Photo: Melissa Hom
Food is an integral part of travelling, offering a window into the culture and an opportunity to break bread with in-the-know locals.Sometimes, the best dining experiences are right inside your hotel. Whether you’re looking for a high-end sophisticated dining and lodging experience or a hip and trendy eatery-hotel, we’ve found the best hotels for foodies in America. Not only is their food first-rate, but their restaurants are a visual treat as well.
The culinary experiences at these design-conscious hotels are so amazing that you may never want to check out.
The stylish Ace Hotel is a hipster enclave in New York City with a hip urban aesthetic.
There are cool murals and artworks in the lobby, where there's often a DJ spinning while trendy people sip on custom cocktails. Interesting lighting fixtures, furnishings, and objects from different eras appear throughout the hotel--a testament to the hotel's history (it was originally built in 1904 as the Breslin Hotel).
Home to The Breslin Bar & Dining Room, a hip gastropub; The John Dory Oyster Bar, a renowned seafood restaurant; the No. 7 Sub Shop, serving heady sandwiches; and a branch of Portland's Stumptown Coffee, the hotel is a foodie's dream.
But it's The Breslin that's got everyone in New York buzzing. Owned by April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (of Spotted Pig fame), The Breslin is a New York hotspot. People clamor to get in the doors to taste the meat-centric menu. Try the lamb burger with feta, their signature dish.
All of the kitchens in The Surrey, an Upper East Side boutique hotel, are overseen by renowned French chef Daniel Boulud. The hotel, a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group, epitomizes Upper East Side chic, with its sleek palate of muted grays and whites and its stellar service.
A meal at Cafe Boulud alone makes it worth staying here; the restaurant has one Michelin star and three stars from the New York Times. Boulud's French-American cuisine is inspired by the seasons. Try the Maine peekytoe crab in a cucumber avocado broth or the pan-seared sea scallops with chorizo, peas, mussels, and octopus in espelette broth.
And if you're feeling anti-social, you can even order directly from Cafe Boulud to your room.
Located on Manhattan's Central Park South, the Trump International Hotel & Tower, an elegant high-rise hotel that was recently ranked the #5 large city hotel in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards, is home to what is widely acknowledged as one of the best restaurants in New York City: Jean Georges.
The eponymous restaurant of celebrity chef Jean Georges continually racks up accolades: it has 3 Michelin stars, 4 stars from the New York Times, and the 5 Diamond Award from AAA, among others. The restaurant is sophisticated, with comfortable beige chairs and contemporary lighting fixtures--but the focus stays largely on the food.
The menu changes constantly, but it features delicate and complex dishes, like caramelized foie gras with black olive seasoning and lychee or porcini-crusted arctic char with warm leek vinaigrette. One of the best deals here is the price-fixed $38 lunch menu--a bargain compared to the $168 dinner tasting menu.
If you can't get into Jean Georges, try Nougatine, the hotel's more casual (yet still refined) restaurant, also overseen by Jean Georges.
Those who are seeking a bit more privacy can order Jean George's cuisine right to their rooms 24 hours a day. Alternatively, you could also pick up some fresh ingredients nearby and cook (all 176 guest rooms and suites have fully-equipped kitchens and dining areas). Or the hotel can arrange to have a chef come to your suite and cook a personal gourmet meal.
With its breathtaking seventh-floor views, glass art by Dale Chihuly, and inviting dining room, NoMI Kitchen at The Park Hyatt Chicago has a lot to distract diners, but its the simple, fresh, flavorful food by chef Ryan LaRoche that really wows. LaRoche serves regionally-sourced farm-to-table fare to create such dishes as American Wagyu hanger steak or NoMI Kitchen risotto with lamb sausage and rock shrimp.
The restaurant, which used to be French-inspired, recently underwent a renovation that transformed it to a casually elegant dining destination that's committed to 'the culture of great food.'
In addition to the fine restaurant, there's also NoMI Lounge, NoMI Garden, and NoMI Wine Cellar--all of which serve excellent food and wine.
Aspen has become an international destination known not only for its incredible skiing but also for its role as the host of the annual Food & Wine Classic, which sees chefs from all over the world congregate here to show off their culinary creations.
The St. Regis Aspen Resort decided to take advantage of its prime location and connection to the festival with the opening of its new restaurant, Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE. The hotel teamed up with FOOD & WINE magazine to create this revolutionary restaurant which literally brings the magazine to life.
