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

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Lake Como’s Grand Hotel Tremezzo

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo - Lake Como

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo – Lake Como

Located on the shores of the famous Lake Como, lies a gem of a property we’re looking to stay.  With 88 molto elegant rooms and 10 exclusive suites, we’re talking about the Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

Why are we recently obsessed, you ask?

Well, it’s unique lakeside positioning offers unparalleled views of Bellagio, the Riviera delle Azalee and the stunning Grigne mountains.

The View of Lake Como from the Hotel Grand Tremezzo

The View of Lago di Como (Lake Como) from the Hotel Grand Tremezzo

The hotel’s true Art Nouveau style and décor also hosts five upscale dining venues by renowned chef Maestro Gualtiero Marchesi. What a great name, eh? And now, the historic Grand Hotel Tremezzo celebrates the grand opening of their newly renovated ultra luxe Rooftop Floor, comprised of eight lavishly-appointed suites.  A mix between contemporary and old-world charm, these are just a few latest additions to this swanky centenary palace. The iconic hotel dates back to 1910 and also showcases a rejuvenating spa, flower gardens, and an age-old park. Glitteratti and guests flock to the hotel’s upscale restaurants and wine bars for culinary guest master-chef Gualtiero Marchesi’s authentic Italian fare.

Allooorrrraaaa... Now That's a Room with a View

Allooorrrraaaa… Now That’s a Room with a View

Spearheaded by Italian designer Venelli Kramer in collaboration with the De Santis family, who manage the hotel today, the delicate renovation of the Rooftop Floor is evocative of the picturesque lakeside estate. Taking inspiration from Italian classics and Lake Como itself, did we mention that each of the suites also comes with their own private terrace, outdoor heated Jacuzzi, butler, and panoramic views of the lake? Luxury bathrooms throughout also include Cedarstone and Imperial marble with double basins, bathtubs overlooking the room’s views, and a separate shower.

George Clooney, who?

Suite rates start @480 EUR (approximately USD $627*)/night

www.grandhoteltremezzo.com

Melanie Brandman is… The Travel Curator

She’s something of a 007 in heels… ready to hit the tarmac. She possesses that rare blend of friendly, fierce, and intelligent. And, of course, if she’s going to advise luxury hoteliers, she must also be lethally… stylish. She is… The Most Interesting Travel Curator in the World. She is… Melanie Brandman. Yes, anyone who’s anyone in the luxe travel world knows this stunning powerhouse and she’s always fascinated us for a variety of reasons. Namely, we admire women-on-top who carry-on a smile with business savvy to boot.
An eighth-generation Australian, Brandman spent her childhood in Melbourne and Sydney and, although she’s been calling NYC home for a number of years, she began her 20+ years of public relations experience with positions at Vogue Australia, and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts,  Sydney and London. Eventually, she settled in New York City where, in 2001, she established The Brandman Agency. Today, her agency counts itself as one of the major competitors in the global luxury travel market.

La Mamounia - Marrakech

Now, Brandman brings passion to her latest project and one that gets our attention… a travel website called The Travel Curator, for the traveler who craves exciting, unique experiences. The site – Melanie’s virtual diary of sorts – is designed to cut through all of the clutter of your average travel website; instead, giving people who love travel all of her tried and tested favorites, as well as word-of-mouth travel tips and favorite must-do’s. She’s all about what’s new and what’s now, places to go, and where to go once you’re there. This upcoming month The Travel Curator will feature London and each month in the Salon Section, a celebrity or influencer will be interviewed.

Melanie Brandman - The Travel Curator

So we asked Melanie: Out of your impressive client roster, what are some of  your favorites?

La Mamounia in Marrakech — Perhaps the most iconic hotel in Morocco, La Mamounia re-opened in late 2009 after a magnificent 3-year makeover, under the direction of star designer Jacques Garcia. There are two things that I love most about this hotel:

1) It’s historical significance. Since its original debut in 1923, La Mamounia has hosted the “who’s who” of international royalty, politicians, celebrities and the jet set

2) The design. The hotel fits perfectly into it’s surroundings, thanks to its contemporary Moroccan design. The breathtaking mosaics and moldings make you feel like you are in the city center (yet surrounded by peace and privacy).  The hotel has expanded with 136 guest rooms, 71 Suites, and three incredible Riads. Their spa is something like 27,000 sq feet, every inch of it divine, as is their iconic pool, which I love for people watching. I would, and often do, recommend this hotel to anyone in search of the very best.  www.mamounia.com

Villa San Michele - Florence, Italy

Villa San Michele in Fiesole, Italy — Once a Franciscan monastery, this flagship Orient-Express hotel is located on an ancient hilltop and features facades done by Michelangelo himself. It has perhaps one of the most epic views of any hotel I have ever stayed, a rare bird’s-eye view of Florence (one of my all-time favorite cities). It’s tranquil, it’s sophisticated… the service, the gardens, and white-glove room-service (especially for breakfast) are impeccable. www.villasanmichele.com

