To coincide with the release of Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s new cookbook, SLH has identified some of the best food experiences at its member hotels including out-of-this-world dining locations, memorable sensory experiences, creative menus, and rare ingredients.
While SLH hotels are by nature small, some with just three rooms, their inherent connection to the destinations in which they are located naturally leads them to champion local resources, techniques, and flavors. Hotel restaurants range from relaxed family-style gatherings where guests can get a taste of recipes passed down through generations, to world-class fine dining prepared by internationally recognized chefs. More than 90 SLH hotels have restaurants that carry Michelin stars or awards of similar global acclaim.
Ranging from Zen dining in the Maldives to a picnic in the park with a private butler, these 21 hotels offer some of the world’s most unforgettable food experiences.
Best Hotel Food Experiences Around the World
Opened in March 2018 by vegan chef Matthew Kenney, Alibi at Ovolo Woolloomoloo is Sydney´s first plant-based restaurant featuring dishes such as kimchi dumplings with sesame and ginger, heirloom tomato and zucchini lasagna with pistachio pesto and hibiscus strawberry cheesecake. The cocktail menu includes an Enchanted Forest cocktail that took the Alibi bar team eight months to create involving an infusion of fresh Portobello mushrooms and absinthe foam made from green apples.
Lech Am Arlberg, Austria
The Kristiania Lech Hotel offers curated gourmet experiences such as a romantic picnic in the snow arranged by a ski valet. An Arabian-style rug adorned with soft colorful pillows, romantic candles, and warm fur blankets is set up in the snowy field near the hotel so guests can enjoy Austrian delicacies, light snacks, and Champagne amid a spectacular scenery.
San Ignacio, Belize
Guests at Ka’ana Resort in San Ignacio, Belize, can learn to prepare classic Maya dishes like tamales, corn tortillas and caldo using the forgon, an authentic Maya stove. Classes are followed by a Maya-themed dinner hosted in an authentic Belizean kitchen.
Nestled on Pissouri Bay, Columbia Beach Resort hosts a series of themed Full Moon dinners on the beach every summer. From Vintage Moon, Pink Moon, Harvest Moon to Sturgeon Moon, the resort’s chef, Ioannis Giakoumidis creates a delectable multi-course menu reflective of the one-night-only theme with matching décor and music.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Exclusive to guests at Casas del XVI, Polo fans can enjoy breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant “Casa Del Arbol” in the company of the polo team La Bienvenida. After feasting on cinnamon, chocolate chip, and banana pancakes, they can enjoy a private polo lesson at the wonderful Sierra Prieta Polo Club. La Bienvenida is a Dominican polo team founded in 2012, which has achieved national and international recognition. In 2018, it won the national polo tournament of the Dominican Republic, becoming the number one team in the country.
Guests staying at Hotel St Petersbourg in Tallin can enjoy a true taste of Estonian cuisine in the hotel’s restaurant The Golden Piglet Inn with recipes that have been passed down through generations and Estonian drinks. Some of the highlights on the menu are the Witch’s Casserole combining mashed potatoes, wild mushroom sauce, and cheese, elk stewed with wild mushrooms and dark beer and the ‘sausage feast’ which includes the famous Estonian blood sausage made with a mixture of pork, barley, animal blood, and spices. The inn also features local music performances so guests can really immerse themselves in Estonian culture during dinner.
French Alps, France
A paradise for cheese lovers, Le M de Megeve´s restaurant “Les Grand Crus de Fondues” includes a cheese expert which guides guests in creating their personalized fondue based on taste characteristics such as “floral hints”, “hints of hazelnut”, “burnt wood aroma” or “honey palate”.
With the help of the expert, guests can create their own fondue from a selection of regional cheeses such as Comte, Vacherin, Gruyere or LÉtivaz as well as the perfect base choosing from ingredients such as Carlsberg beer for a smoother taste or spicy and resin meat stock for a strong and animal flavor. The fondues can be paired with a wide choice of condiments ranging from new potatoes and chives, snails with garlic to Perigord truffles, pineapples, raspberries, and artichokes as well as hazelnut bread.
