The un-brie-lievable destinations behind your favorite cheeses
Booking.com, the digital travel leader in connecting travelers with the widest choice of unique places to stay, a range of must-do travel experiences and seamless transport options, research reveals that nearly six in 10 (58%)* global travelers pick their vacation destination because of the great food and drink on offer. So for the cheese-lovers among them, why not journey further than the fridge or local cheese shop to uncover the origins of some of the world’s favorite cheeses? In celebration of National Cheese Lover’s Day (January 20th), Booking.com has identified some of the cheesiest stays among its more than 155,000 destinations for cheese lovers around the world to indulge in while exploring the destination that created some of their favorites.
For cheese fans, this Dutch city is all Gouda, with its namesake cheese accounting for a massive 60% of Dutch cheese production**. Produced in the surrounding region, travelers to Gouda can purchase wheels of the local delicacy at the city’s Thursday morning market that takes place from April through to August. Having first started in 1395, this bustling market has kept its traditional charm, with farmers and traders ‘clapping hands’ to confirm a sale in front of the historic city hall buildings. Travelers should also visit “de Goudse Waag”, which means the Gouda scale, was built in 1669 and originally used for weighing cheese. Now it’s home to the tourist information office as well as the Cheese and Crafts Museum, which offers cheese tasting, tours and craft demonstrations.
Where to stay: The Tannery Lane holiday home is the perfect home from home for cheese loving travelers, just a four minute stroll from the location of the Thursday morning market. This guesthouse, which is found on the city center’s smallest street, was originally built in 1879. From the outside it boasts a traditional charm, while inside the property houses all the mod-cons needed for a comfortable stay in Gouda.
Cheddar cheese is now the UK’s most popular cheese choice, accounting for 51% of the annual cheese market locally***, but has humble beginnings in the village of Cheddar in Somerset. Local legend says that Cheddar cheese was discovered by accident when a milkmaid accidentally let a pail of milk stored in the cool caves go bad, turning it into hard cheese. Adventurous visitors to the village of Cheddar can explore these chilly caves at Cheddar Gorge, the largest gorge in the UK. After exploring and working up an appetite, cheese-lovers can stop by the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, where visitors can see the cheese being made from start to finish at the working dairy and visitor center.
Where to stay: Just a short walk from the Cheddar Gorge caves, The Bath Arms Hotel offers adult-only accommodation that is as charming as the picturesque village itself. With an onsite restaurant and bar, visitors will find all the amenities they need for a comfortable stay. The restaurant serves a daily menu with traditional pub favorites and during the warmer months guests can even dine in the outdoor beer garden.
Monterey, California, USA
Named after both its place of origin and the entrepreneur who began selling it commercially, Monterey Jack cheese has become a staple of many Americans’ fridge or cheese board. This white, semi-hard cheese made using cow's milk is known for its mild flavor and slight sweetness. Originally, Monterey Jack was made by Franciscan friars of Monterey of Alta California in the 18th-Century. A local businessman, David Jacks identified the delicious opportunity and started selling it all over the state, where it came to be known as “Monterey Jack's” or “Jack's Monterey”. While there are no dairy farms in the city of Monterey city itself, the destination’s rich cheese history makes it the perfect travel destination for cheese lovers from around the world.
Where to stay: Monterey is on the southern edge of Monterey Bay on California's Central Coast. Just a short walk from Fisherman's Wharf, the Portola Hotel & Spa is the perfect spot for those visiting Monterey for its aquatic appeal. From the nearby wharf, travelers can set sail and whale watch, before returning to the hotel’s Jacks Monterey restaurant for a bite to eat – preferably a cheesy treat!
Asiago, a township in Italy, not only shares the name of but was the birthplace of Asiago cheese. In this town, travelers can visit Azienda Agricola Waister Di Rela Riccardo which is a small, niche cheese factory where visitors can feel like an authentic dairy farmer as they witness the various stages of cheese production. With Asiago though, it’s all about the taste, and visitors can sample the cheese available onsite. If one factory isn’t enough, travelers visiting Asiago can also head to Caseificio Pennar Asiago or Pennar Dairy Cooperative Shop, a specialty shop offering fresh and quality cheeses to purchase.
Where to stay: For guests seeking a cheese-filled vacation, La Locanda offers guests a breakfast that includes a variety of cheesy delights. Really well located, the cheese factory and Azienda Agricola Waister Di Rela Riccardo are just a short drive away.
Munster, a small commune in France, is home to the strong-smelling soft cheese with which it shares its name. La Maison du Fromage (Cheese House – Munster Valley) is the perfect destination for those with a soft-spot for Munster. The Cheese House offers films, exhibitions, educational workshops, and of course the opportunity to indulge in a tasting or two. Munster cheese was first made here as early as 1371, and history-lovers will be excited as the region is also home to the Ruins of Munster Abbey, the 16th century Lion fountain in the Market Square or even just exploring the town itself which dates to 1550.
Where to stay: Located near the center of Munster, Le Chalet La Cigogne et Le Chamois is a self-catering holiday home that comes with a fully equipped kitchen, perfect for a wine and cheese night. After a day of indulging taste buds with glorious cheese and local produce, guests can take a hike on the trails located nearby.
Ciudad Real, Spain
Ciudad Real is the home of Manchego Cheese, a delicious cheese made from the milk of the Manchega sheep breed. For a mouth-watering experience, travelers should head to Finca de Las Terceras, a farm dedicated to producing Manchego cheese, in the southeast of Ciudad Real, Spain. Here, travelers can witness cheese connoisseurs producing the finest cheese from scratch and can even buy these fine delicacies at the farm. Foodie travelers of all tastes can find what they’re looking for in the city’s Plaza Mayor, with a variety of restaurants set among the historical square. Ciudad Real is home to plenty of cheese shops, so visitors can sample the varieties on offer and pick their favorites.
Where to stay: Just beyond the outskirts of Ciudad Real, Hotel Parque Real offers guests the best of both worlds for a tranquil city escape. Set among the tranquil green of vast hotel grounds, this peaceful stay is still just a 10 minute drive from the Ciudad Real city center. The hotel is also a treat for the taste buds, with local cuisine and fresh produce on offer to guests staying at the hotel.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 53,492 respondents across 31 markets. In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in the past 12 months and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place between October 16th and November 12th, 2018.