Looking for a unique place to hit the hay—quite literally—on your next getaway? Consider a farm stay, a type of property whose farms, gardens, and down-home ambiance are a main draw for guests. The trend, which has been going strong in Europe and elsewhere overseas for years, has gained more momentum in the United States as of late, with more property owners opening their (barn) doors for guests with a variety of interests, from wine to gastronomy to old-fashioned family fun. Here, our picks for seven great farms stays all over the world.
Great for Upscale Travelers: Royalla Luxury Farmstay, New South Wales, Australia
Just two hours from Sydney, this swanky spot offers a bucolic yet luxurious escape from the bustle of city life. Three separate buildings—the Farmhouse, Om Barn, and Loveshack—boast a rustic-yet-chic aesthetic (no fussy lace curtains here), as well as upscale extras like iPod docking stations and DVS players (rooms from $212/night midweek, with two-night minimum). In the morning, dig into a hearty breakfast of eggs (which you can even collect yourself), bacon, fresh bread, homemade preserves, and honey before embarking on seasonal activities such as potato harvesting, blackberry picking, and caring for baby animals in the spring. When the weather turns chilly, unwind with a glass of Shiraz by an open fire, or, for a guaranteed throwback to your childhood days, hop onto the tire swing.
Insider Tip: You’ll find plenty to keep you as busy (or relaxed) as you like on property, but outside excursions abound nearby: horseback riding, exploring some of Australia’s most splendid national parks, farmers’ markets, waterfalls, and a cozy pub in the local hotel of the nearby town of Burrawang.
Book It: Visit Royalla Luxury Farmstay
Great for Families: Warborne Farm, Lymington, England
Several years ago, the Heathcote family, the owners of this 180-acre organic farm in the beautiful New Forest National Park, was featured on Discovery Channel program "The Farm Life." But there are no oversized reality show egos here; instead, George and Kate have raised their three children in an environment where everybody "mucks in" with tasks on the farm, which has livestock including sheep, ducks, geese, and even chinchillas, plus hundreds of varieties of fruits and veggies, from melons to cauliflower to corn. Guests are also encouraged to get their hands dirty if they like, making downtime in the cheerful, comfortable accommodations in converted, 170-year-old barns even more relaxing. Both barns sleep up to six guests (from about $760/week), with cozy kitchens and airy sitting rooms, and additional sleeping lofts that agile kids will love clambering into.
Insider Tip: For a relaxed, off-property excursion, mingle with locals over pints and traditional pub fare at the family-friendly East End Arms, and keep your eye out for owner John Illsley, former bassist for Dire Straits.
Book It: Visit Warborne Farm
Great for Wine Lovers: Abbey Road Farm Bed & Breakfast, Carlton, Oregon
Soak up some world-class Pinot Noirs—as well as the hospitality expertise of two Las Vegas industry veterans—at this bucolic beauty in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. After years in Sin City’s frenetic hospitality industry, owners John and Judi Stuart envisioned a slower pace of life; now, their idyllic B&B offers guests, especially oenophiles, a home base for wine-tasting, live music, and simply strolling the beautiful grounds along with the resident goats and chickens. Swanky guest rooms (from $175/night) are situated in three converted grain silos, with upscale touches like radiant floor heat and Jacuzzi tubs. More than 200 wineries are within a half-hour’s drive (staff can help with recommendations), or simply savor a glass under the white oak trees while mingling with other guests.
Insider Tip: The bell for a hearty farm breakfast rings at 8:30 am sharp, so early risers may need to set the alarm clock (though the roosters may do the job for you).
