Would you like fries with that view of three skeletons? McDonald’s opened its first “museum-restaurant” in Frattocchie, a small village south of Rome, last month. Diners can slurp their milkshakes on top of a glass floor that’s been specially constructed to show off the stretch of ancient Roman road beneath.
The archaeological site – part of the Appian Way, the Roman Empire’s most famous highway, which ran from the capital down to Brindisi in Puglia – was discovered in 2014, when the area was being excavated for the new restaurant. McDonald’s, to its credit, chipped in €300,000 (£260,000) to the restoration. As well as the road itself, paved with the iconic Roman basalt slabs, archaeologists found three skeletons. A fourth was found beneath a nearby petrol station with a coin in its mouth – believed to be an offering to Charon, the mythological ferryman who took dead Romans down to the underworld. But don’t let that put you off your Big Mac: the real bones were taken away, and replaced with resin casts.
If the idea of ordering a Filet-o-Fish in the land of pizza and pasta makes you feel a little queasy about your travel priorities, don’t worry – you can walk through the underground gallery, without setting foot in the restaurant above. But if you’re up for chowing down in a spectacular location, here are more of the most spectacular McDonald’s branches in the world.
Described by travellers as the “most beautiful” and “most opulent” McDonald’s in the world, Budapest’s Nyugati station branch was designed by the Eiffel Company, who built Paris’s famous tower (it’s not for nothing that Budapest has often trumpeted its credentials as the Paris of Central Europe). Diners eat their Big Macs beneath an elaborate stuccoed ceiling on posh tables. It’s the best way to feel better about eating junk food on holiday.
Taupo, New Zealand
The McDonald’s in Taupo, New Zealand, comes with a decommissioned plane on the side. The site was previously part of a site owned by the Aeroplane Car Company, and the DC-3 plane came with it.
Diners can sit in the 20-seat aircraft, which was built in 1948 and flew 56,282 hours in its working life. Co-owner Eileen Byrne has said: “We’ve had some really special moments over the years, like we had one man in his late eighties, Ray Misson, who was the last person to ever fly that plane when it was a top-dresser. It was quite a job to manoeuvre him into the seat but once we had him sitting there, it was a dream.”
A McDonald’s restaurant might not seem to be a natural fit for the Yangshuo area, known for its breathtaking natural beauty, all picturesque mountains and a glistening lakefront. Especially since the modern building sits directly on said lakefront. But at least you get unspoiled views of the water as you eat.
Conspiracy theorists have claimed that an alien aircraft crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 (the US government insists it was a nuclear test surveillance balloon). And alongside the UFO museum, alien-shaped street lamps, an annual UFO festival and other themed shops and restaurants, McDonald’s has gone all out with a spaceship-shaped restaurant lit with neon, and Ronald McDonald as an astronaut in the play area.
One for the grown ups: this futuristic building was designed by award-winning architect Giorgi Khmaladze, and features 460 glass panels on the outside with a reflective pool around it. Khmaladze says the patio area is “enclosed from all sides to protect the space from outside noise” and provides “calm open air seating”, so there’s scope for post-Big Mac meditation.
New Hyde Park, USA
McDonald’s had originally intended to demolish the dilapidated Denton House building in New Hyde Park (on Long Island beyond Queens), but they didn’t bet on tenacious local residents who fought for the 18th century house to be given historic designation. Thwarted, McDonald’s were allowed to build a single-storey drive-thru round the back, on the condition that they restored the exterior to its original splendour. Now, from the outside, you’d (almost) never know.Reuse content