Listopedia: once in a lifetime restaurants to visit around the World
Forget four walls and fancy fit outs, fine dining has broken free of the restaurant and run wild. From the sand dunes of the Dubai desert to the ocean floor in the Maldives, here’s Expedia’s Listopedia of the world’s most unusual dining experiences.
Under the Sea – Ithaa, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
Just like the song goes, the world’s first underwater restaurant sits “down where its wetter”, five metres below sea level to be precise. The domed frame of Ithaa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali is completely see through, so you can watch the sea life swim past while you indulge in a four course lunch or a six course dinner. Modern European cuisine is painstakingly brought down to your table, where you’ll be so distracted by giant manta rays and clusters of clown fish that you’ll probably miss your mouth with the fork a few times. The restaurant was originally shipped over from Singapore and sunk with 80 tonnes of sand – to this day it’s an impressive feat of engineering that requires daily cleaning by a team of scuba divers.
Under the Stars – Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa
After a day driving around the wilds of South Africa, the last thing you’ll feel like doing is being tucked up inside. The wilderness of South Africa is literally on your doorstep at Londolozi, where there are no fences between you and the roaming animals. Don’t worry, the staff won’t let a baboon burst in on your boma – the traditional wooden enclosures are the setting for a dinner under the stars. The circular space is filled with tables set for two, with hurricane lamps and tiki flames providing just enough light for you to enjoy your flame grilled steak without taking away from the plethora of stars laid out in the sky.
Sit under the sails – Bennelong, Sydney, Australia
We’re not talking about supper on a sail boat. The sails of the Sydney Opera House are the dramatic setting for Bennelong Restaurant. One of Sydney’s finest dining establishments, Bennelong has a reputation for food as fine as its five star view. Request a table right up against the glass as you work through a menu showcasing the best of Australian produce. The Opera House-inspired pavlova is a must for dessert.
Dune Dining – Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa, Dubai, UAE
If you’re keen to escape Dubai’s towering sky scrapers and high rise hotels, head straight to the Al Maha resort. Tucked into the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, the resort blends into its surrounds, with a low impact design that includes an oasis-like pool and tented restaurants. Get even closer to the desert with a private picnic dinner in the dunes. Now this is no ordinary picnic – a Persian rug is more appropriate as a magic carpet – but you’ll sink your feet into the expensive thread count as you sit down at a table for a meal to be remembered. White table cloth, fine china, champagne buckets, rug and lanterns are all in place when you arrive for your meal under the stars.
Over water dining – Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Bali, Indonesia
We’re not talking about your standard over water dining experience – this five star resort tucked into the lush Sayan Valley offers an extra special experience. The hotel’s rooftop lotus pond is turned into a private open-air dining room for two during a romantic evening you won’t forget any time soon. Sit perched on a wooden platform out in the middle of the pond, surrounded by candles and look out across the lotus flowers to the rainforest and Ayung River below.
Cable cuisine – Cable Car Sky Dining, Singapore
Who said you had to be stationary while you sit down to dinner? Brining new meaning to a meal with a view, Singapore’s famous Cable Car offers a 90 minute dining experience that’s definitely different. Your own private cable car is set up for a romantic four course meal that starts as you descend down from Faber Peak across to Sentosa Island. You’ll complete three circuits of the cable whilst wining and dining.
Tree top dining – Nest, PER AQUUM NIYAMA, Maldives
The Maldives is possibly the last place you’d expect to be sitting in a tree canopy but at this hotel’s new restaurant, you’ll forget you’re in a tropical paradise within minutes of walking through the front archway. We say archway because there are no doors at Niyama’s Nest– only a garden path that winds its way past ancient banyan tree trunks and up a wide spiral staircase onto platforms tucked between the trees. The Asian fusion menu takes its design cues from the surrounds – sake hibiscus cocktails are garnished with ice nests, chicken lemongrass skewers are grilled over coconut husks and the signature dessert, a Luwak coffee brulee, is made using the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, made in Indonesian rainforests.
A floating feast – Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Mexico
The Riviera Maya’s network of rivers and rainforests are a world away from Cancun’s party beaches and one of the best ways to experience them are aboard the Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s traditional trajinera. The gondola-like boat is a lot more sedate than the brightly coloured versions you’ll find floating through Mexico City’s canals. With a daybed for two on the bow and a thatched roof, the boat floats through the canals as you devour breakfast or lunch, made to order by the hotel’s chefs.
In-ocean dining – Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania, Australia
Arguably one of the most unusual settings for a meal is the white linen-clothed table you’ll find waiting for you in the water at Coles Bay. You’ll scoff fresh oysters and sip bubbles in the private tasting by Freycinet Marine Oyster Farm, which happens in ankle deep water. The tasting experience is just one of many at Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania’s ultra luxe resort which sprawls in the shape of a giant sting ray above Coles Bay.
Snow dining – Cloud 9 Alpine Bistro, Aspen Highlands, Colorado, America
In a ski resort that draws a serious celebrity clientele, the restaurant menus are almost as important as the mountains. Almost. French champagne and fondue are the lunch of choice at Aspen Highland’s must visit on-mountain eatery, Cloud 9. Whether the bubbles are served chilled straight from the giant ice blocks on the deck or inside the quaint mountain cabin, a long lunch here can easily lead into après drinks. Just remember, you still need to ski down. If you don’t want to sip and ski, book in to one of the special Snowcat Dinners, which includes return snowcat transfers.