The restaurant evokes an upscale ski lodge, with its wood paneling, brown leather chairs, and winter-inspired design.
Each year, FOOD & WINE editors will select a group of 'Best New Chefs'--a prestigious designation from the magazine--to create a new seasonally-inspired menu for the restaurant. The chefs selected this year are George Mendes of Aldea in New York City; James Lewis of Bettola in Birmingham, Alabama; Alex Seidel of Fruition in Denver, Colorado; and Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's in New Orleans, Louisiana. A new batch of 'Best New Chefs' will take over the menu for the fall/winter season (the menu changes twice a year to take advantage of the seasonal ingredients).
The menu will also feature custom cocktails and wine pairings crafted by the editors of FOOD & WINE.
Located on Vegas's famed Strip, the MGM Grand has everything you'd expect from a glitzy Vegas hotel: gambling, over-the-top shows and spectacles (there's a glassed-in lion's den in the lobby), and fine dining galore.
But the crown jewel in the hotel's dining empire is French chef Joël Robuchon's eponymous restaurant, Joël Robuchon. Robuchon was named France's Chef of the Century by the esteemed Gault Millau restaurant guide and this is his first restaurant in the United States, so it's no surprise that it's been showered with accolades: it has 3 Michelin Stars, the AAA 5 Diamond Award, the Forbes 5 Star Award, and Wine Spectator's Grand Award.
The restaurant is romantic, decorated in rich purple tones and velvety fabrics with soft lighting and comfortable plush seating. Dining here isn't cheap--tasting menus start at $120 per person for two courses--but Robuchon's food is said to be ethereal. Try the truffled langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage; it's a signature dish.
Like nearly all Vegas hotels on The Strip, Mandalay Bay has its own signature gimmick: a shark reef aquarium, which guests can actually swim in if they're so inclined.
But go beyond the gimmick and you'll find some of the best restaurants in Vegas housed in this resort. There are numerous celebrity chef-run restaurants, including Fleur by Hubert Keller; Lupo, Wolfgang Puck's first Italian restaurant; Rick Moonen's RM Seafood; Charlie Palmer Steakhouse; and Charlie Palmer's Aureole, among others.
Mandalay Bay is a veritable one-stop shop for celebrity chef dining. But there are also more low-key dining options here, including an Irish pub, various cafes, an ice cream shop, and a poolside grill.
For people seeking more luxury and privacy, there's a Four Seasons resort within the hotel. Guests access the exclusive hotel by private elevators that go to the top of the Mandalay Bay Tower.
The sleek Andaz West Hollywood boutique hotel emphasises style, design, and innovation--it's very L.A.
The hotel was once a landmark West Hollywood hotel famous for its raging parties hosted by the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. Today the Andaz West Hollywood pays tribute to its glamorous past with cool Hollywood decor while still maintaining a relaxed vibe.
The hotel is home to RH, a hot restaurant that takes advantage of the local bounty by serving fresh, farm-to-table cuisine made with California ingredients and French gastronomic influences. The menu changes regularly based on whatever's fresh.
Originally opened in 1928 and later immortalised in the 1980s film Pretty Woman, the Beverly Wilshire remains one of the pre-eminent hotels in swanky Beverly Hills. Today, it's been updated and modernized, and it's managed by the high-end Four Seasons chain.
The Beverly Wilshire is located near what is arguably the world's most elite shopping strip--Rodeo Drive--but the hotel is a destination in itself for foodies and shoppers, who come for the incredible steak at CUT, Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse. CUT was named the #1 Steakhouse in L.A. by Zagat and one of the Top 100 Wine Restaurants of 2012 by the Wine Enthusiast. Even though this is a classic steakhouse serving all things beef, it's also a hip design-conscious eatery where diners come to see and be seen.
The hotel also has several other restaurants, including Sidebar, a lounge by Wolfgang Puck; The Blvd, where the outdoor patio is perfect for people-watching; and a Pool Bar & Cafe.
Located in Charleston's historic district, Charleston Place embodies southern charm and hospitality.
This Orient-Express boutique hotel has opulent guest rooms, a luxurious spa, high-end shops, and one of the finest restaurants in Charleston.