InterContinental Hong Kong's Superb Rooftop

InterContinental Hong Kong – Everything about this hotel is dramatic, in all the right ways. When I stay at this hotel, I feel as though I am right on top of the water, like being on a yacht in the middle of one of the world’s buzziest cities. The Presidential Suites, if you can sneak a peak, are not to be missed. The service and the butlers and the staff in general are beyond accommodating. And you don’t even need to leave the hotel to eat or drink, if you so choose — Nobu and Alain Ducasse’s Spoon are two of many superb dining options on property. http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/hongkong

So there you have it, straight from the 007 of bespoke travel. For more of Melanie’s insider travel picks and monthly interviews with top designers and celebs, check out her website, The Travel Curator, it’s one to watch.

www.thetravelcurator.com

Girls Getaways to Italy’s Amalfi Coast!

Positano

Girls Getaways… get on it!

ItalyVacations.com has just created a dream trip for single ladies looking for an exclusive week long “Girls Getaway” combining great food, wine and scenery with lots of free time to shop, dine and explore two beautiful locations in Italy, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast.

The journey will commence with a three night stay at one of the oldest hotels in Italy, NH Porta Rossa, a four-star hotel located in the historical center of Florence. The first full day will be spent visiting three characteristic villages of the Cinque Terre, a unique area suspended on steep cliffs overlooking the sea and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The next day guests will embark on a full day tour of Chianti, an area known to have one of the best wines in the world and indulge in a fabulous wine tasting at a local farmhouse, followed by a traditional Tuscan lunch.

NH Porta Rossa

En route to Sorrento, guests will visit the city center of Naples to taste the original Pizza Margherita and enjoy a short stop in the picturesque town of Positano. In the evening, guests will arrive at Grand Hotel La Favorita, a four-star hotel situated on the corner of Sorrento’ s most famous alley ways where guests will embrace spectacular views of the gulf of Naples and the grand volcano Vesuvius. The next two days, guests can look forward to sublime shopping opportunities on full day excursions to the island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast. The last night in Sorrento guests will learn how to prepare a typical Italian Mediterranean dinner from a great local chef at Esperidi.

The view from Sorrento's Grand Hotel La Favorita

This hosted trip is $3,499 per person, double and is scheduled to depart the U.S. on Thursday, April 19, 2012 and return on Friday, April 27, 2012. The prices include all costs aside from gratuity for the guides: Round-trip airfare from New York (JFK) to Florence – return from Naples to New York on group flights; fuel surcharges and air taxes; arrival and departure airport transfers; three nights in a four-star hotel in Florence; four nights in a four-star hotel in Sorrento; seven breakfasts; first class train tickets from Florence to Naples; pizza lunch in Naples; cooking class with dinner in Sorrento; full day visit of Cinque Terre; full day visit of Chianti and vineyards; one day visit of the Amalfi Coast cities, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello; visit to Capri, with jetfoil to/from Sorrento; all hotel VAT taxes.

And let me just say… I did a very similar girls getaway to Italy when I was in my 20s and it was as amazing as I thought it would be!

Tuscany on a Budget

Tuscany in the Spring

There’s no better time to visit Tuscany than springtime.  But then again… there’s no bad time to visit Tuscany. After all, it is Tuscany. That said, Springtime is when the days turn sunny, vineyards sprout their first green, markets display their gorgeous produce and sidewalk cafés and restaurants come to life.

And—difficult as it is to believe—spring is coming. TourCrafters, a tour company specializing in affordable European vacations, has made a spring trip even more appealing with their one-week Florence and Tuscany Countryside package, which starts at $739 from New York and includes round-trip air from New York, three nights at the 4-star Hotel Roma in Florence, three nights at the 4-star Villa Aurea in Cortona, daily buffet breakfast, three days’ car rental, a free spa course (with sauna, Turkish bath and tea) at the Villa Aurea, a free gelato at Florence’s famous Vivoli, service charges and taxes.

Florence, as everyone knows, is the world’s greatest repository of Renaissance art, but it also boasts great restaurants and fabulous shopping (everything from designer shops on via Tornabuoni to the San Lorenzo Market).  Cortona, a hilltop town of steep, narrow streets and the setting for the popular memoir, Under the Tuscan Sun, also has its art and architecture.  Between the two lies the Chianti region with its hillside vineyards, olive groves, medieval towns and picturesque castles—easy enough to explore with a three-day car rental.

All prices are per person, double occupancy, are subject to availability and do not include airport taxes of approximately $115 and a fuel surcharge of approximately $360.  Reservations must be paid for within 72 hours of booking. Add-on air fares are $40 from Boston and Washington, D.C., $135 from Miami and Chicago,  and $250 from Los Angeles.

