Whether it's artisanal picnic baskets, foraging tours or lobby vending machines that sell Pinot Noir (not Pringles), the best hotels are using food to attract discerning travelers.
In hotel lobbies across the country, guests can now help themselves to snacks, wine or cocktails from vending machines and minibars. At Atlanta’s Hotel Indigo, guests use their room keys to buy drinks in the lounge from a self-service Enomatic wine bar with notable selections like Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling from Washington State’s Columbia Valley. The lobby minibar of Public in Chicago -- celeb hotelier Ian Schrager’s first Midwestern hotel - -sells local snacks like Garrett Popcorn and handmade toffee from Cora Lee Candies.
Public is also home to the Pump Room restaurant that transforms into a 1930s-style supper club at night with small plates from superchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
A newcomer to the hotel food scene, the NoMad in New York City features a restaurant from the renowned team behind Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm’s menu focuses on family-style dishes cooked over an open hearth while mixologist Leo Robitschek creates cocktails with names like Hot Lips, a spicy drink made with pineapple, vanilla, mezcal and jalapeño-infused blanco tequila.
Also in New York, guests at the Mandarin Oriental can request picnic baskets curated by legendary chef and sustainable food activist Alice Waters of Chez Panisse for jaunts to nearby Central Park. A few items she's included so far: local artisan salumi, eco-chic bamboo cutlery, French radishes, rustic pizza Bianca and thyme-grilled quail. A portion of the proceeds supports her Edible Schoolyard program.
In a much larger example of the trend, some destinations will even organize field trips for guests to dive, fish and forage for ingredients. Local celebrity forager Raoul van Den Broucke helps guests at Tudor Farmhouse in Gloucestershire, England, gather wild edibles on walks. At the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis, chef Andreas Donnerbauer leads a dive for spiny lobsters in the Caribbean. A beach barbecue ends the day.
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