Our most memorable dining experiences
A Bedouin dinner under the Arabian stars, tasty tapas under a canopy of olive trees and spicy curry in a street food shack in Asia – one of the greatest pleasures of travelling is the culinary delights we find along the way. We asked some of our team to share some of their favourite foodie experiences on their travels.
Not surprisingly, our experts became starry-eyed when reminiscing about their gastronomical discoveries in the Maldives. It’s hard not to be swept away by the desert island backdrop, whether you’re picnicking on a private island, waking to a floating breakfast in your private pool or being wined and dined at a candlelit table for two on a secluded beach.
Natasha Lambourne-Smith said, “I was blown away on our first night at Velassaru Maldives. We started with champagne and canapés on the beach, sinking into comfy beanbags and listening to the sound of the surf. We were then led to a table at the Sands restaurant, where we savoured an amazing five-course meal by flickering candlelight. The service and attention to detail were second to none, and the food was all so delicious.”
If you’re a food lover, Kuramathi Maldives is an island our experts highly recommend. Opt for the Select All Inclusive package and you can take your pick from nine à la carte restaurants to dine in during your stay. Sharna McKay from our Kuoni Metro Centre store said, “A perfect day for foodies on Kuramathi would be starting with the generous buffet at breakfast. Then head to Palm for a tasty light lunch followed by a scoop (or two) of their refreshing homemade ice cream – there are over 20 flavours to choose from. Stop by the island coffee shop for afternoon tea and cake, and book a table at the Champagne Loft for sunset drinks and nibbles. For evening dinner, Island Barbecue is arguably the most popular restaurant with steaks flame-cooked before your eyes. I’d end the day at Fung Bar, where you can relax, toes buried in the sand, and watch an entertaining ‘Boduberu’ performance.”
South-East Asia is firmly on the food map as the birthplace of some of our favourite fragrant dishes. Indonesian cuisine is becoming increasingly popular, with fare such as Nasi Goreng, Rendang curry and Satay skewers appearing on the menu in both our homes and in the world’s top restaurants.
Elizabeth Winter, one of our Asia experts, recalls her most memorable meal in Bali. “Without a doubt, the degustation menu at Apéritif at the Viceroy Bali was my best dining experience. We were treated to an eight-course menu featuring the best of Indonesian flavours with innovative twists and turns. The restaurant in itself is striking; the atmosphere is reminiscent of the roaring twenties – think The Great Gatsby – with lavish leather furnishings and avant-garde artwork; there are also mesmerising views over the valley but the food easily steals the show”.
Of course, great food love stories don’t always have to be an extravagant affair. One of our experts, Linda Taylor, remembers a bustling street in Seminyak as the spot where she tasted her most moreish dish. “Eat Street in Seminyak is a bustling place brimming with small eateries. You can stroll around and take in the mouth-watering smells and lively atmosphere, stopping to have a browse in the quirky shops. Besides luscious local food you’ll find vendors serving up worldwide cuisine from Greek to Japanese. We found a small café called Ginger Moon where we discovered a local dish called Gado Gado. This flavourful salad was garnished with herbs from the ’café's own rooftop garden and was paired with succulent steamed buns. Obviously, it was washed down with a few dragon-fruit daiquiris. Stay at The Samaya Bali, and you’ll have the best of both worlds; a tranquil hideaway of luxury villas, yet just a 10-minute walk from the vibrant town centre”.
Caribbean expert Michelle Hepple is drawn back time and time again to her favourite tropical island, Barbados. She loves the warmth of the Bajan people, the endless sunshine and of course, the food:
“I stayed at Tamarind by Elegant Hotels, which has a fantastic dine-around programme. You can hop on the hotel’s speedboat (weather permitting) and have lunch at any of the sister resorts’ restaurants as part of your all-inclusive stay. The ‘stay in one, play in many’ concept applies to all seven of the Elegant Hotels and is a great way to experience some of the best resorts (and sunset views) on the west coast.
“On another visit, I booked a table at Sandy Lane for a special birthday treat. This iconic hotel, which is set behind a curtain of mahogany trees on a beautiful white-sand beach, hosts one of the island’s best brunches at its Bajan Blue restaurant. I arrived to find confetti sprinkled on our table and the attentive staff spoiled us. The Sunday brunch is an elaborate spread. I loved the Alaskan crab and oysters at the seafood bar and I made sure to try the full range of decadent miniature desserts.
“On the other end of the dining scale but equally as fun, is a trip to Oistins. This little fishing town comes alive at the weekend as both locals and tourists flock there to explore the seafood shacks, listen to calypso music and soak up the joyous atmosphere. Pull up a plastic stool and tuck into huge portions of fresh fish cooked right in front of you while sipping punchy rum cocktails. This is a true taste of Barbados. To be close to the action, stay at the brand new O2 Beach Club & Spa which is opening in September 2021. This trendy resort is bang in the heart of St Lawrence Gap, which has views stretching out over Oistins Bay, and is set to become the island’s new hotspot.”
Many of the closer-to-home Mediterranean countries have made quite a name for themselves with their culinary creations. Who doesn’t go to Italy without indulging in a slice or two of authentic wood-fired pizza? And what would a holiday to Greece be without a drizzle of olive oil over a fresh Greek salad?
Melissa Fritchley, who is based in our Kuoni Cheltenham store, talks fondly of her stay at the Grecotel LUX ME Daphnila Bay Dassia in Corfu. “My most memorable meal was in Tavernaki, the hotel’s delightful beachfront restaurant which plates up delicious traditional Greek food. There wasn’t a menu as such; instead, a huge selection of meze dishes are brought to your table to sample and paired with little shots of ouzo and crisp white wine. We tried new dishes we’d never have ordered ourselves. It was such a memorable evening.”
We also feature a collection of charming hotels in Spain where you can dine at fantastic restaurants with amazing menus. Personal Travel Expert Gemma Wilson shares a memory from her trip to Mallorca. “We stayed at La Residencia, a Belmond Hotel, a luxurious oasis nestled in the Tramuntana Mountains. One afternoon we signed up for the ‘Donkey Trail’ hike. We walked through picturesque olive groves to find a dining table set high in the hills adorned with an extravagant Spanish picnic consisting of old meats, cheese, salad, bread and olive oil (made by the hotel using their own olives) and plenty of red wine.”