These incredible dining experiences will delight your senses and test your culinary prowess.
Know your amuse-bouche from your petit fours? More time at home has brought out the inner-gourmand in many of us, and this new wave of foodies are increasingly seeking experiences that not only please the palate but also give them a true taste of a region – literally. Here, we’ve found some of the best dining experiences culinary connoisseurs can have around the globe.
1. There’s nothing like Noma
You’ll need a good dose of patience if you’re planning to book a table at Noma. Listed as one of the hardest restaurants to get into in the world, it’s not without reason. The Copenhagen dining room has three Michelin stars and has topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list five times. Expect dishes like stuffed zucchini with bee larvae; blossoms with lobster; and six layers of raspberry, rhubarb, and cream tarts topped with summer raspberries.
2. Picnic like royalty
Visited by some of the world’s most famous people (think Princess Diana), Lech is a refined ski resort in Austria’s westernmost state, Vorarlberg. At the Kristiania Lech Hotel, you can enjoy any number of curated dining experiences. Our pick is the romantic picnic in the snow arranged by a ski valet where an Arabian-style rug is adorned with soft colourful pillows, candles and warm fur blankets. Snack on Austrian delicacies and sip champagne while you take in that spectacular scenery. We dare you not to imagine you’re royalty.
3. Sequoia lodge dining experience
Take an epicurean journey through the Adelaide Hills at three-hatted Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant, celebrating South Australia’s finest produce.
The culinary star at boutique Mount Lofty House has a new menu featuring seasonal plates like Hahndorf venison with caramelised Jerusalem artichoke, pickle, black garlic and cabbage jus – served under a cloud of wood-fired smoke in a glass cloche.
The 170-year-old wine cellar has also been quietly aging duck, served with rich blackberry sauce, witlof salad, parsnip puree and swede pickle. Finish with crème brulee, inspired by winter citrus fruits and served with native lime and salted coconut sorbet.
Choose the Estate’s exclusive adults-only Sequoia lodge. After you dine at Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant, return to your suite for wine beside the fireplace.
4. Deep dive dining experiences
In Lindesnes, in the southernmost district in Norway, you can plunge five metres below the surface of the ocean and dine on an 18-course menu. Under is an exclusive restaurant partly submerged in the North Atlantic Ocean with massive acrylic windows offering a rare chance to view the marine ecosystem in this remote corner of the world. Designed to be an artificial reef, the structure welcomes limpets and kelp to inhabit it.
5. Lunch with Laura
On the sleepy Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, meet Laura, a two-hat fine-dining restaurant where nothing is hurried. One of only a handful of Australian members to join the Relais & Châteaux fold, Laura at Pt. Leo Estate seats just 40. Named after a seven-metre-tall, cast-iron sculpture that overlooks the dining space, the eatery’s artistic theme is translated on the plate. You can also select from 750 wines from around the globe. After all, it’s all about slow dining experiences here.
6. Wild dining at Jamala
Australian Capital Territory
In Australia’s capital, you can dine underground while wildlife roam just metres away. Jamala Wildlife Lodge is a safari-style, five-star hotel within the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra. Savour a four-course African-themed meal in a stone wall cave adjacent to the dens of white lions and hyenas. While animal sightings aren’t guaranteed, you’ll know when one of these graceful creatures appears from the gasps in the room. Afterwards, relax in one of 18 African-themed rooms where you can sip on a glass of shiraz while feeding a giraffe from the balcony, or soak in a deep tub while bears laze behind thick glass windows.
7. Chauffeurs and Champagne houses
Sit back in style while you’re chauffeured to some of France’s best Champagne houses. Expect personal engagements with winemakers and festive tastings with passionate artisans – all reserved exclusively for those staying at Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa.
If you want to get your heart racing, the hotel can also arrange to fly you over the Champagne vineyards at 700 kilometres an hour in a fighter jet, piloted by former military personnel. When your feet are back on terra firma, wind down with dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Royal.
8. Alpine dining experience at The Rees
Take in some of New Zealand’s most picturesque sights on this heli-dining experience exclusive to guests of the multi-award-winning The Rees Hotel in Queenstown. Soar over the Southern Alps to a remote West Coast beach where a diver will jump in the water and collect a live crayfish. You’ll then fly over a glacier before heading back to your hotel where your freshly caught crayfish is waiting for you as part of a three-course meal, with champagne of course.
9. Cuisine de caviar
In the picturesque Dordogne region, take a private tour to a sturgeon farm and see the prized ‘black gold’ caviar. Luxury French travel company Exclusive France Tours tailor-makes tours to Caviar de Neuvic and Perle Noire, where you can learn how the delicate eggs are harvested. End with a culinary workshop and tastings, including one of the world’s most expensive and sought-after delicacies – caviar, but of course.
