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Hotel location - a curse for restaurants?

One of the restaurants I remember from the 90's which was particularly excellent never "made it big time". Have you ever heard of chef Ken Frank?

Come to think of it, Fenix was a hotel rooftop restaurant. (An a-ha moment.) Not the kind of place you normally find the very best fine dining.

Now, a beautiful hotel like the Claremont in Berkeley has an awful restaurant, Jordan's, and I would be hard-pressed to come up with a handful of good hotel restaurants. Which ones are they?

Great restaurants and terrible restaurants at top-tier hotels. Examples please.

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  1. Three of the four 4-stars in Washington, DC (Citronelle, Maestro, CitiZen) are located in hotels. The fourth is the Inn at Little Washington, which has its own Inn.
    Several second-tiers are also housed in hotels.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MakingSense

      Well, the Inn at Little Washington looks more like a bed and breakfast. (listed under my top 5, incidentally) Liked Citronelle, within walking distance. Used to live near Dumbarton Oaks. Never been to Maestro or CitiZen. Thanks.

    2. Great hotel restaurants:
      The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton
      Michael Mina at the St. Francis

      1. I have found that star ratings have little do do with food quality and everything to do with how fancy schmancy the place is. I think that hotel restaurants in towns with a high level of tourism will generally have better restaurants at hotels. I'm in Phoenix, and know that a good number of the top restaurants in town are located in hotels. The same was true when I lived down in Tucson.

        1. In Paris, two of the *** are in hotels
          - Le Cinq (in the Four Seasons)
          - Alain Ducasse (in Hotel Athenee)

          The Post (outside Lake Louise has terrific food, probably the best in the area)

          Weirdly, some of the best Italian food I have had was in at Ritz in Alcapoca (sp?)

          And doesn't the Ritz in Atlanta have a terrific restaurant?

          1 Reply
          1. re: orangewasabi

            Never been to any of those. Thanks.

          2. So far, you guys have only given me the exceptions. You win. More useful though, would be examples of terrible restaurants at good hotels. So I can avoid them. Like I said, Jordan's at the Claremont Resort and Spa. Gorgeous one of a kind hotel, dull expensive food. (Paragon in the same hotel, although a different category, has slightly better food, better people-watching, incomparable view, and costs much less.)

            1. Sure have, Ken Frank ran away from LA and has operated La Toque in Rutherford, CA attached to Rancho Caymus Inn for several years.
              Guess that would be another example of a successful place in a hotel.

              Fwiw, I don't believe in your premise.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I no longer believe in my premise either! I have an image in my head of a typical "hotel restaurant" which is possibly outdated.
                Also, my mistake - I never meant to include darling inns. I guess they are hotels, too, but "Rancho Caymus Hotel" wouldn't sound the same to me.

                The premise is also flawed since no self-respecting, talented chef would want to be a Bobby Flay.

                1. re: grocerytrekker

                  I generally think of hotel dining as subpar also. Overpriced, relatively bland examples of restaurant. Catering to the masses, so to speak and also, like most things in a hotel, taking advantage of the convenience factor to raise prices.

                  I travel a decent amount for work and haven't really found many hotel restaurants worth going to a second time. Since there are so many hotels with so many restaurants you're bound to find quality restaurants but i'd say they are the exception, not the rule.

                  1. re: grocerytrekker

                    In the past it was generally the case in the US. Not at all true in European and Asian capital cities where some of the best restaurants are located in grand hotels.

                    1. re: grocerytrekker

                      actually, the fact that we can list the few restaurants in hotels that are good supports our premise.

                      there are gazillion hotels with lousy food that I can't name and I have stayed in about 1/3 of them :-)

                      To be right the majority of time in the USA, avoid hotel restaurants. EXCEPT when there is well documented evidence to the contrary

                      1. re: orangewasabi

                        Good advice. I feel the same, orangewasabi. I can't name most of the awful hotel restaurants, and I wish I wrote the names down as I did for Prague.

                        BAD: Cerberus, Hanavsky's Pavilon, Staromestska Restaurace (can't remember which one was a hotel restaurant)

                  2. Chicago has quite a few good restaurants in hotels. Some of the ones located on ground floors aren't thought of locally as hotel restaurants even though they are in hotels.

                    Avenues, one of the best restaurants in Chicago, is in a hotel. Custom House and David Burke's Primehouse, both with a lot of buzz on the Chicago Area Board, are in hotels. A sampling of other quality restaurants located in hotels includes Atwood Cafe, 312 Chicago, Caliterra and Capital Grille.

                    1. The Eliot Hotel in Boston has Clio and Uni, both excellent restaurants (a little on the high-priced side).

                      1. I tend to agree. Two specific references (IMHO) are Chez Sophie Bistro in Saratoga Springs, NY - formerly a free standing restaurant of great reputation for years in Malta, NY (just down the road from Saratoga Springs. The other is Mario's of Boca, in FL now esconced in the Holiday Inn. No comparison to the former free standing location. Sad.

                        1. So many are there simply because a hotel must have a restaurant to get decently rated in some guides (like AAA) which don't take into consideration the quality of the restaurant.

                          1. The Claremont has never had a good restaurant. It belongs to the "our nice view is so nice we can charge a lot for mediocre food" category.

                            Three of my all-time favorite restaurants are in hotels: Cyrus is in the Les Mars Hotel in Healdsburg (rooms start at ~$600); Dio Deka is in the Hotel Los Gatos; The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton.