STUNNING DESIGN & FLAWLESS SERVICE ONCE AGAIN BECOME THE NORM
A great hotel has to give a good reason to visit – from design to service and everything in between. An exceptional hotel will provide an additional pull if it sports a restaurant good enough to sway people from their old favourites or the super-popular ‘mainstream’ brands splattered all over online travel guides. And for far too long, hotel restaurants were stuck with a stigma that was difficult to shake off. Many hotel guests, when faced with a choice of where to eat, they will most likely choose a standalone venue rather than a hotel restaurant. But in recent years, the tables have turned.
More and more hotels have either taken the incredible design or the celebrity chef approach for their in-house restaurants, in an attempt to draw a wider but equally sophisticated clientele. It’s not a bad move to make, come to think of it, as many have thus proven that a hotel restaurant can be a successful business entity in its own right and take the spotlight at the centre of a community. It’s an approach that has even revigorated the UK’s hospitality industry, with more and more people choosing hotel restaurants and bars as their prime social locations for a multitude of reasons: the style, the glamour, the beautiful design, the exceptional dishes or the excellent service.
Some hotel restaurants have taken things one step further, and have prodigiously combined all of the above into some of the world’s absolute best venues for fine dining and social events. From word of mouth, from copious notes and research, and from our own travels, we’ve been able to pick out some absolutely gorgeous examples of restaurants built within hotels but catering to an enormous public audience, best known for both their splendid interiors and their marvellous cuisine. In an industry as tough and as competitive as hospitality, rest assured that what these brands have achieved is of great importance, raising the bar near-to-impossibly high for future restaurateurs.
Jaleo by José Andrés at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas: Standing tall and proud in the heart of the Las Vegas strip, The Cosmopolitan is a global name often used to define luxury resorts. Packed with a casino, residential-styled living space with sumptuous private terraces and skyline views and a bundle of fabulous restaurants, alongside a plethora of A-list events, The Cosmopolitan is a preferred destination for both tourists and locals. For the latter, the biggest delight comes from the hotel’s own Jaleo by José Andrés restaurant. As the name so easily suggests, the hospitality brand teamed up with culinary master José Andrés to bring a unique dining experience to life. Mr Andrés, who was recently awarded the ‘Outstanding Chef’ by the James Beard Foundation, was named one of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’, named ‘Outstanding American Citizen by Choice’ by president Barack Obama and even participated on his historic delegation to Cuba this year, does not take cooking lightly.
By that account, eating at Jaleo is an immersive experience from the moment one sets foot inside. The passionate and sophisticated interiors come in dramatic contrasts of red with gold accents, accompanied by smooth black surfaces and lighting that resembles the decorative touches on Chef Andrés’ signature dishes. The atmosphere is difficult to compare to any other place one might have enjoyed, and the food is, of course, not only of the highest standard but also enriched by flavours and daring innovation. Better yet, guests can experience a full immersion inside é by José Andrés, the exclusive and secret dining space within the restaurant – an intimate room where the wonders of incredible multicourse tasting menus await.
Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas: Still in Vegas, where luxury can afford beautiful design and the diamonds of the culinary world, the iconic Caesars Palace now celebrates 50 years of gracing the Nevada landscape with its magnanimous architecture and dazzling casino. Hosting its own array of entertainment shows, from live NFL to music concerts and stand-up comedy from legends such as Elton John and Jerry Seinfeld, Caesars Palace makes no expense in its quest to provide the ultimate client experience. Guests and locals alike can enjoy the pampering of its superb suites, spa and pools, as well as the gastronomy extravaganza of its whopping 17 restaurants, bars and food halls, which include a Nobu, one of Gordon Ramsay’s brands and the exquisite Restaurant Guy Savoy. The latter is what we wish to include as a truly extraordinary melange of fine dining and design, one of the best of the best out there.
A resident of the Augustus Tower since May 2006, Restaurant Guy Savoy brings the culinary expertise of world class chef Guy Savoy to the plates of those who are ready to experience it to the fullest. Guy Savoy took the eponymous Paris concept and simply (and gracefully) implanted it into Las Vegas, with the help of his friend and architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who was also responsible for the wonderful 2000 refurbishment of the French ‘flagship’. The atmosphere is fabulous and the tastefully simple design with elegant lines, fine surfaces and open spaces with natural light are only matched by the impressive attention to detail. In addition to the stylish design, Guy Savoy does everything possible to provide a pristine gourmet experience – no flowers are used for decorations and staff cannot wear perfume, so as not to interfere with the guests’ olfactory senses during their meal.
Felix at The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong: The famous ‘Grande Dame of the Far East’, The Peninsula Hotel was built in 1928 and is Hong Kong’s oldest hotel, thus acknowledged for its high standards and charming combination of Eastern and Western elements. The Peninsula tends to keep things classy, with an atmosphere that evokes the glamorous moments of a by-gone era, filled with classical grandeur and timeless elegance. Sprinkled with antiques and historical artefacts that subtly illustrate Hong Kong’s place in the world throughout the centuries, this superb hotel is also home to one of the world’s most beautiful and best restaurants – Felix, the upper level of fine dining.
