There was a time when hotel restaurants were synonymous with underwhelming and overpriced. To find a good meal, you’d have to leave the hotel (or settle for an overcooked and exorbitantly-priced room service burger if you didn’t have the time or energy to step out). Thankfully, that has been changing in recent years. Restaurants around the world are breaking free of the sad stereotype and ushering in a new era of inventive, high-quality, in-hotel dining, making it easier—and even exciting (spoiler alert: sunset views, molecular cuisine, open kitchens, and foraging feasts below)—for guests to enjoy a meal on-site.
Here are some restaurants that will change your mind about in-hotel dining:
Hula Grill Waikiki at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, Honolulu, Hawai`i
Plenty of beachside restaurants around the world rely on their good looks to get by—serving mediocre food in their postcard-perfect settings. That’s not the case at Hula Grill Waikiki in the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Hula Grill has the outer beauty—arguably the best views on the beach from the second-floor lanai that looks out over the Pacific and toward Diamond Head—but it’s what’s inside that counts: Hawaiian regional cuisine served up with aloha. Book a table for brunch and try the strawberry mochi waffle (made with Maui-grown berries and Manoa honey) and a Pine Punch (pineapple juice, organic Hawaiian ginger, and champagne). Or make a dinner reservation on the lanai and sip Maui-made Lokelani sparkling rose while you snack on crab and macadamia nut wontons and watch the sunset. Don’t forget to ask about the dinner specials; they’re often made with fresh, sustainably-sourced fish and Hawaiian inspired flavors. And they are oh-so-ono (delicious).
Tapas Molecular Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, Japan
If you’re overnighting at the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo, you’ll find innovative molecular cuisine on-site at Michelin-starred Tapas Molecular Bar. As the name implies, these are indeed small portions—but sans the Spanish recipes. Chef Ngan Ping Chow uses Japanese and Western flavors and a delicate touch to create intricate and interactive dishes, giving guests an unforgettable molecular gastronomy experience in this intimate, 8-seats-only, sushi-style bar.
La Cucina at Il Salviatino, Fiesole, Italy
Forage alongside the chef then feast on your finds at La Cucina in the Il Salviatino Hotel in Fiesole. Guests here can book a culinary experience to learn about edible wild plant identification before heading outside to collect wild mushrooms, flowers, and berries for their meal. Italy is home to the largest number of plant species in Europe—approximately 8,000 — so this is an ideal place to test your plant knowledge and your skills in the kitchen. And if you prefer to leave the foraging and cooking to the experts, you’ll still have the chance to enjoy fresh, seasonal eats straight from the hotel’s on-site organic garden.
The Dome at lebua, Bangkok, Thailand
Although Bangkok is nicknamed the City of Angels, it’s also known as a city of traffic. Rise above the street-level chaos with a culinary escape to The Dome, lebua’s rooftop dining and drinking destination. There are 10 restaurants and bars to choose from here—several of them are open-air with panoramic cityscape and Chao Phraya river views, so you could easily spend an entire evening (or three) hopping from bar to restaurant and bar again. Start your night with a champagne toast at Flute, the world’s highest open-air champagne bar. Then sit down to a multi-course meal created by Chef Ryuki Kawasaki, inspired by his Japanese roots and French culinary training, at two Michelin-starred Mezzaluna. Or opt for a seat on the terrace at Sirocco, one of the tallest al fresco rooftop restaurants in the world. If you’re in the company of a client you’re keen to entertain, bring them to Chef’s Table, a Michelin-starred restaurant where the art of cooking is on full display with Chef Vincent Thierry at the center of this elevated open-kitchen experience. End your evening on top of the world—or, at least, at the tip-top of Bangkok—on the 51st-floor digital-graphic dance floor at lebua No. 3.
Urban Farmer at The Oxford Hotel, Denver, Colorado
Urban Farmer, located in Denver's oldest hotel, is providing diners with a taste of the latest farm-to-table trend: beekeeping. There's an apiary on the roof and a Master Beekeeper in the kitchen, which means fresh honeycombs on the cheese plates and pollinator wildflower seed packets as a parting gift to guests.
Indian Accent at The Lodhi Hotel, Delhi, India
Arriving in India’s ever-buzzing capital city can be intense. Find respite and award-winning, innovative Indian cuisine at Indian Accent in The Lodhi Hotel. Chef Manish Mehrotra marries flavors of his homeland with ingredients and techniques from around the world to create what he’s described as “Indian food with an international accent.” His restaurant is so adored, he also opened one in London and another in New York.
Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant at Mount Lofty House, Adelaide Hills, Australia
Savor the Picadilly Valley views and sample tastes of the Adelaide Hills when you dine at Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant in the Mount Lofty House hotel. Sit back and let the sommelier guide you to the perfect local wine pairings to complement “3 chef hat” Jin Choi’s “valley to verandah” menu, created from ingredients grown on-property and sourced locally. Don’t let the countryside setting fool you; this casual yet refined restaurant rocks—if it’s guests, including rock and roll royalty Stevie Nicks and The Rolling Stones, are any indication.