Until a couple of decades ago, hotel restaurants had a reputation for being a last resort for hungry travelers who opted for convenience instead of culinary brilliance. They were seen as dull, boring, and plain, offering mediocre, overpriced fare. There was something sad about dining in your hotel, as if you didn't have the social or financial wherewithal to venture out for a real meal.
Oh, how things have changed. In recent years, hotel restaurants have stepped up their game so much so that they have become coveted dining spots for locals and travelers alike, who are often either waiting in line or booking reservations months in advance just to be able to pull up a chair at the hottest restaurant in town — which happens to be in a hotel. As the trend for stylish, cutting-edge hotel restaurants continues to grow, so does The Daily Meal’s dedication to identifying the best and most impressive examples around the globe.
For the third year in a row, with our ranked list of 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World, the Daily Meal seeks to recognize hotel restaurants that have proven themselves as truly remarkable culinary destinations.
Our list was carefully curated; we considered the winners and nominees from the 2013 list of best hotel restaurants; consulted the Michelin Guide and other trusted sources for further recommendations; and drew hotel restaurants from our annual lists of The 101 Best Restaurants in Asia, The 101 Best Restaurants in Europe, and The 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean. Needless to say, there is considerable crossover. Our second-place hotel restaurant this year, for instance — Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London — ranked as our third-best entry in this year's 101 Best Restaurants in Europe
There were a few rules we established in order to narrow down our nominees: 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 eliminated). In addition, notable restaurants located just a few steps from hotels, even if they are under the same ownership, were also excluded; they had to be under the same roof as well as the same proprietorship.
Though price was not a factor in 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. One of our choices, in fact, SubliMotion at the Hard Rock Hotel in Ibiza (#53), is almost certainly the most expensive restaurant in the world, charging diners about $2,000 per person, tax not included. (On the other hand, diners can enjoy a nice lunch at Le Comptoir at Hôtel Relais Saint Germain, #88, in Paris for under $50 a person, all-inclusive.) We did not discriminate based on location; no state, province, or nation was off the table. Sure, there are plenty of places in Beijing, New York City, London, and other major capitals, but there are also such establishments as Le Verger at Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa in Franschhoek, South Africa (#90), Moxi at Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (#51), and Jade Cuisine at Jade Mountain in Anse Chastanet, on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia (#82).
With hundreds of possibilities to choose from, elegant and homey, classical and avant-garde, selecting and ranking the top 101 was a real challenge. To meet it, 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 online survey. Click here for the results.
#101 Mi Casa by José Andrés at Ritz-Carlton Dorado Beach (Dorado, Puerto Rico)
Dining in Puerto Rico has improved dramatically in the past decade or so, and the quality and variety now outpaces what's available on any other Caribbean island. Even so, the opening of this new restaurant two years ago by the irrepressible José Andrés has brought a new level of dining to the island. The menu is full of traditional offerings both Spanish and Puerto Rican (first-rate jamón ibérico, shrimp with mojo negro, grilled rib eye with yuca purée, and piquillo pepper confit), along with simply cooked steaks and seafood and some avant-garde touches, including coconut water and rum spheres with mint and lime after a recipe by Ferran Adrià and a Spanish omelette "new way," with puréed potatoes and a 63-degree poached egg.
#100 NoMI Kitchen at Park Hyatt (Chicago)
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a weekend brunch, NoMI Kitchen describes itself as "a relaxed open kitchen restaurant," but it's also open to the city, offering extravagant views of downtown Chicago, including the Water Tower and Lake Michigan. The menu at NoMI is driven by fresh, locally sourced ingredients and high-quality flavors. On the dinner menu are mains including lake perch served with sugar snap peas, potato confit, and early tomato nage; milk-fed suckling pig with asparagus, rhubarb, and ramp jus; and Wagyu strip steak with spring onions and mushrooms.
Alexandra E. Petri is the travel editor at The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @writewayaround.
Editorial director Colman Andrews (@Colmanandrews) and special contributors Lauren Mack (@lmack),Clare Sheehan (@clare_sheehan),and Elsa Säätelä (@elsamaija) contributed to 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World. Of the many panelists who voted in the 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World Survey, James Sturz, www.jamessturz.com, wished to be identified. Other panelists asked that their names not be identified.