Hotel dining rooms used to be notoriously bad, or at least boring — the kinds of places you ate only if bad weather or inconvenient hours prevented you from going to a real restaurant. Today, some of the best restaurants in the world are in hotels, from Alain Ducasse's Louis XV at the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo to Jean Georges in Manhattan's Trump International to Lung King Heen in the Four Seasons in Hong Kong. Besides just good eating, though, an increasing number of hotels are offering special programs and other attractions to food-obsessed travelers.
Some have been doing it for years. The great revival of British cuisine started, in many ways, at country restaurants and hotels like Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in the quaint village of Great Milton, Oxfordshire. Here in 1985, self-taught chef Raymond Blanc secured two Michelin stars, and he’s kept them ever since. He also engaged guests in the culinary process, inviting them out to pick herbs in the garden and, later, to take classes at the onsite cooking school. In Ireland, Ballymaloe House takes things even further, sending interested guests down the road to learn about gardening and farming. In Copenhagen, meanwhile, the Nimb Hotel lets you visit their onsite dairy.
Some hotel food programs are geared towards the younger members of the family. While parents nibble on char-grilled Bresse quail at the Regent Berlin, kids can learn how to fillet a sole and set a table. At the Intercontinental London, Mum and Dad sip mimosas while the little ones learn to decorate cookies and cakes.
And then of course, there’s booze to consider — Chianti-tasting in Florence’s Villa San Michele, a vodka sommelier at St. Petersburg’s Grand Hotel Europe, vinotherapy at Hotel Marqués de Riscal in the Rioja. Over-indulgence seems less of a sin when your bed is a short stumble away.
Europe’s hotels offer a smoragasbord of opportunities for food-loving travelers. You just have to decide what your flavor is. The Daily Meal has served up ten of our favorites for you to sample. Check in and eat up.