Located on the 28th floor of the tower and opening out to Hong Kong’s spectacular skyline, Felix pushes culinary boundaries to new and exhilarating experiences under the expertise of Chef Yoshiharu Kaji, who takes his guests on a gastronomical voyage of Modern European flavours. The iconic restaurant is a raging success with both tourists and locals – not only due to its exceptional dishes and flawless service, but also thanks to its breath-taking design. Interior design legend Philippe Starck is the mastermind behind Felix’s aesthetic of contemporary glam fused with avant-garde statements, as witnessed through the almost artistic lighting and the functional, yet elegant furnishing. Symmetrically composed across the Restaurant, the Wine Bar, the Balcony, the American Bar and the Crazy Box, Starck’s Felix is a beautiful design statement that offers incredible views over Victoria Harbour along with its eminent cuisine.
Man Wah at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong: We’re not leaving Hong Kong just yet, as it’s impossible to overlook the first and flagship hotel of the Mandarin Oriental, where design and gastronomy wonders abound. The Mandarin Oriental is about as legendary as the city itself, and prides itself as one of the world’s most impressive five-star hospitality brands – renowned for its sleek design, superb service and near-perfect mixture of luxury, comfort and style. Another icon of Hong Kong that overlooks the beautiful Victoria Harbour framed by the city’s vibrant skyline, the Mandarin features stylish accommodation with sumptuous suites, spa and 10 restaurants and bar, including the fabulous Man Wah. Located on the 25th floor, Man Wah specialises in authentic Cantonese cuisine, rich in exquisite local and regional specialities alongside a downright ravishing Dim Sum during lunch hours.
It’s often named as one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful dining experiences, with a classy Chinese allure and large windows that open up to the harbour. The walls are adorned by original paintings on silk, and lacquered enamel and gold-plated ceiling lamps are fashioned to resemble birdcages, while dusty pinks and delicate purples make subtle references to kitsch while enriching the overall bouquet of stylish grace that is Man Wah. This Michelin-star jewel is led by award-winning chef Chi-Kwong Hung, who strives to offer guests a complete Cantonese delight that isn’t deprived by flair or modern twists. Resembling a ‘perfectly crafted antique Chinese jewellery box you can step into,’ as the Hong Kong Tatler put it, the Man Wah celebrates both design and cuisine in its own way.
Joël Robuchon Restaurant at MGM Grand, Las Vegas: We decided to list only five of the world’s most beautiful hotel restaurants – we’re sure you would agree that it’s a tough choice to make either way, and going past five would’ve turned this feature into a novella. After careful deliberation, we ultimately agreed to go back to Las Vegas for this last one, telling ourselves that we’d do a lengthier slideshow sometime in the future, to include all of our preferences. Until then, however, we’d like to once again stop by the luxurious MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, which is home to what is referred to as not only the best French restaurant in the United States by some critics, but also one of the most beautiful in the world. This stunning Art Deco townhouse is nestled within the famous MGM Mansion, and it bears the signature of master decorator Pierre-Yves Rochon.
With a pricey but downright extraordinary menu, composed of authentic Robuchon dishes and classics of the extravagant French cuisine, the Joël Robuchon Restaurant’s dining experience is further augmented by its gorgeous design – a journey through several dominant colours, glowing with Parisian charm. The entrance is clad in chequered black and white marble, while the 80-seat dining room unfolds in a soft beige and a smooth purple against sleek black accents. The same purple and black roll out into the open-air garden terrace, solemnly guarded by a massive greenery wall. The kitchen was designed by Mr Robuchon himself and is led by chef Christophe de Lellis and his brigade of culinary champions. This is, by far, one of the favourite hideout spots for numerous celebrities from across the globe, who come to feast on both the exceptional dishes and the stunning design.
Ultimately, whether there’s an expense account available or not, it’s always a pleasure to sit back and enjoy a fabulous meal, paired with a good wine and the presence of those we hold dear – not to mention the added value to date nights, and the joy of experiencing new tastes and dishes. Most importantly, after a long day of travel and meetings, it’s a blessing if the hotel we’re staying at features a restaurant that breaks away from the boring old ‘hotel restaurant’ tirade of drab stereotype meals and stuns you with fantastic cuisine and flawless service. It’s downright heaven when the same venue is dressed in lines, colours, surfaces and fabrics that turn it into a work of art that celebrates both food and design.
Thus, by mingling art with food, more and more hotels are breaking away from the ‘hotel restaurant’ stigma that has haunted us for decades, choosing style over conventional and innovation over plain cooking. And we’re all just loving it!