Charleston Grill, which has received the Forbes 4 Star Award and the AAA Four-Diamond Award, is widely considered one of the best restaurants in foodie-friendly Charleston. Chef Michelle Weaver takes her own approach to traditional Lowcountry cuisine, creating unique and exciting dishes such as seared flounder with buttery grits and shrimp, sherry-country ham gravy, and tomato-basil salad or grilled peach salad with country ham and candied pecans.
Though it's known for its golf--the 2012 PGA Championship will be played there--Kiawah Island Golf Resort is home to some stellar restaurants that serve over-the-top extravagant meals.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is the only hotel on beautiful, residential Kiawah Island, located about 28 miles from Charleston. It's modelled after a traditional historic southern mansion with opulent furnishings and traditional decor. The vibe is laid-back luxury.
The resort's steakhouse, The Ocean Room, serves local South Carolina grass-fed beef in an elegant dining room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The restaurant has earned various accolades, including a AAA 4 Diamond award, a Forbes 4 star rating, and Wine Spectator's 'Best of Award of Excellence' in 2010/2011.
There are more casual options here too, like Jasmine Porch, serving down-home southern food, and a beachside ice cream shop, Beaches & Cream.
Between its high-end offerings like Hakkasan (a gourmet Chinese restaurant) and Gotham Steak and its more casual options like Blade (a sushi restaurant) and Fresh (a gelataria), the food options at the Fontainebleu Miami Beach are diverse and varied.
This glitzy, Las Vegas-style mega hotel harks back to the golden era of Miami: the '50s and '60s, when the rat pack ran wild and it was normal to spot the likes of Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, and Elizabeth Taylor in the lobbies and nightclubs here.
Today the hotel is no less swanky or sceney, but the scene has shifted to accommodate today's young, hip, and sexy.
Napa Valley is an oenophile's dream, and where there is good wine, there is usually good food. That's certainly the case at Meadowood, a small inn in Napa Valley that's home to The Restaurant at Meadowood.
The Restaurant at Meadowood, which has the highest honour of 3 Michelin stars, recently reopened after undergoing an extensive renovation that updated and redesigned the bar, dining room, and kitchen. The dining room is elegant, with clean lines and simple yet luxe furnishings. The focus is heavily on the food.
The modern American cuisine served here takes advantage of Napa Valley's abundant fresh ingredients and incredible wine. Even the dishes themselves are made from locally-sourced pottery and woodwork. Tasting menus begin at $225 per person (for 8-9 courses); wine pairings cost an additional $225 per person.
After an elaborate and satiating meal at the restaurant, flop into one of the comfortable beds in either the cozy lodges, elegant suites, or spacious lodges nestled in the woods.
The Inn at Little Washington, a member of the luxe Relais & Châteaux brand, is a quaint 18-room hideaway in the historic town of Washington, Virginia. The inn was recently ranked one of the top inns in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards.
The inn evokes the feel of a charming English cottage, with its four-poster beds, wood-burning fireplaces, and manicured gardens.
The charm extends to the hotel's restaurant, which is renowned for its cuisine, service, and whimsical ambiance. Chef Patrick O'Connell uses local seasonal ingredients to craft sophisticated and creative dishes like Local Cantaloupe Sorbet with Ribbons of Virginia Country Ham and Grilled Black Mission Figs and Pecan Crusted Barbecued Short Rib Paired with a Miniature Filet Mignon Wrapped in Swiss Chard. The menu changes daily.
There's also an extensive wine list, with over 2,400 varietals from around the world--and there's a sommelier on staff to help pair your meal with the perfect bottle of wine.
Located on the 'elbow' of Cape Cod, this 120-room resort has all the amenities you'd want on the Cape: outdoor pools, beach access, charming gardens, boating and water sports, tennis courts, an 18-hole championship golf course, and excellent restaurants.
But it's also home to one of the only fine-dining restaurant on the Cape worth dressing up for: 20-Eight Atlantic, which has won numerous awards from AAA, Forbes, and Zagat. This waterfront restaurant serves superb New American food, like Caramelized scallops with black quinoa and cataloupe or roasted local cod with white beans and steamed clams. Dine either outdoors on the sprawling patio or in the very New England-themed dining room, which has a yacht-like feel with its Shaker-style furnishings and nautical themed decor.
The resort also has Thoreau's, a club-like bar; Libaytion, a sleek outdoor bar; and several outdoor cafes serving casual fare.
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