Aspirational Fine Dining: The Four Best New Hotel Restaurants

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It used to be that hotel restaurants were reserved for the lone business traveler, forced to dine alone on a variable array of mystery meats and boring side dishes, but now even the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Victoria Beckham and Britney Spears pester their assistants to get a reservation at the hottest spots around the world – hotel restaurants. With celebrity chefs debuting new restaurants at the world’s finest hotels, hotel dining is no longer a dreaded experience, but a new hotspot for the who’s who of celebrity elite.

Booking your next trip may be more about the food than the actual accommodation. Getting a dinner reservation will be just as hard to nab as a luxury suite at these 5 star hotels, but well worth the effort.

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester

London

In the world of glitzy hotel restaurants, Alain Ducasse's work at Plaza Athenee and Monaco's Hotel de Paris reign supreme.
Ducasse's latest undertaking at London's Dorchester does little to maintain the existing ambiance of the hotel and instead recruits Patrick Jouin from previous work at the Plaza Athenee.

The result is a serene dining experience echoed through sand-colored walls with rosewood paneling and circular tabletops surrounded by low-back cushioned chairs. The room is ignited in numerous sculptural lighting features including a crystal-ensconced private dining room.
The only chef to have a three-star Michelin rating on three continents, Alain Ducasse master's fine French cuisine with resident chef Jocelyn Herland, lured away from Plaza Athenee. The two create a series of tasting menus including seven, four or three-course options with marinated scallops with black truffle sauce, Scottish Langoustines over julienned vegetables or fillet of beef with seared foie gras.

A strict dress code encourages coats for men and a culinary decree that sportswear be left at the gym.

Luce at the Intercontinental San Francisco

San Francisco

Located near San Francisco's Moscone Center, Luce is the flagship restaurant of the newly built Intercontinental San Francisco.
A sleek glass-encrusted structure located south of Market, a private restaurant entrance from the street ushers in a local crowd of curious foodies typically apprehensive to hotel eateries. The interior dining room is a towering space of dangling gold light fixtures above a beige-and-black marble floor with low banquette and tabletop seating.

The restaurant features a lively bar area, as well as a communal chef's table adjacent to the glass-enclosed kitchen.

At the helm of Luce is chef Dominique Crenn, a native French chef heralded by Esquire magazine as one of America's "Chefs to Watch."
Crenn delivers a seasonal California-Italian menu with organic seasonal influences delivered in a meticulously thought-out menu. A mix of land and sea, dishes like Black Ink Trofiette Carbonara (squid in black ink with a poached egg), seafood tartare and an aged ribeye topped with braised oxtail are impeccably presented with a wine list created by Michael Mondavi (Robert Mondavi's son).

MB Restaurant -- Aqua Resort

Cancun, Mexico

It's not the Cancun you once knew, at least not Aqua Resort, which is like a 371-room island of luxury directly on the shores of the Caribbean Sea.

Aqua is a new luxury offshoot of Grupo Posadas, the company that operates South America's collection of Caesar Park Hotels. The property is massive, stretching out on an expansive strip of pristine sand with head-on ocean views and some of the chicest common areas in the region.
Besides the five-star spa and eight resort pools with private cabanas and beachside DJ lounge, there are the culinary delights of MB Restaurant, created by Michelle Bernstein.

Michelle Bernstein is well known to North American foodies as a former James Beard nominee, guest judge on Top Chef and owner of Michy's in Miami. MB Restaurant spins Bernstein's signature Cuban-inspired comfort food with a locally sourced menu of organic ingredients, regional specialties and sustainable produce. Seasonal specialty dishes include Tuna Tartar with chili oil and ginger, Spanish-style Shrimp and Toasty Garlic and Braised Short Ribs with polenta and Moroccan carrots.
Ago --

The Greenwich Hotel

New York

Hyped hotel openings are no new thing to New Yorkers, but few have opened with the type of fanfare and secrecy of The Greenwich Hotel. While New York restaurant spin-offs are an everyday occurrence, it's a rare occasion when an L.A. restaurant makes a New York debut.

With nighttime sunglasses and couture hoodies pulled around their heads, starlets and be-seen foodies are lining up for the new outpost of Ago (pronounced -- Ah-Go and co-owned by Robert DeNiro). For hotel guests who prefer to avoid the hype, the restaurant is also available through room service 24 hours a day.

Chef Agostino Sciandri debuts his famed Italian steakhouse in the Grayling-designed dining room, cast to recreate the eateries of Florence.
The dining room is lined in exposed brick walls with wood paneling and ceiling covered in over 90,000 corks that alludes to the restaurant's extensive wine list. The menu looks much like what one encounters at the new Vegas and waning L.A. outpost of the restaurant with organic salads, homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas and aged steaks cooked to perfection.

What is new is the Greenwich ambiance and N.Y. glitterati begging for any reservation they can get.

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