Book It: Visit Abbey Road Farm Bed & Breakfast
Great for Beach Bums: Holualoa Inn, Holualoa, Hawaii
To take advantage of pristine, pre-dawn surf conditions at popular beaches on Hawaii’s Big Island, caffeine is a must-have—and where better to indulge in a jolt of high-quality java than a working coffee estate? Perched 1,400 feet above sea level on Mount Hualalai in the Kona Coffee Belt, this gorgeous inn is located on 30 lush acres bursting with tropical fruit trees like papaya, avocado, and pineapple, flower gardens, and more than 5,100 Kona Coffee trees. Down the mountain, magnificent beaches abound with white, black, gray, and even green sand, and watersports like diving, kayaking, and snorkeling (the inn rents equipment). When you’ve had your fill of sun and surf, retreat to the cooler temperatures of the inn, where well-appointed guest rooms (from $149/night) and verandas with stunning Pacific views beckon for relaxation.
Insider Tip: Active-duty military receive 10 percent off a minimum two-night stay, plus complimentary champagne and chocolate-covered Hawaiian macadamias.
Book It: Visit Holualoa Inn
Great for Gourmands: Eckington Manor Cookery School and Farm, Worcestershire, England
At this lovely hybrid of a farm, B&B, and cooking school spanning 260 acres on the River Avon, guests are encouraged to jump into the process "from garden fork to dinner fork." The working farm breeds award-winning herds of Aberdeen Angus and Highland cattle, plus sheep and Gloucester Old Spot pigs, and it operates under a government-issued, environmentally sensitive policy. Aspiring chefs can hone their culinary chops with classes like knife skills and bread-making; ingredients for the cookery school and the excellent restaurant often are often sourced on-site. Each of the 15 elegant rooms (from about $200/night), meanwhile, offers an authentic taste of English country life, with restored antique furniture, antler chandeliers, and Mulberry throws.
Insider Tip: The three rooms in the Milking Parlour, which once served as the milking area for the farm’s cattle, have unique features such as cast iron stoves, free-standing baths, and even a cinema system in one of the rooms.
Book It: Visit Eckington Manor Cookery School and Farm
Great for Animal Lovers: Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, New York
Overnight guests at this 175-acre rural oasis in the Finger Lakes region, which has two other locations in California, can expect to make furry and feathered friends such as cows, chickens, and sheep, who are routinely rescued from slaughterhouses, factory farming, and other grim situations. Three barn-red guest cabins (from $110/night for non-members of the nonprofit Farm Sanctuary) feature basic but comfortable furnishings with a vegan continental breakfast included. A guided tour of the property is also included for guests, who are welcome to pitch in with various tasks, too. Talk about an inspiring way to, er, paws and refresh.
Insider Tip: The sanctuary is located in some of New York’s most beautiful countryside, with stunning gorges and waterfalls, miles of hiking trails, and other natural gems; wineries are abundant, too.
Book It: Visit Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen
Great for Couples: Damali Bed & Breakfast, British Columbia, Canada
You’ll find—or rediscover—love among the lavender fields of this enchanting French-style farmhouse B&B in Cowichan Valley, in the heart of Vancouver Island’s wine country. Nearly a decade ago, the property was a run-down sheep farm; today, it encompasses fields with more than 25 varieties of lavender, a winery with wines featuring lavender as an ingredient, and an intimate B&B. Two guest rooms are all about cozy comfort (from $145/night), with wool-filled duvets, infrared saunas, and views of the gardens. Savor a delicious breakfast of farm-fresh eggs, home-grown fruits and veggies, and freshly baked goods before a relaxing day of wine tasting or exploring the grounds, which also include a labyrinth in the lavender fields.
Insider Tip: Lavender is in full bloom during July, and throughout the summer and fall, the property hosts several events and festivals—so book early to ensure availability.
Book It: Visit Damali Bed & Breakfast
Photo credits: Royalla Farmstay courtesy of Royalla Luxury Farmstay; Warborne Farm courtesy of Unique Photography/Warborne Farm; Cogi Farm courtesy of Cogi Farm; Eckington Manor, Cookery School and Farm courtesy of Eckington Manor Accommodation & Cookery; Abbey Road Farm courtesy of Abbey Road Farm; Holualoa Inn courtesy of Otter Rock Films, Inc./Holualoa Inn; Damali courtesy of Damali Farms.