10. Dine at the chef’s table
Most foodies have heard of Heston Blumenthal – the multi-award-winning British chef and owner of The Fat Duck. Now, you can have a behind-the-scenes dining experience at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. While you’re seated at a six-seater chef’s table, the kitchen team will work around you with open rotisseries inches away. The six-course menu has a medieval take: think tipsy cake (c.1810) or hay-smoked trout (c.1730). Don’t miss the meat fruit, a chicken-liver parfait cunningly disguised as a mandarin.
11. Experience Canada’s coolest cuisine
There are few dining experiences quite as cool as the Shangri-La Vancouver’s exclusive new ‘Ice Caves Heli Adventure’. Jump in your private helicopter for a sky-high transfer to the Head-line Mountain Holidays base camp on an ice cap. If that doesn’t take your breath away, then the zippy snowmobile tour to the Whistler Ice Caves surely will.
Explore a labyrinth of azure underground chambers before sitting down to a chef-prepared five-course meal in a cathedral of blue, with each mouthful crafted to highlight British Columbia’s most remarkable produce. Cocktails are also served, using ice collected from the day’s journey. Before departing this postcard-perfect pocket of Canada in your chopper, practice your golf swing in the snow using biodegradable golf balls.
12. Treetop dining at Soneva Kiri
A stay at Soneva Kiri includes the chance to dine in a bamboo pod in a tropical Thai rainforest. You’ll be gently hoisted high up into the foliage of Koh Kood’s ancient rainforest, where you can gaze across the ocean as you dine on dishes delivered via your personal zip-lining waiter. Soneva pioneered this incredible dining concept. Bring your camera – this is one of the most scenic dining experiences in Thailand.
13. Aman’s sailing and dining experience
Hop aboard Aman Venice’s historic sailing boat Edipo Re for four courses inspired by Michelin-starred chef Norbert Niederkofler, while you float along the Venetian Lagoon. The carefully crafted menu incorporates spices and seasonings from the Far East and uses seasonal produce available at the market on the day – from fresh fish from the lagoon to vegetables from the surrounding islands. Sleep in spacious suites at the hotel, housed in Palazzo Papadopoli, one of the city’s eight monumental palazzos on the Grand Canal.
14. Wade to a working oyster farm
Shuck and slurp oysters straight from the pristine waters of Coffin Bay in South Australia. In Oyster Farm Tours’ private, personalised experience, you will wade out to a semi-submerged dining deck in the middle of a commercial oyster farm. Farmer Ben will explain how oysters grow, and learn the history of the region before a hands-on shucking lesson. Add in a bottle of sparkling wine and a platter of fresh seafood – kingfish sashimi, bluefin tuna, scallops and Spencer Gulf king prawns.
15. Feast in Antarctica
Prefer your drinks on ice – literally? We’ve found the best place to do it. Antarctica’s White Desert eco-camp has six heated, polar pods with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the dramatic landscape. Dine on a five-course sensory ‘South Pole’ tasting menu and, if you choose, have a picnic at the base of a nunatak with champagne chilled in 10,000-year-old glacial ice. The experience is for a minimum of three-nights from December and then the camp will be dismantled without a trace.
16. Over The Top’s heli-dining experiences
Any meal prepared by leading helicopter company Over the Top’s chefs is a delight. But the food tastes even better when it’s enjoyed in an exclusive location that can only be reached by helicopter.
Over The Top’s private high-country station sits pretty in New Zealand’s Southern Alps outside Queenstown. You’ll enjoy a bird’s-eye view of this jaw-dropping pocket of the South Island before your chopper lands beside an 1865 former gold miner’s cottage, remarkably well preserved and fitted with historic artefacts.
This is the site of Over The Top’s Alpine Kitchen and Dirty Nugget Saloon, the former a space where your chef will create culinary magic, and the latter an atmospheric bar where you can sip whisky while listening to pianola tunes.
Enjoy canapés amid the estate’s golden tussocks while your chef prepares your gourmet barbecue feast of South Island produce. The chefs forage for most of the ingredients in the meadows and valleys that surround.
Then revel in the mountain scenery, perhaps capturing your outlook on canvas with an easel and a brush, listening to stories about the colourful characters that once called this part of the world home, soaking in a hot tub, indulging in an alfresco massage.
Or simply relaxing beside a stream – because being amid nature makes you feel good and your spirit soar. If you prefer your activities with a side of adrenaline, load up and take aim in the clay shooting traps, or try your hand at archery and knife throwing.
