The Best Hostel Food Around the World

Tapas at the Oasis Granada Hostel

Tapas at the Oasis Granada Hostel – Lisbon, Portugal

Our friends at The Daily Meal love to keep us informed on the best of the best when it comes to food around the world. This time, they’ve done a great 20 best hostels around the world for food (since we know hostels can get a bad rap, and most of the time, that reputation isn’t unfounded). If a hostel serves any food at all, the best most backpackers can expect to find is some cheap white bread and bad coffee. For many travelers, this lack of decent food is hardly a point of contention. After all, eating pricey gourmet meals often isn’t an option for those traveling on a budget, and as long as the hostel is well located, safe, and free of bedbug sightings, what more could a backpacker ask for? A lot more, apparently, according to recent research.

Plus Berlin

Plus Berlin All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

A hostel meal will likely never reach the ranks of Michelin-starred dining or compare to the breakfast buffet at the St. Regis. However, some establishments are offering culinary delights such as barbecue, ceviche, poutine, and a burger that even the locals clamor over, and these are just a sampling of some of the excellent dishes found in hostel dining rooms around the world.  

Ceviche at La Hamaca Hostel - San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Ceviche at La Hamaca Hostel – San Pedro Sula, Honduras

For a minimal fee, guests at PLUS Berlin Hostel can enjoy an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and dinner in the hostel restaurant.  The restaurant’s manager, Diego, is Italian and takes pride in the quality of the food. Options range from pizza and pasta dishes to German specialties. The hostel’s well-stocked bar also serves cocktails to get you ready for a night exploring the neighborhood’s nightclubs.

The Green Tortoise

The Green Tortoise – San Francisco, CA

So what makes a hostel’s food stand above the fray? “Food is part of the cultural experience you get when you visit a foreign country,” explains Andres Poveda Solano, co-owner of Hostel Pangea in Costa Rica, while Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco provides hearty and healthy free breakfast every day of organic oatmeal and fresh fruit, and free dinner three times per week including dishes like pasta primavera and Thai curry.

The Menaggio Youth Hostel's Cooking Classes - Lake Como, Italy

The Menaggio Youth Hostel’s Cooking Classes – Lake Como, Italy

Good food at a hostel enhances the backpacker’s experience. One of the charms of staying in a hostel is the opportunity it offers to meet people from all over the world, and for these hostels, the dining room is one place where the magic happens. Whether you’re enjoying a hearty breakfast on a terrace overlooking the scenic French countryside or participating in a free tour with fellow travelers of a Spanish city’s tapas bars, the food at these top 20 hostels will create memories you won’t quickly forget.

The 20 Best Hotels Around the World For Food

What hostels have you stayed in that had great food?

By Michelle Kiefer

Springtime in Napa

Meadowood Napa Valley

Meadowood Napa Valley

Spring and Summer in the Napa Valley:  the air is fresh and fragrant with blooming wildflowers, vineyards are awash with green buds signaling another growing season, and afternoons are filled with bright abundant sunshine. We can’t wait to hit up our favorite part of California in the coming weeks! From hikes and golf clinics to a new bar at The Restaurant at Meadowood, this season’s happenings are a refreshing spring awakening. 

See

  • The Napa Valley Collects exhibition will showcase work from the region’s private art collectors at The Napa Valley Museum now through the end of May. The exhibition includes significant works sourced from throughout the Napa Valley, many never shown in public including pieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso. 
Golf Digest's Napa Valley Golf School

Golf Digest’s Napa Valley Golf School

Sweat

  • The Land Trust of Napa County offers hikes each weekend now through June. Ranging from low impact observation hikes to more strenuous hikes like Maggies Peak, which offers 360 valley views at the summit. Hikes are complimentary and are based upon availability.
  • The Chardonnay Golf Club has partnered with the Meritage Resort and Spa to offer Golf Digest’s Napa Valley Golf School. The one- or three-day intensive lessons are with a Golf Digest-certified instructor and are available starting at $1,499 per person.

Savor

  • The Restaurant at Meadowood’s new lounge and bar now offers a three-course menu for $90 per person, and “snacks from Chef Christopher Kostow”, a light tasting menu for $20 per person.
Delectable Dining at the Meadowood

Delectable Dining at the Meadowood

Sing (along)

  • The inaugural BottleRock Napa Valley music festival was May 8th-16th and featured over 60 artists and bands, including The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, and Zac Brown Band. Over a dozen comedians, including Jim Gaffigan, Demetri Martin, Wyatt Cenak, and Kristen Schaal will provide laughs in between musical sets. Day passes started at $139, multi-day passes at $329. Make a note to put this on your calendar next year.
A room at the Harvest Inn

A room at the Harvest Inn

Stay

  • Embark on a hot air balloon ride with Harvest Inn’s “Up, Up & Away” package.
  • Channel the inner artist at The Meritage Resort and Spa with the “Art of Relaxation” package, which includes an easel, paint, and brushes.  
  • Unwind at the Villagio Inn and Spa with the “Arts in April” package with a VIP Wine Tasting at V Wine Cellar, spa treatments, and a Champagne sabering session.                                                           