Once per month, guests at Les Sources de Caudalie can enjoy a guided walk through the forest with arborist José Le Piez and musician Patricia Chatelain who use meditation techniques such as Shinrin –Yoku (Japanese style therapy known as tree-hugging) to help visitors connect with nature. The immersive experience is followed by a vegetal lunch at the hotel’s ROUGE restaurant featuring dishes made of local flowers and plants including nettle soup with wild daisy and strawberry gazpacho with Immortelle flower ice cream.
Domaine Des Etangs, nestled in 1000 hectares of protected natural surroundings including forest, grassland, and ponds, offers a wide variety of enchanting settings and taste experiences through which guests can savor Michelin star Chef Fabien Beaufour’s cuisine. Guests will especially relish the experience of having a barbecue set up for them in the heart of a forest beneath the boughs of the ancient and magical thousand-trunk tree where they can enjoy a menu of succulent meats and vegetables grilled over a fire.
Guests at the Archipelagos can experience a true taste of mythological Greece with the restaurant´s Gastrosophy degustation menu (six to nine courses) created by Chef Dimitris Papadimitriou where ancient ingredients such as Vrasto cheese, Centaurea (form of artichoke), Crithmum (sea fennel) and Crocus Sativus (an ancient spice valued for its aphrodisiac properties) are blended into modern recipes. Each dish is paired with exceptional wines made from ancient Greek varieties to ensure guests are transported back in time.
Housed in the oldest part of Relais San Lorenzo, the hotel’s Hostaria restaurant is located within an archaeological site of Roman and Medieval origins dating from 300BC, including walls and wells from the Middle Ages. The historical building provides a pleasant contrast to Chef Antonio Cuomo’s modern cuisine which is well-rooted in the traditional flavors of the Bergamo tradition and includes specialty dishes such as homemade ravioli prepared with melted butter, salvia and crispy bacon.
The Tokyo Station Hotel houses the Café and Shop Toraya Tokyo part of the Toraya brand which is a famous Japanese confectionery dating back from the 16th century. Guests can purchase Wagashi (artistic Japanese confections made of azuki bean paste) with hotel original designed package from the shop or indulge in a full menu of Japanese desserts in the cafe including the Earl Grey Manju, a steamed bun containing Earl Grey tea or the Pear Caramel Yokan, a thick and jellied dessert made of red azuki beans, homemade caramel and brandy-accented pear compote.
Guests with a sweet tooth will love the Chilled Bean Soup sweetened with wasambon sugar and topped with shiratama dumplings or the Azuki & Cacao Fondant combining smooth azuki bean paste and chocolate, with hints of cinnamon and port wine.
The novel concept of dining in a pop-up restaurant takes on a new dimension at Baros Maldives with a pop-up restaurant located on a secluded sandbank outside the resort’s lagoon in the Indian Ocean. Guests are taken to the sandbank by boat to be greeted with a glass of champagne in time to watch a magnificent sunset. Seven chefs are on hand to prepare guests’ choices from the a la carte menu of a Maldivian, Mediterranean or Tandoori Seafood Platter for two, or a Mixed Grill Platter of Foie Gras, Beef, Lamb and Chicken. There is also a Salad Bar and a Sushi and Sashimi Station.
Baa Atoll, Maldives
At Milaidhoo Island Maldives, the resort offers five different curated mood dining menus paired with wellness treatments including special baths, meditation and spa treatments to transport guests into a state of Zen. Called ‘Deep Sleep’, ‘Getting into the Milaidhoo Mood’, ‘Sunrise Awakening’, ‘Curious Adventures’ and ‘Sunset Chill’, each menu is offered at a specific location on the island, which has been designed to change a person’s mood. The most popular option to date is the ‘Deep Sleep’ mood, which addresses both physical and mental hurdles that prevent a good night’s sleep. It begins with a peaceful spa treatment followed by a light dinner served in the guest’s villa with a menu designed to encourage sleep.
