Luxury hotels usually have formal restaurants to match their elegant ambience, but some high-end properties are creating more relaxed and casual dining options for their guests.
The Berkeley hotel in London, for example, recently relaunched the two-Michelin-star “Marcus” by chef Marcus Wareing with white and cream interiors that are meant to be less stodgy than the earlier dark-hued walls, furniture and floor. And instead of most diners following a coat-and-tie dress code, the new style is called “smart casual.” Also in London, the Fera at Claridge’s opened in early May in a space formerly occupied by Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s. Gone are the tablecloths, jackets and fussy service. Diners in jeans are now welcome and even encouraged to come into the kitchen to interact with the chefs.
In New York, the famous King Cole Bar and Salon at the St. Regis New York underwent a renovation in which tablecloths were banished, the mahogany bar was replaced with one in black onyx, and the consulting chef John DeLucie devised a menu with less-refined bites like meatballs based on his grandmother’s recipe.
Glenmere Mansion, a Relais & Châteaux Property in Chester, now has Frogs End Tavern, a cozy publike spot with items such as gumbo and burgers, and the Hotel Hassler in Rome has opened the Palm Court Restaurant & Bar (an alternative to its Michelin-starred Imàgo), where diners wearing shorts can stop in throughout the day for a full meal or just a coffee or ice cream.
The shift away from fanciness is a direct result of traveler demand, said Albert Herrera, the senior vice president of global product partnerships for the luxury travel network Virtuoso.
“The ritual of formality has adapted to the changing palates of younger and more worldly travelers who want the choice of eating in a casual setting,” he said.