A Look Inside the Most Expensive Restaurant in the World

The Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza joined forces with Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero for the mysterious, mesmerizing Sublimotion, touted as “the most expensive restaurant in the world.”

The self-proclaimed “world’s first gastronomic show” required the work of set designers, architects, screenwriters, engineers, illusionists and choreographers. The experience seats only 12 guests at a time and serves 20 food tastings over three hours. The price tag: 1,500 euros per person. Luckily, I’ve got an invitation and someone else’s credit card.

Table for 12

A nondescript door on a nondescript facade at the hotel opens. We’re ushered into a dark room. I’m standing inside a small hotel lobby from the 1940s. Atop an antique table sits a radio quietly purring songs from another era. Behind an art deco desk is a bellhop who greets us warmly. “Welcome to Sublimotion,” he says as he passes out small envelopes sealed with a dab of red wax. Inside: a tiny ticket. “The invitations are edible,” he says with a sly grin.

The doors to the dining area open. It’s entirely white, a bleached rectangle with a long white table surrounded by 12 white rolling chairs. The entire room is one giant screen for 360-degree projection: fire, ice, forests, beaches. Twelve teleportation chambers appear above them, one bearing my name.

Take the Blue Pill

Two Spanish women wearing reimagined 1950s flight-attendant apparel lead us to our respective positions. One by one, they offer an oversize pill from a velvet-lined box. Into my mouth it goes, and I’m rewarded with a cold explosion of intense olive flavor fueled by liquid nitrogen.

The room begins to flash, and images are projected onto everyone’s faces. Momentary glimpses of skeletons are superimposed atop our features. Then, suddenly, the room goes dark. It is minute 13 of this three-hour phenomenon, and it only gets more peculiar from here.

La Comida Loca

The walls transform, placing us on the tilled ground of a Tuscan farm. The guests are presented with wooden crates full of leafy and root vegetables poking out of an olive-tapenade “soil” from which we harvest our salads.

The image projections put us under the sea. Whales and dolphins swimming around the room accompany a glowing conch shell filled with tiny, briny bites of oyster and calamari. Put on the virtual-reality goggles, and vital statistics about the dish hover over the plate as if the comestible were a video-game character. Next, the tall, slender, narrator-slash-hostess brings us through a dense forest paired with a heady mushroom soup.

Step Right Up

The sights and sounds of a carnival take over as large carousels are placed on the tabletop. Miniature versions of fairground food spin around; the guests pick out tiny puffs of cotton candy. I guess this is dessert.

The meal culminates with the 25-person team individually painting on the place mats before us. What begins as an abstract shape soon coalesces into an edible version of The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. A fitting dining and drinking denouement.

When to Go

“Ibiza season” runs May through October. The famous opening parties start at the end of May, like an Ibiza-style spring solstice. July through August is the peak; everything is open, guaranteed — it’s when you’ll experience the Ibiza you’re imagining. The first weekend of August brings BBC Radio 1 weekend, which draws thousands from all over the world for DJ lineups and special events. Go in September for better prices and to catch the closing parties. By October, a lot of venues are closed, but it’s great for affordability.

Where to Stay

Public spaces at the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza are ready to delight with the expected rock ’n’ roll memorabilia. Of particular interest is Floyd’s Bar, where cocktail drinking is enhanced by incredible handwritten notes, signed album covers and concert posters from the founding members of Pink Floyd.

Before You Go

There’s no direct flight from the U.S. to Ibiza, but all the big carriers can put you within striking distance of the tiny party island. Aside from a suitcase full of trendy thongs, pack plenty of sunscreen, a week supply of analgesics, and a Type F power adapter — so you can have a fully charged phone ready to text apologies for all the late-night calls you made to exes after partying a little too hard.