For more information about travel to the Napa Valley, including special offers and a full calendar of spring and early summer season events, visit www.visitnapavalley.com

The Morgans Hotel Group Breathes New Life into Their Digital Presence

Best Hotel Websites

Not unlike other major players in the digital hopsitality game like SLS South Beach’s new App or Conrad Hotels’ Conrad Concierge, now the Morgans Hotel Group, perhaps the first ‘Chic King’ in the hotel industry’s boutique sector with properties like the Delano (South Beach, Marrakech), Mondrian (LA, South Beach, NYC), Hudson (NYC), and Sanderson (London) to name just a few, has tapped New York-based digital agency, Firstborn, to partner on digital programming across its hotel properties, in addition to the development and re-launch of its global website. Firstborn will focus on creating mobile and web-based content geared toward enhancing the guest experience and promoting the brand’s boutique culture.  They’ll also be working to develop exclusive on-property technologies that will deliver a more personalized stay.  I’ll be curious to see what that entails, but I certainly have some ideas, if you need me, guys.  

Firstborn

Since mobile is clearly the new social for consumers, Kim Walker, Creative Director and Senior Vice President of Brand and Marketing at Morgans Hotel Group, said their goal to create “an enhanced presence that will provide better service, anticipate guest needs, and engage guests during every step of their stay.”  The real point here is that, when a guest chooses to stay at a Morgans Hotel Group property, they’re not just getting a place to sleep, they’re choosing to experience a unique culture.  This is a common trend in the hotel game and one that will only continue to become more competitive and innovative as hotels battle for the heads and beds. Earlier this year, Morgans Hotel Group also attempted to bring life and style back to the lifestyle game by introducing Back of House, a culturally rich blog that features curated content in the world of design, art, fashion, music, food and nightlife.  Through an extensive list of tastemakers, artists, and celebrities, Back of House wants to provide the kind of fresh, relevant material that makes guests feel on the cutting-edge of what’s current in the always-shifting cultural scene. Reminds me a bit of the 2010 launch of the LVMH blog, Nowness.com, which, after three years, appears to attract (according to Quantcast.com), approximately 184K UMVS (unique monthly views). Given the difficulty in growing a brand website or blog as a destination without daily content updates, a brilliant SEO strategy, and advertising support, it will be interesting to see how their content strategy develops and what they’ve set as KPIs to measure success.  That said, the brand is always one to watch with their tapped in style.

www.morganshotelgroup.com

Hot Spring & Summer Shades

While Cinco de Mayo (sadly) falls on a Sunday this year, we thought we’d share some hot specs so that at least we could look incredibly chic at each fiesta we plan to attend. Whether barhopping with our besties, doing the samba with our significant other, or hosting happy hour at our place, see the shades below from SOLSTICE Sunglasses which, we think, offer some of the sexiest and sleekest styles to complement every festivity (plus, these beauties from brands like Kate SpadeGucci, and Carrera will mask your Monday hangover after you finish celebrating one of the booziest holidays of the year). Drink responsibly!

Canta y No LLores

Three shots in and feeling brave? These transparent specs from Kate Spade and Carrera shield you from embarrassment after you join the in-house mariachi band to belt Cielito Lindo to your heart’s content.

sunglasses

Amor Prohibido

No need to learn a new language – these shades do all the talking for you.  Whether you’re enjoying outdoor tableside sangria with a cutie from the bar or dancing through the day and night, these bold and vibrant styles from Carrera add spice to your dating life.

Kate Spade sunglasses

¡Ay Caramba!

The perfect party host knows how to accessorize with these festive frames from Kate Spade.  Hang up the piñata in an outfit that coordinates with the surrounding red, white and green décor.

Herrera sunglasses

Como La Flor

Floral patterns are inspired by decorative folklorico designs. Embrace tradition with these styles from Kate Spade and Dior that accentuate your Bohemian side and are perfect through the summer!

Dior sunglasses

Beauty Along the Bosphorus

 

Four Seasons Spa & Hammam Bosphorus

Four Seasons Spa & Hammam Bosphorus

Most spa treatments speak to four of the senses, from sight and smell to sound and touch, but when you really think about it, there hasn’t been one blissfully perfect experience that engages all five — until now.

People have always flocked to the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus for its traditional Turkish hammam treatment, a bathing ritual that activates blood circulation, detoxifies the body and — bonus! — improves the look of your skin. But the decadent new Epicurean Hammam will give you a taste of Istanbul in more ways than one.
Part way through your 25-minute hammam treatment in the hot marble sauna, you’ll be served an olive oil ice cream popsicle to keep you feeling cool and hydrated — just before receiving a luxurious 15-minute foam massage with natural olive oil soap. Next, you’ll be drenched head to toe in a special creamy mixture of strained yogurt and rose water. As the healing yogurt absorbs into your skin, making it look firmer and brighter, a scalp massage will send you even deeper into relaxation.
And at the end of your sensory journey, you’ll rest with a refreshing yogurt with honey to leave just the right taste in your mouth — and ensure you’re feeling good and looking great, inside and out.