After the dinner, Milaidhoo’s resident yogi leads the guests in a private moonlight meditation session on the deck of their villa to calm and slow the mind. The evening ends with a scented candlelit bath as the drop in body temperature after a bath triggers the body’s need to sleep.
Dar Ahlam in Ouarzazate can customize and serve meals to guests choosing from a selection of distinct, private settings to ensure they never dine in the same place twice and no meal is ever the same. One of the settings available to guests is an intimate candlelit dinner for two in the Sahara Desert where guests can watch the beautiful scenery and the canopy of stars surrounding them from atop a sand dune. Meals are curated from 450 gourmet recipes created by the likes of Frédérick Grasser-Hermé, Philippe Conticini, Frédéric Eyrier, Cédric Nieuvarts, and Thierry Alix, with desserts by the incomparable Pierre Hermé.
Guests are led to dinner by their waiters and a path of lanterns dotted along the sand before joining their table located next to a roaring fire pit. After dinner, guests can sleep in a canvas tent featuring African reed mats, Berber cushions, and vintage camp decor, plus an en-suite bathroom with toilet, mirror, and sink.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Available to guests at Hulbert House in New Zealand, the ‘Milford Sound Luxury Day Cruise’ brings travelers into the heart of Fiordland by helicopter before they board a luxurious cruise with on-deck hot-tubs where they can enjoy a delightful seafood lunch prepared by a private chef with crayfish, blue cod, bluff oysters. After lunch, guests can use the ROV to view the unique underwater creatures of the fiord or enjoy some kayaking to get up close to the many waterfalls pouring off the towering sea cliffs.
Guests staying at the Storfjord Hotel can enjoy panoramic views of Storfjorden, one of the largest fjords in Norway and the Sunnmore Alps combining majestic mountains, alpine rock formations and lakes swarming with fish. They can also visit a local fjord farm where they’ll be able to taste food which has been hunted, fished and harvested from the surrounding woods and mountains and prepared using traditional techniques. The visit also includes a lesson in traditional Norwegian baking taking place in the farm’s old bakery where guests can try their hands at making Norwegian flatbread, Nonsvik Lefse (potato pancake) or traditional Water Kringle (butter-layered pastries).
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Olive Boutique Hotel’s Sage Steak Loft restaurant headed by Chef Mario Pagan transforms classic steakhouse fare into playful dishes with a full menu of prime cuts, including filet mignon, Australian Wagyu and ribeye, seasoned with island flavours such as papaya, mango and guava ketchup and rounded off with creative side dishes including brie truffle mac and gnocchi made from blue yucca. Appetizers include a marrow on the bone with cucumber marmalade and bread served in a pork crackling crust.
London, United Kingdom
Guests at DUKES London can enjoy a picnic served by a butler at nearby Green Park or St James Park with a picnic basket curated by Michelin-starred chef Nigel Mendham and packed with traditional treats including sweet potato scotch eggs with goat’s cheese and caramelised onion, baked avocado quiche with cashew blue cheese, artisan cheese paired with scrummy chutneys and lemon posset with roasted hazelnut granola. There is also a children’s menu for little ones including pigs in blankets, homemade crisps, and a gluttonous strawberry trifle.
Cornwall, United Kingdom
Guests can catch their own dinner by going lobster potting on The Nare Hotel´s 38-ft classic motor launch the Alice Rose, or mackerel fishing on the Maggie O’Nare. They can spend the rest of the day exploring the Fal and Helford Rivers as well as the unspoiled waterways of the Roseland Peninsula while enjoying a delicious seafood picnic onboard.
Farncombe Estate, United Kingdom
Foxhill Manor´s motto is “whatever you fancy, wherever you fancy it”. Guests are greeted by Michelin-starred chef Matt Weedon on arrival so they can provide him with exact details on how they want their meal to be cooked even down to how they want their vegetables sliced. They can also access the cellar to select their own wine and enjoy their meal anywhere from the bath to the cinema room. Guests are also encouraged to pop in the kitchen at any time to ask the head chef to rustle up a bespoke menu for them.