NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Make this vow for better travels in 2015: I will never eat in a hotel restaurant. Say it loud, mean it and you will be rewarded with better meals, lower prices and richer travel experiences.
Aren’t there exceptions? A few. If you are staying at Trump Central Park and you don’t eat at Jean Georges, you missed a good meal. Ditto if you are staying at the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale and you don’t eat at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak. In Las Vegas, frankly, much of the good eats in the town happen in hotels.
But for every exception - and, always, these are celebrity chef operations where the “name” is known to be hands on - there are literally thousands of bland, boring hotel restaurants that are better skipped. The only reasons to eat in a hotel restaurant is if you are lazy and, guilty as charged, I have done it myself more times than I wish to remember. Of course, it is also why I know there are much, much better choices in most towns.
Need convincing? Reason 1 to boycott hotel restaurants: “They are generally too expensive,” said frequent traveler Ian Aronovich, CEO of website GovernmentAuctions.org. That is true. A charcuterie board that costs $22 at a downtown Phoenix hotel costs $14 at lively Postino wine bar in Phoenix’s Central Avenue corridor. There honestly is no fathoming food and drink prices at most hotels, except to believe that the management thinks it has a captive audience and can price accordingly.
Travel writer Chris Backe, who blogs at One Weird Globe, weighed in similarly: “They're overpriced as all hell. F&B [hotel shorthand for Food and Beverage] is not only a revenue-driver, it's a money maker. More often than not, you can find the same or similar offerings outside the hotel for one-third the price - and with far less pretentiousness.”
Reason 2: “Locals never eat at a hotel restaurant - so if you're planning to get some of the local culture, neither should you,” said Wilko van de Kamp, a self-described professional traveler. Ask yourself this: if the people who live within walking distance of a particular hotel restaurant never eat there, what does that say?