What makes a hotel dining experience next-level? I was curious what I’d find while researching this topic for this issue of FSR. While brainstorming, I was reminded of some favorite childhood stories of mine. In one, Eloise—a mischievous little girl—wreaks havoc in the hotel where she lives, on the “tippy top” floor. Similarly, in my absolute favorite Christmas movie of all time, Kevin McCallister turns the Plaza Hotel in New York into a veritable playground.

READ MORE: The 11 best hotel brands for restaurants.

But what I remember most from these stories, unsurprisingly, is the food. In the Eloise stories, the 6-year-old routinely calls room service for one roast-beef bone, one raisin, and seven spoons. That would be an odd order, even for a hotel kitchen. Meanwhile, Kevin does much more serious damage with bedside ice cream sundaes, and let’s not forget, “A large cheese pizza, just for me.” The child spends $967 in room service alone, much to his father’s surprise, and tips in sticks of gum.

Entertainment aside, hotel restaurateurs really do have to think about orders from hotel guests in the rooms above, as well as feeding the traditional diner downstairs in the dining room. For some the question was posed whether they could put their own spins on the traditional hotel Caesar and cheeseburger. But the ultimate question seems to be, are you up for the challenge? Hotel restaurant service extends beyond just the restaurant menu. The chefs we interviewed were and continue to be invigorated by this challenge. For them, it was what made the restaurant venture exciting, fresh, new, and fun.

But it’s not the job of chefs alone—the hotel plays a big part in the restaurant, too. It’s a partnership. In this issue, we’ve scoured for the best brands for restaurants to partner with. These brands are putting a real emphasis on the dining experiences in their hotels. Check it out and tell us what you’d think about working in a hotel environment. As always, we encourage you to share with us through feedback, letters, email, or a shout-out on social media. Just tag #FSRmagazine in your post.

Expert Takes, Feature