Make no mistake – this is one exhilarating day out that you will savour long after your Over The Top Helicopter lands back in Queenstown.
17. Dinner in the sky
Belgium-born concept, Dinner in the sky sees guests dine on a platform dangling from a crane in the sky. Now available across 60 countries, you can take it to the next level with the 2.0 experience where you can sip whisky while enjoying opera, or play a round of baccarat while being entertained by French can-can dancers – all at 50 metres above the ground. Belgium’s capital of Brussels has a two-week event in June 2023. But with only eight sittings you’ll need to get in quick – this unique dining event is a sell-out.
18. Tasmanian dining experiences by private jet
Board a private chartered jet with Captain’s Choice to visit artisan food and wine producers in Australia’s remote southern islands. A business-class tour for a maximum of 35, you’ll jet off from Sydney and head to Tasmania’s tiny isles of King and Bruny Island, before calling in at Kangaroo Island. This exclusive tour departs in October and includes a stop in Mildura, where you’ll board a private vintage paddle steamer to reach Trentham Estate winery.
19. Join the exclusive Core Club
The exclusivity of the Core Club begins as soon as you enter – that’s if you can find it. Entry to the Manhattan club is via a secret entrance tucked in the side of a building. Once inside, expect carefully curated cultural experiences ranging from private concerts to conversations with global leaders. Joining requires a recommendation by a current member, a US$50,000 joining fee and a US$15,000 annual fee thereafter. But you never know who you might run into – word has it billionaire fashion entrepreneur J. Christopher Burch and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci are members.
20. A real life fairy tale at Glenapp Castle
Sweep up a long tree-clad drive through a manicured private estate to the grand, 19th- century five-star Glenapp Castle – a 17-suite Relais & Châteaux hotel in Scotland’s historic county of Ayrshire. Here, you’ll find all the romance you’d expect in a Scottish Baronial style-castle – magical towers, turrets and crenellations. Dine in The Azalea, a glasshouse set among walled gardens with grapevines and peach and fig trees. Sound like a fairy tale? It may as well be.
21. Dine in the world’s oldest restaurant
Pull up a seat and dine in the world’s oldest restaurant, listed in the Guinness World Records. Spanish restaurant Botín, in central Madrid, was founded in 1725. This institution of a restaurant has been referenced by novelists and journalists for centuries, including Ernest Hemingway. Run by the local González family since the 20th century, it is frequently listed as one of the world’s top restaurants. Don’t miss the specialty: roast suckling pig.
22. Afternoon tea at The Ritz
For a taste of Britain, it doesn’t get glitzier than afternoon tea at The Ritz London. The institution opened its doors in 1906, and is the only hotel in the United Kingdom to have a certified Tea Master. Alongside 18 different types of loose-leaf tea, you can also sip champagne while you savour finely cut sandwiches. Enjoy freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and exquisitely presented pastries and teacakes made by the talented in-house chefs. Not to be missed, this truly is one of the most opulent British dining experiences.
23. The gourmet express
Embrace slow travel aboard an elegant vintage train through California’s famed Napa Valley. Savour gourmet meals crafted by a culinary team in one of the three onboard kitchens from your refurbished antique rail car, with windows offering uninterrupted views of the surrounding vines. Stay on track by packaging it up with a stay at a luxury suite at River Terrace Inn, where you can sit at the bar and sip more of those world-class wines. Afterwards, retire to your room with its hot tub, fireplace and private balcony with Napa River views.
24. Levantine Hill Estate indulgence
Helicopter over the verdant hills of Victoria’s oldest wine region, the Yarra Valley, to Levantine Hill Estate. Here, you’ll spend the day being wined and dined, before returning to Melbourne. Priced at $25,000 for six people, the ‘Chairman’s Ultimate Package’ includes vintage sparkling on arrival and a Mediterranean-inspired lunch menu at the Chairman’s Table, normally exclusively reserved for the owner. You’ll also receive beluga caviar and four glasses of Levantine Hill wine. Once you return home from your exclusive experience, a curated cellar pack of 12 premium award-winning Levantine wines valued at $17,500 will be delivered to you, anywhere in Australia. So you can open a bottle in the privacy of your own home and relive the memories of your once-in- a-lifetime experience.
25. Dining in the dark
A short distance from Paris’ Louvre Museum, a dining experience with a difference awaits. Dans Le Noir? (French for ‘in the dark’) is a unique, sensory experience where you dine in complete darkness. Lead by guides, you’ll be treated to a surprise organic menu using seasonal ingredients, matched with wine or champagne. Carefully created to heighten your sense of taste, this unique meal sees the restaurant regularly ranked among the 10 most original eateries in the world.