Hotels haven't always been places connected with great dining options, as costly room service, modest minibar snacks, and a dining room offering a simple menu of mediocre food were for years the only food options available at most hotels. It was only about two decades ago when hotels began to recognize that a good in-house option for dining could be a serious asset; even something that could become a main draw for a steady year-round customer base. A good restaurant — located in a hotel lobby or not — is certain to attract serious diners from the neighborhood, as well as travelers from around the world. The fact that the restaurant is connected to a hotel might bring the extra bonus of optional overnight stays, but a truly excellent restaurant will soon be known as its own establishment, instead of just "the hotel restaurant."
For the second year, The Daily Meal seeks to pay homage to hotel restaurants around the world; establishments that have proven to stand out as excellent destinations for a memorable meal. The ranked list of our 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World is a comprehensive look at hotel restaurants that are to be recognized for serving impressive dishes to not only hotel guests, but a steady customer base of diners simply looking for a great meal.
Our list was carefully curated by considering our winners and nominees from 2012’s list of restaurants, as well as consulting the Michelin Guide and other trusted sources for recommendations. Different from last year, when our list simply presented 101 prestigious restaurants, we decided to go a step further for our second annual roundup by ranking the lucky 101 establishments that made the cut.
With hundreds of innovative and elegant restaurants to choose from, selecting the top 101, as well as ranking them, was a real culinary challenge. We grouped the selections by continent and invited a panel of experienced bloggers, restaurant critics, and other food and lifestyle writers from around the world to vote for their favorite restaurants in an anonymous online survey. The final step was for us to collect the results and assemble a ranked list.
There were a few rules we established in order to narrow the selection of hotel restaurants: The hotel had to have at least 15 rooms (so quaint, family-run bed-and-breakfasts, and famed restaurants that happen to have a few rooms for the convenience of guests, were immediately eliminated). In addition, notable restaurants located just a few steps from hotels, even if they are under the same ownership, were also excluded.
Though price was no object for the purposes of compiling our list, the fact is that the majority of restaurants that made the cut are located in luxury hotels with equally luxurious menu prices. We did not discriminate on location; no island, nation, or province was off the table. As you will see, the list includes some surprising stars in remote locations, like Acquapazza at the Four Seasons Mauritius and Fontaine at the Hayman Island Resort in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
From the Tamarind Tree at Curtin Bluff in Antigua, West Indies, to Anne-Sophie Pic at Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland, to Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia, our worldwide list spans six continents, more than 50 countries and nations, and more than 80 cities.
The cuisines at these honored spots represent an array of styles and techniques, from classic Italian to French fusion, and from Caribbean to Catalan.
During our extensive culinary tour de force, we were disappointed to learn of the closures of some of our top selected eateries from last year, like Adour at The St. Regis Hotel in New York City, and San Francisco's Masa's at Executive Hotel Vintage Court. Luckily, Masa's is scheduled for a reopening in 2014, and other restaurant closures, such as Bei at the Opposite House, were made in order to give way to new concepts, in this case Alan Yau’s Jing Yaa Tang. As sad it was to see old pioneers closing their doors, we were also excited to find several old favorites holding their place among the top 101, as well as fresh, new, exceptional restaurants climbing up the list — such as Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel in Carmel, Calif., run by executive chef Justin Cogley, recently named a "Best New Chef in 2013" by Food & Wine magazine.
A list like this one is likely to prompt disagreements among discerning diners; and even we here at The Daily Meal were divided on which restaurants made the final cut. After checking out The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World, share your comments on our Twitter page @thedailymeal using the hashtag #BestHotelRestaurants, and let us know what restaurants you think should have been included, or should have been left out. And for those restaurants that didn't make the cut, there is always next year, when we look forward to yet again crowning the101 top hotel restaurants — old and new — around the globe.
Special Contributor Lauren Mack (@lmack) contributed to this story.