It used to be that a hotel was the last place any serious eater would venture to dine. That started changing about two decades ago when hotels began recognizing that their in-house restaurants could be an asset, crafted into destinations in their own right. And it's not just a matter of adding to the hotel's draw for travelers. While guests may come and go with the seasons, hotels that have invested in their restaurants have seen they can keep their tables booked year-round with locals or folks like us who might actually even visit a hotel specifically for the food.
The Daily Meal’s first annual 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World seeks to pay homage to the world’s most exemplary hotel feasts. This is our comprehensive look at hotel restaurants that have consistently set the benchmark by which other hotel restaurants are measured. in August we asked for your help to rank the list. You responded in great numbers.
Restaurants that have made the list include Joël Robuchon Restaurant at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, sometimes considered the best French restaurant in America; the estimable Man Wah at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong; the tiny, charming Le Comptoir at the Relais Saint-Germain in Paris; the legendary Caesar's Restaurant at Hotel Caesar in Tijuana, birthplace of the Caesar salad; and the opulent, newly refurbished La Marocain at La Mamounia in Marrakech.
Our list was carefully curated by consulting the Michelin Guide and other trusted sources and through recommendations from The Daily Meal’s editors, who have traveled and dined extensively around the world.
With hundreds of innovative restaurants to choose from, it was a culinary challenge to whittle the list down to a select 101. To be in contention, a hotel had to have at least 15 rooms (so quaint auberges, family-run bed and breakfasts, and famed restaurants that happen to have a few rooms for the convenience of guests were immediately eliminated). Likewise, notable restaurants that lie just steps from hotels, even if they are under the same ownership, were also excluded — for instance Cibo Trattoria, adjacent to the Moda Hotel in Vancouver.
For the purposes of compiling the list, price was no object; but the fact is that the majority of restaurants that made the cut are located in luxury hotels with equally luxurious tabs. We did not discriminate on location; no island, nation, or province was off the table. In fact, the list includes some surprising gems in far-flung locales like Acquapazza at the Four Seasons Mauritius and Fontaine at the Hayma Island Resort in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
From Inverlochy at the Inverlochy Castle Hotel in Torlundy, Scotland, to Jaan at Swissôtel The Stamford in Singapore to The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles, the globe-trotting list spans six continents, more than 40 countries and nations, and more than 80 cities, with Paris claiming the most spots on the list (with five).
The cuisine at these honored spots runs the gamut from classic Cantonese to Caribbean to Catalan and from French to fusion.
During our extensive culinary tour de force, we were pleased to revisit old favorites but were disappointed to learn of the closures of some of our most beloved pioneers of hotel haute cuisine. We would be remiss if we did not mention the unexpected temporary disappearance of Michel Richard's Citronelle at the Latham Hotel in Washington, D.C., which closed due to water damage. A handful of our favorites, too, are undergoing extensive renovation and repositioning, like Fortuny Restaurant at Hotel Cipriani in Venice, which is closing its doors Nov. 11 and reopens on March 21, 2013.
Still others are embarking on new culinary chapters with recent appointments of new executive chefs, like Feringgi Grill at the Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa in Penang, Malaysia, and TOCA at the Ritz Carlton Toronto. Other high profile contenders are about to lose their chefs, most notably Claridge's in London, whose longtime mainstay Gordon Ramsay is reportedly decamping when his contract expires at the end of the year. We wish these restaurants well and we eagerly await with fork in hand for a chance to try the offerings yet to come as we begin to compile next year’s 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World.
Any list like this one is bound to stir disagreements among discerning diners; even our own staff was divided on which restaurants made the final cut. After checking out The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World, share your compliments and critiques in the comments section below — or on Twitter using the hashtag #BestHotelRestos, or by pinning your favorites to our 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World Pinterest board — and let us know what restaurants you think should have been included, or should have been left out.
Who's at the top of the People's Choice: 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World? The answer may surprise you.
Clare Sheehan contributed research and text to 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World.