So check out Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus  to stimulate your five senses with the exclusive Epicurean Hammam treatment.  Oh, and did we also mention that spa goers voted the Four Seasons Spa & Hammam as their favorite spa in Turkey for three consecutive years in the SpaFinder Wellness Reader’s Choice Awards?

Pair that with your popsicle!

A Hot New Hotel App on the Miami Scene

hotel app

I’ve been writing about travel for the last ten years and one thing I’m newly excited about are all of the great travel apps and tech features hitting the hospitality scene.

From the ex-Googler’s who brought us Triposo to HotelTonight for last minute hotel deals and Tripomatic, Tripl, and Trippy, there’s no shortage of apps for all your traveling needs.

Now, hotels are jumping into the game with lifestyle apps for guests who want a bit more of an immersive tech-inspired guest experience (that’d be me, y’all). With SLS Hotel South Beach’s new lifestyle app, guests and fans of the property are served up dynamic online content including drink recipes, urgent champagne delivery, customized itineraries, and hotel concierge access. Developed by leading hospitality software platform Runtriz, the app is downloadable for free on iPhones, Androids, and also runs on all SLS Hotel South Beach in-room iPads.

Here are just a few of the sexy features of the SLS Hotel South Beach app:

Shake a Drink – Tap the “Shake a Drink” button to stir up a killer cocktail in the comfort of your Philippe Starck-designed room, or view specialty cocktails made by the hotel’s on-site mixologists at Katsuya, Hyde Beach and The Bazaar by José Andrés. Guests can raid the mini bar and stir up their own cocktail from the comfort of their room.

Bring Me Bubbles – Guests can rush order Champagne, ranging from a $50 Avinyo Cava to a $148 Lanson Ivory Label Demi-Sec Champagne, to be delivered to their rooms in less than 20 minutes (because sometimes bubbles is a real emergency).

Hotel Concierge – In-room iPads deliver unique hotel services to guests with a touch, including dinner reservations at The Bazaar and Katsuya, in-room dining and on-demand services. Guests can take advantage of the expert concierge team, who have created “Perfect Day in South Beach” sample itineraries from Lenny Kravitz and more. Concierge services through in-room iPads (also projected on TV flat screens) also provide detailed information on local Miami attractions, South Beach weather, as well as print traveler’s boarding passes.

My personal favorite?

It’s a toss up between Bring Me Bubbles and Shake a Drink, of course, because who doesn’t want a little bubbly or cocktail recipe delivered at the push of a button when on vacation? Kickstarting good times by encouraging guests to interact with SLS’ award-winning mixology program is clearly the way to anyone’s heart.

Wild Ponies, A Michelin-Starred Chef, and Berlin, Baby!

Das Stue's Interior

Das Stue’s Indoor Swimming Pool

Nothing surprises me anymore… until I hear about a hotel in Berlin where it’s not unusual to see ostriches, gazelles, and wild ponies from your hotel room.

Yes, the view from Das Stue offers just that. As you can see from the photos, this is no budget house ‘o beds. You’re looking at a 5-star design savvy property with free WiFi (Thank you, Hospitality Gods!), a solarium, sauna, spa, and, that right there, is an indoor swimming pool. While Axthelm Architekten revitalized the historic building (once home to the Danish Embassy), the interior design and artistic direction of the public spaces were realized by Patricia Urquiola, the acclaimed Spanish architect and designer famous for her sleek comfortable design. Based on Urquiola’s concept, LVG Arquitectura S.L.P. designed the hotel’s 80 rooms and suites.

Chef Paco Perez

Chef Paco Perez

Located next to Berlin’s Kurfurstendamm shopping street, you’re also about a mile or two from Zoologischer Garten Train and Subway Station, The Kulturforum Culture Centre (home to the Berlin Philarharmonic and Neue Nationalgalerie Museum), and the Berlin Central Train Station can be reached from the hotel in a 10-minute drive.

With all the usual luxe amenities befitting a sexy Design Hotel, you have iPod/iPhone docking stations, satellite TV, and bathrooms with rain showers. Some rooms also have a balcony or terrace…  and did we mention the hotel’s Michelin-starred Catalan chef’s “5-cinco by Paco Perez” restaurant? Creations include the likes of Morel Mushrooms à la Crème with Foie-Ice Powder, where the bold musky taste of morels are paired with chilled powdered fois gras. Yes, this is real life (it just feels like fantasy).

Here's to sleek modern design...

Here’s to sleek modern design…

Located in the peaceful neighborhood of Tiergarten Park, Das Stue’s rooms and suites offer undisturbed views of Europe’s most visited zoo (where those little animals can be seen doing a variety of fun animal things), along with the tree-lined park and Berlin’s western skyline. This vista, seen from the hotel’s balconies and terraces represents the true Berlin – a coming together of old and new, of modern architecture with timeless monuments such as the golden victory column which shimmers as a beacon in the distance.

The lobby fit for a King

The lobby fit for a King

Prices range from around $280 – $500/night, but for a view of wild animals and lapping it up in such award-winning style, we think it’s well worth it.

http://www.das-stue.com/en/