As summer dissolves into fall, here’s how best to remain in denial: Steal away to a still-leafy, open-air enclave—ideally with great company, cocktails and comfort food.
Assuming you’ve got the company covered, we’ve taken care of the rest: Read on for 10 of the world’s best secret gardens, several of which serve up all manner of deliciousness well into the fall.
As any proper baronial estate, County Mayo's hotel has gardens to spare—whether formal or informal, terraced or fountained, or some combination thereof.
But one of the cult favorite corners of this onetime Guinness family residence is the Walled Garden, a cloistered space where you can picnic amidst perennials and fruit trees.
Of course, this is not your average baguette-and-brie affair. There’s a whole menu of picnic hampers on offer here, not least, the Lord and Lady Ardilaun (homemade specialty breads, air-dried meats from a local artisanal butcher, smoked and cured fish from Connemara Smokehouse, mixed organic leaves and house dressing, Irish farmhouse cheese, fresh fruits, homemade finger pastries and biscuits, and naturally, libations).
Though not strictly a requirement of a secret garden, an extra-improbable location boosts the wow factor—or mamma-mia factor, as the case may be in Rome. Hidden in the heart of the city—on a centuries-old property that overlooks the Piazza del Popolo—the Secret Garden at Rocco Forte’s houses one of the most beloved restaurants in town: Le Jardin de Russie.
Though there are plenty of classics (don’t miss the organic focaccine), Chef Fulvio Pierangelini also earns raves for the likes of the Himalayan Pink Salt Grill menu, from which you can order everything from sea bass to Wagyu beef.
At Cusco’s Inkaterra , a colonial mansion turned lavish boutique hotel, a new program offers afternoon tea—or sunset cocktails—from one of the most privileged positions in town: a secret garden directly behind the iconic cathedral, whose endless cupolas punctuate your view as the sun sets. And because the wall that hides this rare green space is so nondescript, you’ll have the distinct impression that you’re entering a speakeasy (or the open-air, colonial baroque equivalent thereof) as you pass through the gate.
The Secret Tea Time here isn’t limited to tea, and if you’re not a traditionalist, you should seriously consider the local hot chocolate to go with your cakes and cookies. Or, if you choose the Sunset Cocktail instead, try the house pisco sour—the ultimate accompaniment to an Andean nightfall.
Clifftop, seaside and Victorian, Rhode Island's hotel certainly didn’t want for dreaminess. But the recently added Secret Garden—and its designation as a Veuve Cliquot-exclusive zone—took things over the top.
Set off from the hotel's main outdoor space by boxwood hedges, the ocean-view garden serves up not just champagne, but Veuve-centric cocktails (bubbles served over ice with tarragon, cilantro and basil, anyone?)—and accordingly oplulent hors d’oeuvres.
The instant you step out of Manhattan’s buzzing Chinatown—and into the entry garden of Ian Schrager’s new —you’ll feel cloistered in an alternate universe that’s somehow impervious to the surrounding whir. And though the urban-Eden theme carries throughout the hotel (the gift shop even stocks arrangements from a local florist), nowhere is the secret garden effect more delicious than out back, where Jean-Georges's newest NYC restaurant occupies the most private—and at night, stunningly lit—of green spaces.
Of course, this particular secret garden isn’t so hard to find, what with the resident wood-burning oven. Those scent trails you can’t help but follow? They may originate with the black truffle and farm egg pizza, the tomato, mozzarella and chipotle powder pizza, or any of a number of other wonders on the menu.
Positioned at the confluence of a lake, rice paddies and tracts of tropical flowers, a sultry secret garden serves as the best tea-time backdrop at . You can either claim a table in the Orchid Tea lounge—a conservatory of sorts with floor-to-ceiling views of said garden—or you can sip and snack alfresco.
Either way, afternoon tea here fuses of Balinese and Western delicacies, from kue (rice flour sweets) to fruit tartlets. And though hot tea is of course available, the lychee ice tea pairs perfectly with tropical paradise.
As you make your way through the bustle of old Jerusalem, an Ottoman-style stone wall on Ha-Nevi'im street obscures something you’d never expect: a tree- and flower-filled oasis of serenity, also known as the Garden Café at the new (but centuries-old) , where bougainvillea and burekas and make for a magical pairing.
Other standouts on the brunch menu include the shakshuka and cava cocktails, while the equally beloved High Tea is worth experiencing for the malabi (rose-scented milk pudding) alone.
You could argue that hanging one’s Secret Garden shingle out front—as Austin’s new does—is cheating a bit. But even if you were tipped off to the presence of this jewel as you made your way down East Sixth, the joy of discovery would hardly be diminished: You have to traverse a dimly lit, decadently adorned space that takes its inspiration from a fabled London opium den—the one said to have fueled the imaginations of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, among others—before you even reach the garden. Once you make your way out back, the paper lanterns, hanging foliage and textile-draped benches complete the effect.
The “Morsel” menu looks deceptively manageable, but you’ll quickly realize you want everything on it—the Burmese Fried Rice Bowl, the Thai Curry Soba, the panko-crusted goat cheese—and resistance is futile in an opium den (or even just outside one). The drinks also present an impossible choice, but if you order only one, go for the Maria Victoria, a blend of mezcal, lime, toasted Thai pepper syrup and cilantro.
Meanwhile, in Marrakech, is offering up new cooking workshops and meals—or afternoons of lunching and lolling, if you'd rather—in the hotel’s off-campus Secret Garden. Though the main property is tucked into the teeming medina, a quick shuttle ride transports you to Marrakesh’s exurban flip side, where there’s more space to accommodate the increasing number of guests who ask to study under the hotel’s fabled dadas (traditional cooks).
Whether you want to whip up something in a workshop, or simply order off a menu, the tagines—among other local specialties here—hardly encourage moderation. So once you’re ready to walk off your meal, you’ll be grateful that this particular secret garden comes with room to roam.
Address your imminent summer withdrawal and Game of Thrones withdrawal at the same time: ideally, sunset, when you should have cocktails in the secret garden that's doubled as a GOT cast hangout. Set back from a seaside street that leads to the heart of Dubrovnik (or King's Landing, if you prefer), the grand, historic conceals—among other wonders—the lushly landscaped Victoria Terrace and Lounge. Find your favorite spot amongst the grapevines, then settle in for sea and old city views that make whatever you're drinking almost beside the point.
Still, the Croatian-Peruvian menu happens to be great. In the spirit of fusion, try a local wine with any of the ceviches.