It’s no secret that McDonald’s has long desired to be a global franchise. This is a goal they’ve achieved decades ago and still strive towards to this day. Many countries have adopted some aspects of Western culture and many of them now have their own McDonald’s.
In some cases, the idea of a McDonald’s fast food location is offensive to locals. Some feel that American fast-food does a disservice to the local ethnic cuisine. Some feel that the buildings themselves are eyesores. To combat these feelings, some of these McDonald’s locations have added more local fare to their menus. In many cases, the locations have used already established architecture instead of building new American-influenced buildings. This has led to some rather unique McDonald’s locations that have even been featured on travel television programs, in magazines, and tourism blogs. Who would have thought a McDonald’s would ever be a tourist destination?
Here are ten of these extremely unique McDonald’s locations built since the brand has spread across the globe. First, let’s take a look at one in McDonald’s country of origin.
10. Colonial Mansion McDonald’s – Hyde Park, New York
Even in the U.S., locals still want to preserve the historic architecture. The origins of this McDonald’s go back to 1795, well before the McDonald’s founder was ever born. It was originally built as a farmhouse by a man named Joseph Denton and has since been known as The Denton House. It was converted to a mansion in 1860 and throughout the better part of the 1900s it was used commercially as a funeral home and other restaurants.
In the 1980s, the mansion had fallen victim to neglect and McDonald’s purchased the property with the intention of bulldozing the mansion and building a new store. Fortunately, the citizens of Hyde Park had the building deemed as a historical landmark and McDonald’s had to use the existing building for their new location. The result is arguably their most beautiful location in America.
9. Airplane McDonald’s – Taupo, New Zealand
If you’re ever taking in the natural scenery in New Zealand and feel the need to eat something familiar, the McDonald’s near Lake Taupo would be a nice option. A DC-3 sticks out of the side of the play area and even has a dining area inside the plane during the day-time hours. The plane once carried passengers for Austrailian National Airways and then spent time as a crop duster before becoming a fixture at the Taupo location.
Unfortunately, if you were thinking of sampling the notorious Serious Lamb Burger, unique to New Zealand and Australia McDonald’s locations, you’re out of luck. The item was discontinued in the middle of last year due to slow sales.
8. World’s Biggest McDonald’s – London, England (sort of)
The odds are if you’re planning a trip to London you’re probably not concerned with finding a McDonald’s. In the event you were hoping to make the World’s Biggest McDonald’s a stop on your European vacation, you’ll be out of luck; McDonald’s only ever intended it stay open for six weeks.
This McDonald’s was built specifically to cater to the 2012 Olympic games in London. The interesting part about it is nearly 75% percent of the building was recycled or reused in other locations. Even the used cooking oil was converted into bio-fuel for McDonald’s UK delivery trucks.
7. The McDonald’s on Spanish Broadway (Gran Via) – Madrid, Spain
This is not your typical McDonald’s. Reviewers have claimed the burgers actually taste like all-beef and you get real potato wedges instead of fries. The McCafe in the location sells chocolate dusted cappuccinos in actual coffee cups as well as the types of scones and macaroon’s you’d expect from a high-end bakery. They also serve beer, a rather unusual menu item that you wouldn’t see in a McDonald’s location in its country of origin.
The inside architecture is consistently described as classy by Yelp reviewers due to its marble walls and chandeliers. The outside architecture is incorporated into the outside historical buildings of the Gran Via.
6. McDonald’s Drive Thru – Ulsan, South Korea
This McDonald’s drive-thru is an interesting location. For starters, it doesn’t use the typical red and yellow color scheme; opting instead for bright pinks and neons. The structure also sports a huge moth-wing-like structure on tall columns to keep the customers outside from getting wet in the event of inclement weather. This structure isn’t there to keep outside diners dry, but because this McDonald’s also sells gasoline.
At the time this McDonald’s was built, it was very unique to the surrounding architecture of Ulsan. In most cases, a McDonald’s has a stand-alone appearance due to being incorporated into pre-existing architecture.
5. McDonald’s – Tbilisi, Georgia
In the country of Georgia, Western fast-food chains are seeing an opportunity to expand their business even further into the global market. Wendy’s and McDonald’s have both established locations in the country. Three of McDonald’s Georgia locations are all in Tbilisi but one of them stands out among the others.
When Western fast food chains first made their way into the country, many residents felt that fast food would hurt local slow-cooked cuisine and the buildings would be eyesores. Fortunately, McDonald’s chose to go with a look that was in keeping with local architecture. The fast food chains have more or less became places where youth congregates for quick affordable food and to take advantage of free Wi-Fi.
4. McDonald’s in Downtown Hangzhou – Hangzhou, China
This Chinese McDonald’s location doesn’t just bring Western food to the fast food arena. Aside from being unique in its architecture, once again incorporating already standing local buildings, the location offers rice plate dinners for those that prefer to have local cuisine instead of Western. They also boast a much wider variety of pie flavors such as pineapple, banana, and taro (a Southeast Asian root vegetable).
This location also boasts a service many college students have dreamed about for ages: delivery.
3. McDonald’s Imperial – Porto, Portugal
This McDonald’s reused a historical building from the 1930s known as the Imperial Cafe. This pleased a number of the Porto locals due to the building being in desperate need of restoration before the McDonald’s purchase. The outside has retained an eagle statue at the entrance and the inside is full of mirrors, beautiful chandeliers, art deco stained glass, and ornate architecture on the high ceilings.
There are a few unique menu items but for the most part the food is exactly what you’d expect from a McDonald’s. This can be quite the comfort for expatriates or tourists feeling a little homesick.
2. Exotic McDonald’s in Yangshuo, China
Yangshuo has more English language schools than any other city in China. The city is also a haven for foreign tourists looking to backpack and rock climb in scenic China. It is for these reasons it comes as no surprise that American fast-food like KFC and McDonald’s have built locations in the city.
This location blends in well with local architecture and sits on the water where diners can dine in a pagoda. The only thing that sticks out is the highly recognizable “golden arches” logo but it’s since become less noticeable as other fast food restaurants and chains like Adidas have opened outlets as the city caters more towards foreign tourists.
1. McDonald’s by the Spanish Steps – Rome, Italy
This has been dubbed “the fanciest McDonald’s in the world” and in a city so full of history and sight-seeing, has been added to its roster of tourist attractions.
The outside of the building doesn’t stand out as much as some of the others on the list; however the interior is quite the site. There are trickling fountains, statues, and mosaic walls. Most of the interior is marble with cobblestone steps leading up to the actual restaurant.
The menu has much more variety with specialty pastries in the mornings, a salad bar, and various specialty dinners like Jamaican jerk chicken with Caribbean rice.