Building a Better Hotel Restaurant

We were delighted with the Daily Meal’s list of the 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World.

Why has hotel dining gotten so much better over the last 10 years? The main reason is that hotel investors no longer just look at RevPAR – they look at the ‘Transactional Value’ of each guest and what the entire guest spend is during the stay. Hotels that get a healthy contribution from F&B demand higher multiples.

Secondly, restaurants that bring in local traffic produce long-term positive results for the hotel in terms of brand recognition and differentiating the overall hotel offering.

Our experience with multiple hotel restaurant clients tells us the following ideas help ensure a hotel restaurant’s success.

Placing Yourself Among the Best Hotel Restaurants

AutonomyRestaurant Kitchen Line

Kimpton Hotels learned many years ago that the hotel restaurant had to operate as a separate business if it were to compete with the local independents. Kimpton essentially operates the hotels and restaurants independently of each other. This ensures that the concepts stand on their own, are chef-driven, and the restaurant doesn’t get stalled from top-down decision-making, which is geared to satisfying hotel guests and corporate accounts. It also instills a much more transparent sense of competition from within the brand.


Other hotel companies have found value by bringing in seasoned independent groups like Starr Restaurant Organization, Culinary Concepts by Jean George, and Michael Mina to operate the restaurants. These organizations bring marketing and operating know-how that most hotel companies don’t have. Moreover, they have track records in similar markets and expose the hotel to the base of business they have built for years.

Separate and Not Equal

Nothing kills the luxury vibe of a fine-dining restaurant more than watching servers reset the dining room for breakfast. Or, an orphaned breakfast buffet sitting like a coffin in the middle of the dining room. Or, seeing hotel-uniformed staff hustling Room Service trays though the dining room. These, and other hotelesque cues, tell the diner this is really a three-meal-a-day hotel restaurant. Every visible aspect needs to project that the restaurant is unique.

Water cafe at eveningSense of Place

The best hotel restaurants draw from the locale. Menus that still have hotel classics like a Turkey Club and a Caesar Salad because “that’s what hotel guests want” will undermine the concept by trying to serve two masters. If you must offer the old standbys, keep it separate.



Happening Bar

A vibrant happy hour allows locals and hotel guests alike to sample the concept. No one wants to sit in a vacuous dining room, but most feel comfortable at a bar or cocktail table to assess their options.

Keeping a Pulse on the Guest Experience

Mystery shopping and social media monitoring are great tools used by many restaurants to continuously measure guest service and feedback. Top performing independents and hotel restaurants have long embraced gathering structured guest feedback though mystery shopping.

Social media monitoring on the other hand is a tool that up until recently has been dominated by hotel restaurants. To their credit, hotel restaurants have been using social media to their advantage. “Hotels have operationalized online reputation management and GMs and DOSMs understand that reading and responding to reviews and social media does drive bookings” says Michelle Wohl, Vice President of Marketing for Revinate, a leading provider of hotel and restaurant online reputation management software. “Hotel restaurants, that have been a part of that culture for a few years now, are very active when it comes to social media. Independent hotels, whether due to resources or lack of understanding, are slower to respond to the trend.” she continued.

Hotel restaurants are listening closely to their guests and adapting to the feedback they receive. Perhaps this plays a role in their popularity?

Hats off to our many clients who appeared on the list!

As to my favorite, while I have many, I give the nod to Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons Baltimore. The energy and vibe is all Baltimore Harbor and the menu provides innovative takes on all that is Chesapeake. My favorite bar still is Purple Bar in London where I still remain unsure if the sense of weightlessness you feel there is from the ‘space pod’ like environs or the meticulously crafted cocktails.

I urge all readers to tell us your favorite hotel restaurant or bar in the comments below.

© 2024 Coyle Hospitality Group. Reproduction of any material without written authorization is strictly prohibited.

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