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7 hotel restaurants you'll be talking about for years
Michelin stars and starched tablecloths are fine. But these hotels take your dinner and turn it into a life experience
Most hotel restaurants don’t inspire huge thrills.
We barely even take pictures of our hotel food.
Standard menus (burger or chicken fingers?) and pastel dining rooms are more likely to have you smacking your face than your lips.
Some hotel restaurants, however, offer unique experiences and are worth the trip alone.
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Velassaru Resort (Maldives)
The luxury resort’s private dining options are all pretty great, but it’s the satay barbecue experience that stands out.
Sand-formed chairs on the beach might seem gimmicky, but they're actually fantastic.
A four-course Indonesian feast is served at sunset and comes with a dedicated chef and waiter.
Longitude 131 (Australia)
With eternal Ayers Rock in the background, guests at this high-end outback hotel get a candlelit dinner under the stars.
As diners try native bush dishes featuring crocodile, kangaroo and barramundi, a didgeridoo plays in the background and a traditional dance performance provides a look at local Aboriginal culture.
Longitude 131, 1 Yulara Dr., Yulara NT, Australia; rooms from $1,560; +61 8 8957 7131
Soneva Kiri Resort (Gulf of Thailand)
Once seated within the cozy bamboo dining pod at this beautiful retreat, guests are hoisted six meters into the air through a pulley system so they can feast among the treetops of an ancient rainforest.
Waiters swing to and fro delivering baskets of wine and food via zip line.
Soneva Kiri Resort, 110 Moo 4, Koh Kood Sub-District, Koh Kood District, Trat, Thailand; rooms from $550; +66 (0)3961 9800
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Hotel Ristorante Grotta Palazesse (Italy)
Located within a vaulted limestone cavern, this waterfront restaurant in Polignano a Mare on the Adriatic Sea in southern Italy annually charms thousands of visitors between May and October.
Sitting 22 meters above the Adriatic Sea, diners get amazing views from this spacious cave.
Seafood and Mediterranean dishes are house standards, but few bother to notice the food.
Hotel Ristorante Grotta Palazesse, Via Narciso, 59, Polignano a Mare (Bari), Puglia; rooms from $150; +39 (0)80 4240677
Conrad Maldives (Maldives)
Amazing ocean views have put Ithaa, the Conrad Maldives' famed underwater restaurant, on numerous travel "best of" lists.
Five meters below the water’s surface with 180-degree views of coral marine life, if this ultra-cool restaurant doesn't impress your date, get a new date.
Kids are welcome for lunch, but not dinner.
Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island, Maldives; rooms from $490; +960 668 0629
Treetops Lodge (Rotorua, New Zealand)
The wild food packages at this serene New Zealand retreat offer guests the chance to partake in a 4WD safari to observe the estate’s varied wildlife before being led to forage in the bush for fresh herbs and spices.
Organic ingredients collected are used by the lodge’s acclaimed chefs to create the evening's dishes.
Dinner is served al fresco in front of a cascading waterfall.
Treetops Lodge, 351 Kearoa Road, RD1, Horohoro, Rotorua, New Zealand; rooms from $900; +64 7 333 2066
lebua at State Tower (Bangkok)
On the 63rd floor of this soaring five-star hotel, Sirocco is the world’s highest al fresco restaurant. It offers gorgeous panoramas of Bangkok.
In addition to the acclaimed Mediterranean-inspired fare, live music helps create a dream-like atmosphere.
As you'd expect, dinner with a view as spectacular as this one is popular -- reservations are recommended at least a week in advance.
Lebua at State Tower, 1055 Silom Road, Bangrak, Bangkok; rooms from $135; +66 2624 9999
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Originally published June 2013. Updated October 19, 2013.