced settings, naturally—during art talks and creative workshops, during which they can make a piece of their own.
The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Montana
If you make it in the fall, this luxury ranch’s 37,000 acres of resort and 100 miles of trails might just be a kaleidoscope of autumn foliage, and by winter it should be coated in snow. It’s a prime place for DIYers and nature lovers to enjoy a bounty of outdoor activities (think fly-fishing, sporting clays, boating and mountain biking) and also creative pursuits, like one-off cooking events with special events, like learning baking and live fire cooking. Wilderness Workshops programming includes a rustic ring-making class led by a painter and jewelry designer who inspires guests to wire-wrap their own bead- or gem-studded ring, and a series of family-friendly Gettin’ Primitive courses that involve practicing knot tying, edible plant identification and longbow archery.