It’s no secret that where you eat a meal can really make a difference in how the food tastes. Pizza just tastes better in Rome.
Travelling to new destinations offers a great opportunity to not only discover new flavours but to try them in the places where they’re from, so you’ll get to experience fresher spices, local growers, and more.
, the Contributing Editor at National Geographic,
shares some stunning places that take “dinner with a view” to a whole other level.
Photo credit: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, The Maldives
People flock to the Maldives for the water. Divers and snorkelers rave about the clear waters and incredible marine life. And the properties that make their home here know that being in and around the water is a key selling point.
- Global Restaurant of the Year
- Luxury Unique Experience
- Luxury Resort Restaurant
The restaurant offers 180-degree panoramic views of the marine life and vibrant coral that surrounds it. You’ll have to reserve early and you can expect that a delicious 6-course set menu dinner based on European cuisine. Sure, you might feel slightly uncomfortable if you choose to dine on the lobster or caviar while you’re in there, but it’ll still be worth it for the atmosphere. Note that kids are welcome to join you at lunch but dinner is an adult-only affair. Also, don’t tap the glass.
When you’re not dining or looking at the fish, consider island hopping through the atolls, spending some quality time in the spa or learning to make local delicacies with a celebrity chef in his kitchen overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Photo credit: Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana
Spacewalker Restaurant, Punta Cana
Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts
has opened the first of what is expected to be several new properties in the Dominican Republic just over a year ago and families are loving it. The Punta Cana location features accommodations that can hold up to six people including an incredible wraparound swim-up suite that will make kids swoon. The Nickelodeon theme means that kids can meet their favourite character from shows like Paw Patrol
and Dora the Explorer
, get slimed alongside their parents and even sleep in a pineapple a la SpongeBob. The Pineapple Villa
is a 2-bedroom/3-bath pineapple-shaped accommodation with SpongeBob-themed modern amenities like marble bathrooms, outdoor showers, private gardens and private butlers.
But you could do all that and still make a huge mistake if you don’t reserve a meal at the Spacewalker restaurant
From the moment you enter the “intergalactic dining station” you are transported to outer space. Glow in the dark menus, space suits and more bring the theme to life. Staff members are dressed up like space characters, furniture is futuristic and though items like mac and cheese are on the menu, the way things are served and presented (think deserts that melt away right in front of you and metallic space tin serving plates…) will get the oohs and ahhs going.
Best of all: it's all-inclusive and only one of 10 gourmet restaurants on property, so you won’t have to worry about reaching for your wallet.
Photo credit: Aqua-Aston Hospitality
The Rim at Volcano House, Hawaii
The Rim at Volcano House
is perched on the edge of the continuously erupting Kilauea Volcano within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. While you dine, you can take in incredible views of the Halema’uma’u Crater. Dishes are all locally sourced so you can expect fresh fish, beef raised on the grasslands nearby, and vegetables from the coastal areas.
But before you even sit down to dine, you can explore the National Park. For more adventure, consider a Ranger-guided treks of Puapo‘o Lava tubes. It’s a challenging four-mile (6.4 km) trek with a 500-foot elevation change! If you do this you’re climbing down 15 feet into a lava tube, scrambling over rocks in the dark and crouch walking for about 25 feet in spots. Or you can relax with a drink in hand and watch the volcano bubble and burst while your friends do it.
Photo credit: Soneva Kiri Resort & Residences
Tree Pod Dining, Thailand
Thailand has some of the most beautiful tree canopies you can imagine. Lush jungles, golden beaches and peaceful villages make exploring a must. To truly get away from it all consider a trip out to Koh Kood. Less than 2,000 people call it home and connection with the mainland is minimal. Accommodations abound but you can go for barefoot luxury at Soneva Kiri
. The five star resort is set in the heart of the forest and will take you about an hour from Bangkok by private plane. Your villa comes with a private infinity pool, personal electric buggy and your “Mr/Mrs Friday” personal butler for that luxury-meets-Robinson Crusoe experience.
Then when it’s time to eat, take your luxury to new heights.
Tree Pod Dining
means that you and three of your closest friends can climb into a basket and be suspended 20 feet off the ground in private bamboo pods among the trees. The views are incredible. Suddenly you’re up in the very habitat everyone yearns to see with a bird’s eye view of the canopy and jungle beneath you.
Being up high doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing good eats. Meals feature all that Thai food you love and didn’t yet know you loved, sourced from the resort’s private garden and are delivered via a zip-lining waiter.
Photo credit: Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort
Waterfalls Restaurant, Philippines
You know how most restaurants have a no shoes, no service policy? Not at the Waterfalls Restaurant at Villa Escudero Resort and Plantation
. The resort is located in San Pablo City, about 3 hours south of Manila and it’s unique feature is the man-made Labasin Waterfall that towers over a collection of bamboo tables below. Come barefoot and be prepared to get wet in between courses of a traditional lunch. Your feet are in the water the entire time you’re eating. And when you’re done you can go for a dip and snap selfies at the base of the falls. If you want a real soaking, there’s a small pool nearby for swimming, bamboo rafting
and more. And the grounds of the former coconut plantation are lush and green providing the perfect tranquil backdrop for further exploration or to take in a cultural show. You can book a day tour package or opt for an overnight stay in one of the units on site.
Photo credit: SnowCastle of Kemi
Snowcastle of Kemi, Finland
In Finland, the SnowCastle of Kemi
is the largest Snow Castle Restaurant in the world seating about 200 guests. It’s built entirely out of fresh snow and ice each year and is only open between January and April. Each year the castle is themed. In 2018, it will be “Animal Wonderland” and visitors will want to tour the entire castle with its incredible ice and snow sculptures that reflect the theme. If you can’t make it this winter, stay tuned, there are plans to open a year-round version by the end of 2018.
Once inside you’ll be glad you made a reservation for the Snow Restaurant
. You can opt for a drink at the Ice bar (in a hand-made ice cup of course) or stay for a 3-course lunch while sitting on a fur covered ice bench that can include local favourites like Reindeer soup.
The Hotel de Glace, Quebec
Closer to home, just outside Quebec City there’s an ice hotel. Every year it’s redesigned and it's really popular with weddings and private functions, but you can stay overnight on an ice bed (base is ice but they do put a mattress on top) in one of the 44 themed rooms and suites. Things you need to know: temperatures can dip to -25 in Quebec and what you wear to sleep on your ice bed (!) is key. Too hot and you’ll sweat which will turn into humidity and make you colder. The good news it also has outdoor hot tubs and sauna offerings. And if you book the premium theme suite your ice hotel room comes with a fireplace. (Fun fact: They offer a backup room at a hotel in case you don’t make it through the night.) The Hotel de Glace
will be open between January and March.
O’Noir, Montreal and Toronto
What about changing your view by looking within? O Noir
has a location in Toronto and another in Montreal. You are led into a pitch black room where blind staff serve you French and Italian fare in total darkness. The idea is two-fold: an opportunity to live in another’s experience and also a heightened taste experience because one of your senses is restricted.