For additional information about this and other Hot Deals of the Week, visit www.tourcrafters.it

 

Italy’s Latest Villa Escape

Villa Armena: Relais and Beauty Farm

In the 16th century the noble Malavolti family always strived for the perfection.  When it came to the creation of their luxurious country residence in the heart of Tuscany’s Crete Senesi, they turned to one of the best known architects of the Italian Renaissance, Baldassare Peruzzi, who eventually created the residence, Villa Armena.

Thanks to an extensive reconstruction, the villa and its gardens, located just outside of Buonconvento, have been fully restored to once again show-off the original features dating back to the 16th century. The restored villa has been transformed into an exclusive luxury boutique hotel and beauty farm, which has relied on the latest standards of luxury and indulgence to create a unique experience for all of the senses of true connoisseurs of all that is the best.

We love Villa Armena Relais & Beauty Farm for several reasons, but it’s the rooms that really impressed us. We’re talking historic Tuscan romance to a T.

Seamlessly intertwining 21st century comforts and the original elegance of renaissance Italy, the conserved 16th century original features of the villa blend into the paradise setting, while inside the amenities offered represent those available at the most luxurious of today’s hotels. Villa Armena’s traditionally Tuscan rooms and suites, with original features, contain an exquisite selection of art and antique furniture and all rooms enjoy fabulous views of the gardens and the Crete Senesi.

Another Villa Armena Suite

Guests of the renaissance residence – which is going to open in Spring 2011 – will experience the very best of Tuscany, by relaxing in the shade of the “Ancient Fruit Area,” soaking up the gentle Tuscan sun by the swimming pool, or strolling through the fragrant gardens brimming with roses, cypress, maritime pine and olive trees. Alternatively, you can while away the hours in Villa Armena’s beauty farm indulging in a superb range of ancient Roman and Mediterranean spa rituals or enjoying the indoor and outdoor pools. The ‘Sorbo Allegro’ restaurant, a leader in the trend for ‘zero mile cuisine’, also serves up scintillating Italian and regional dishes prepared exclusively with local seasonal products and accompanied by a thoroughly-researched selection of delicious wines, produced by small, independent Italian wineries whose passion for wine goes hand-in-hand with their love and respect of the region in which it is made.

The stunning Tuscan location, of course, make Villa Armena Relais & Beauty Farm the ideal setting for the luxurious wedding of your dreams. The Villa’s professional in-house wedding planner ensures that every aspect of the special day exceeds the bride and groom’s expectations in respect of all aspects of the day. On request, excursions in a hot air balloon or on horseback, regional wine tours, or guided tours can be organized for both the newlyweds and their wedding guests.

So what say you? Shall we go in the Spring or the Summer?

www.villaarmena.com

Prices: from 295€ to 850€/night with buffet breakfast and VAT included

Milan’s Finest Fashion Hotel

Milano is just one of those places where you really need to put on the dog, but come on now, it’s not like you’d expect to go there without having some of your hottest dresses and finest heels, right? Clarisimo. So, we here at Jaunt Magazine decided, what better way to travel in style than to stay in style?

Milan's Fashion Hotel: Maison Moschino

Allora… we’re talking about Maison Moschino. Developed from an 1840’s neoclassical railway station on Milan’s Viale Monte Grappa 12, the Maison Moschino is a small palace of a place where guests are invited to realise their dreams and entertain their fantasies. Yes, the newest concept hotel from the renowned Moschino creative team in collaboration with designer, Rossella Jardini, is a 4 floor building holding 63 rooms and 2 suites, each one unique (think candy light fixtures and ballgown headboards), as well as a bar, gourmet restaurant, spa and gym. We stayed at Maison Moschino and, when they say it “offers an alternative life, fabricated in a world of imagination and surrealism” we couldn’t agree more (right down to their heart shaped soaps and adorable little shampoos and conditioners). In the hotel’s entrance, you’ll be greeted by the image above – a lamp in the shape of one of Moschino’s famous lampshade dresses. As they say, “The common thread connecting the rooms is a fairy tale theme, because to sleep is perchance to dream, and dreams are fairy tales that we are allowed to experience first-hand, the fables of a fantasy world that we have created…”

Maison Moschino's Sweet Room

In one room, rose petals fall lightly from the ceiling down onto the chandelier and others cover the bed; in another, guests will feel as though they really are sleeping in the enormous ball gown that flowingly transitions from the bed board down; the theme is sewn into its scenic background in the forest room, echoing the enchanted forests of everybody’s dreams. Feel like a sweet tooth? Just rest your head on that tart right there. Yes, at some point in your life, you need to do something different and, if it’s not climbing Kilimanjaro, it best be throwing down those Euros for a few nights feeling like Alice in the Looking Glass. Just don’t forget your Gianmarco Lorenzi’s… stilettos look good in everyone’s dreams.

www.designhotels.com/maison_moschino

230-610 EUR/night