On the far wall, I notice a museum-quality selection of art and several bouquets of perfectly arranged, vibrant flowers––red, yellow, and orange.

Next, I notice that we’re heading toward a sunken main dining room with a couple of stairs leading down to it. Tables of various sizes are spaced generously and set meticulously with gleaming glassware, polished silver, and mini-bouquets of their own. The atmosphere is upscale yet convivial, exclusive yet inviting.

As we grow nearer, I notice a woman who is about to take a bite of something gooey and chocolaty. She takes a carefully portioned taste, closes her eyes, and collapses back into her chair in glee. 

I know we are in for something special. Right now, though, I’m just hoping I don’t fall down the stairs.

Minutes prior, when we arrived at DANIEL’s posh address in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, we stood for a moment to collect ourselves. As lovers of all things travel––especially epic experiences––we wanted to be in the right mindset to appreciate every beat of what was about to happen. We then proceed into the restaurant through the anticipation-heightening, revolving door that piques the curiosity of passersby and beckons you in.

Outside DANIEL


Of course, we knew that what awaited us at DANIEL, one of the best restaurants in the world, was going to be special and memorable. Leery of over-hyped experiences that can ultimately fall flat, we managed to keep our expectations in check.

It turns out that there was no need for modulation. Our one word verdict for the night: Exquisite. 

Even better, this exquisite experience is available as an Expedia+ rewards Exclusive Experience to members. As loyalty program enthusiasts and long-term Expedia customers, we jumped at the chance to try out one of the experiences that proves the Expedia+ rewards program is all about choice and flexibility.

Sure, Expedia+ rewards members can use accumulated points for travel. But did you know that points also may be used for donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and for unique, handpicked entertainment, music, and dining experiences?  

It’s easy. Simply search the site for an experience that interests you, submit the simple form, and an Expedia Concierge will take care of the rest. 

Our Expedia+ rewards exclusive pick, the VIP three-course “Dining Experience At DANIEL,” is valued at 15,000 points per person and is just the kind of distinctive splurge that we like to cash in on (we’re also those guys who use our frequent flier miles for once-in-a-lifetime, first class, flying experiences!). And distinctive it was. 

As we settled in at our table-with-a-view at DANIEL, we were treated to a champagne toast while we perused the menu and continued to take in the atmosphere.

Immediately we were disabused of any concern that the restaurant might be overly stuffy as we observed a wide range of diners having a variety of dining experiences. Businesspeople having power dinners, anniversary celebrators, and birthday revelers all were present on the night we were there. Don’t let the chic environment or coveted three-star Michelin rating deter you. Put on your fancy clothes and lean into it.

Viewfinder Tip: Really want to splash out? Check out the Expedia+ rewards Exclusive Private Skybox experience at DANIEL.  

In addition to that champagne opener and three delectable courses, the experience included wine pairings, gratuity, coffee, and bottled water.

While we don’t want to give away everything––and we certainly don’t want to clue you into the other surprises that await––we do want to share a couple of the highlights from our meal.

If the Butter Poached Jade Tiger Abalone shows up as an appetizer on your menu, order it without hesitation. The rich, perfectly chewy mollusk is served in its iridescent, jewel-like shell and is surrounded by a luscious, rich white sauce and braised greens. 

Similarly, if you’re presented with the Duo of Beef as an entrée option, don’t miss it. While the seared Wagyu tenderloin serves as the tender, melt-in-your-mouth moist half of the duo, the braised short ribs in a carrot mousseline steal the spotlight away. My mouth waters thinking about the morsels of seasoned rib meat mixed with the carrot concoction––think buttery, creamy, and a little sugary. 

Already reviewing our evening as we went back out through that winged, rotating door, we were quite certain that we must have ended our meal with the same dessert we saw that elated woman enjoying on our way in. We both shared her gleeful reaction with our first bites of the Warm Guanaja Chocolate Coulant. The gooey, liquid caramel, decadent chocolate, and velvety milk sorbet are a combination our taste buds will remember for a long, long time.

How would you spend your Expedia+ rewards points?