When I travel, I spend most of my time taste-testing restaurants and visiting different – sometimes famous, sometimes less so – places that serve local food to a local crowd. However, every once in a while I stumble upon a restaurant that’s located in a hotel. Knowing which are the Best Hotel Restaurants is important.
These don’t generally cater to the local crowd. Indeed, when looking at the dining options, locals don’t think hotels – they’re, after all, for the travelling crowd.
When dining out, whether on the road or at home, here are a few excellent reasons to remember that chefs in hotels do a great job, too!
Chef Frank Widmer focuses on the best of the best. First of all, he chooses his providers himself, visiting them on a regular basis, would they be in Switzerland or across the globe.
This isn’t exactly the trendiest way of doing food. No squirt-bottle drawings on the plate; no tiny portions; no unpronounceable ingredients.
Next to every ingredient on the menu is listed the name of the provider and its location.
I was served a huge veal chop from a Swiss provider that was so creamy it felt like butter; a glass of wine (Rhoneblut by Albert Mathier) from a 12-litre bottle poured from a huge handmade metal contraption; a – super classic – Bolivian chocolate moelleux; a taste of a local kirsch called K161 by Lorenz Humbel.
For me, it’s a true question mark: why isn’t Paco Perez, chef at Cinco in Berlin, better known in the world of celebrity chefs? It’s beyond me. He owns five Michelin stars. Yet, whenever I mention his name to my foodie friends, all I get back is a dubitative look.
Cinco is a grand operation. It’s modern, it pushes the boundaries of your taste buds (yet not too much), and turns an evening into a complete experience.
I was served a meal divided into 4 worlds: the orchard, the sea, the forest, and a dessert. Each “serving” is, in fact, a tiny bite or very small plate, precisely and intricately designed.
Pieces like “cauliflower and bean” bear all the weight of the Adria background of the chef, using the famous spherification technique to create the illusion of fava beans in a consommé thick with collagen.
Every single bite and every single tiny dish has extremely subtle, delicate tastes, nothing is overpowering anything, and the meal is a thorough experience that requires the diner’s full attention.
The hotel itself, over looking Marseille’s most famous sight, Notre-Dame de la Garde, is a spectacular location, and restaurant Alcyone has the luxury to have one of the best views available in the whole city.
But location is not all you’ll get at l’Alcyone: French “nouvelle cuisine” is on the menu and chef Lionel Levy is incorporating as many tastes of the home city in its playful dishes.
A dish combining botargo, cauliflower, and a crunchy bit of squid ink bread combines the best ingredients of Provence, the Mediterranean and mainland France; a deconstructed bouillabaisse puts cooked and raw rockfish pieces together, a thick consommé that kisses the raw fish with enough heat to cook it has almost a chowder consistency; a duck dish with terrine cromesquis and foie gras sauce reminds us that we’re definitely in France.
It’s high-end dining in a high-end location.
Who said that chain restaurants can’t be good? The Marriott hotel chain has its signature Midtown Grill, a New York-style steakhouse, and the simple, affordable, delicious, great ingredients it serves should not be sneered at. It’s a steakhouse, so everything is straightforward: choose your type of beef – Angus, Australian wagyu, Kobe wagyu, etc –, your cut – bone-in ribeye, new york strip, filet mignon – and your doneness – rare, medium rare, medium – and off you go!
I had the bone-in ribeye, and asked for an impossible medium-rare-but-closer-to-rare-than-to-medium (I’m picky that way) and a good glass of red, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Locations include Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Prague, Leeds and many more!
Best Hotel Restaurants: Celebrity chefs around Europe
Obviously I’ve not visited every single high-end restaurant in hotels, and many hotel restaurants have a great reputation, including Fischers Fritz in Berlin, Epicure in Paris and El Motel Restaurant in Figueres, Spain.
There also are a few of the heralded restaurants by the world’s most famous chefs that are located in hotels:
Alain Ducasse is one of the greatest chefs alive, and lots of his restaurants are in hotels. The list is too long to print here, but here are of the most important ones:
Paris: Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athenee Hotel – 2 Michelin stars
Paris: Le Meurice Alain Ducasse at Meurice Hotel – 3 Michelin stars
Monaco: Louis XV at Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo Hotel – 3 Michelin stars
London: Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester Hotel – 3 Michelin stars
If it’s true about chef Ducasse, it’s also true about Gordon Ramsay. However chef Ramsay’s restaurants are opening and closing at a crazy pace. Here are a few of his restaurants located in hotels:
Joel Robuchon, the great French chef, holds a few addresses in hotels: