DEBATE: Can hotels keep up with dining trends?

As consumer confidence returns and with new emerging food trends on the rise, deciding on a hotel menu to satisfy a range of palettes can be tricky. But does the fast-pace of the foodie environment allow for hotels to react to these movements and can hotel restaurants really be influenced by the most current dining trends?

“I don’t think that hotel restaurants are that influenced by dining trends as it is a little more difficult to change your concept within a hotel environment. You tend to see hotel restaurants keep to their concept for a longer period than stand-alone restaurants.”

“How much influence will depend on the hotel operator and the market they operate in; also whether they run a hotel dining room or a ‘restaurant with rooms’. Hotel dining rooms provide good food but more for sustenance than a restaurant that provides food for entertainment with the aim to excite and heighten the eating experience. Most boutique hotels run restaurants not dining rooms, Christchurch Harbour Hotel is a great example – since changing the style and format of what was a hotel dining room to become the ‘Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant’ we have seen a huge rise in turnover through non-resident trade and ‘in-house’ guests spending more. Essentially, those who are influenced by current dining trends will be the successful modern boutique hotel.”
Alex Aitken, chef patron, Harbour Hotels

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“Hotel restaurants vary hugely; you often have a standard casual hotel restaurant that has to appeal to the masses, and then you have the celeb chef restaurant that is seen as a flagship or extra draw to the hotel. When a hotel only has one restaurant it can be hard to follow current trends too much as you have to really analyse what a traveller might want to eat and this isn’t always ‘on trend’ and creative. The balance can be found though and having a high standard of food and produce is becoming more and more important and expected in hotels.”
Sophie Michell, head chef at Pont St, Belgraves

“At Castle House I don’t think we are influenced that much by current dining trends. The overriding trend is that our customers like to know that the food we have is local, seasonal and is freshly cooked and not heated up. We have our own farm where we raise pedigree Herefords and rare-breed sheep and grow vegetables, herbs and soft fruit and this has definitely been trending for many years now.”
Claire Nicholls, executive head chef, Castle House, Hereford

“It is possible the industry is lead by what seems to be popular at the time. However when we decided to operate our 25-mile menu we weren’t following any trends; we were trying to show the importance of good quality local produce being showcased on a menu that reflects the area, whilst operating a sustainable view of growing from our walled kitchen garden and fruit cages. Fast forward a couple of years and it seems like every hotel has a kitchen garden of some description and sources locally! Was it just a trend or is it all about the taste of good quality produce that has changed people’s perspectives on sourcing? Only time will tell.”
James Golding, head of chefs, The Pig

“At The Bell many of our customers and diners come from cities and so some do expect to find a similar offering on our menus. However, not all do so we do try to offer a balance of something for everyone. We very much listen to our customer feedback and have recently found that there has been a return to comfort foods such as fresh, seasonal soups, crispy pastry pies, surf and turf. In response to the recent trend for sharing food, we introduced ‘Pass the Joint’ on Sundays so families and friends can carve their own meat and serve it up at their table with vegetables. This has been really popular and is great fun!”
Marc Montgomery, head chef, The B
ell at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire



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