Hotel Room Service Done Right

Filed Under: Hotels

While I rarely order room service while staying at hotels in the US, I order it pretty frequently when staying at hotels outside the US. There are a couple of reasons for that:

  • I’m often short on time when traveling internationally, since I have a lot of work to catch up on after a longhaul flight; I’d rather spend my limited free time sightseeing than eating at a restaurant (ideally I’ll do both, but sometimes it’s just not practical)
  • I’m often on a weird time schedule when traveling internationally, so breakfast at 2AM or lunch at 8AM sounds better than what I’d be able to get otherwise

While a lot of people think room service is overpriced, let’s keep in mind that it’s actually a money loser for many hotels. And that’s why we’ve seen so many cutbacks when it comes to room service, whether it’s limited hours, a limited food selection, huge service charges, third party vendors being used, having the food delivered in plastic containers, etc.

While the quality of room service food as such varies considerably, I rarely appreciate how the setup between hotels differs.

I recently stayed at the St. Regis Beijing (yes, the one with the club lounge), and I think they had my favorite room service setup ever:

  • The menu was extremely extensive, both in terms of Asian and Western dishes
  • You could order anything from the menu 24/7 — in other words, you could order a pizza at 7AM or a breakfast set at 8PM
  • In addition to being able to order the entire room service menu 24/7, you could order anything off the restaurant menu whenever the restaurant was open (this even included a Japanese restaurant which isn’t technically part of the hotel)
  • There was no fixed delivery charge, but rather just the same 15% service charge billed to everything at the hotel (and there was no line to add tip)

And the food was even good!


Perhaps it’s just a sad reflection of the state of room service, but I was amazed by how impressed I was.

Do you ever order hotel room service, and if so, what do you value most about it?

  1. Just stayed at the Ritz Beijing and the food did not look like that nor was there much to choose from. The Indian dish was “sold out.” I ended up with the Club Sandwich and it was $34. Not too great for rooms service.

  2. The absolute best Room Service I ever had was at the Peninsula Hong Kong. We had a Harbour View Room with an almost floor to ceiling plate glass window. The nightly light show was about to start and we ordered Dim Sum Room Service to eat while the light show was on.

  3. Random hotel that you’ll probably never stay at, but The Penn Stater hotel in University Park, PA has an excellent restaurant and excellent room service. Set 15% charge, can order anything on the menu for the same price as downstairs, and they typically take less than 20 minutes to deliver. Fantastic option for busy conference or sports events days, or if you don’t feel like eating alone in the restaurant when traveling solo.

  4. I just ordered room service this morning at the Hyatt Regency Century City. A small pot of coffee, a glass of OJ and an egg sandwich – $44. I have no idea how the HRCC isn’t making money on that. It’s absolutely freakin’ ridiculous and I won’t ever order room service there again.

  5. Room service is something that is a near necessity for me to stay at a property–even if I only avail myself of it once out of every three or four trips.

    This is why I think the oft-said “room service loses money” is false. It isn’t about pure profit on the service itself. It’s about bringing in people who value the option and will pay more in room rate for a property that has it.

    For me, if the max service charge I’ll pay is $3, max auto gratuity is 18%, and I’ll check the restaurant prices to see if there’s a big disparity. Otherwise, it’s easier to just find the nearest takeout place or just get to-go from the hotel bar/restaurant.

    Beverages are usually a poor, poor decision for room service. A pot of coffee is typically $12 or $16. I think that’s crazy. But, there are times when I’m working from the room and prefer food delivery, or the hotel bar/restaurant is packed, and I’d prefer things to be quiet.

  6. one universal rule I have is I never order any beverage other than free water or tea/coffee that comes with breakfast.

  7. i gotta admit i am the most frugal cheapskate out there when it comes to room service. i just won’t order any.
    i would just stroll down the street and get whatever i need from a convenience shop at a fraction of the cost when outside the country.

  8. I had an interesting room service experience at the Scandic Anglais hotel in Stockholm about 10 days ago. The hotel restaurant is a Jamie Oliver restaurant and was very good for hotel food. For room service you call and they call you when it’s ready and you pick it up yourself on a nicely presented tray, much to the envy of people waiting for a table that are not staying at the hotel. I had an excellent ribeye with fries and still water for under U.S. $30 which is a phenomenal value for room service in my opinion.

  9. I probably spend $20k a year on room service! Some places it’s an extreme rip-off, but you can’t beat the convenience.

    I also won’t stay at a hotel that doesn’t offer 24/7 room service.

    Hotels in Dubai are the best in this regard. Not only is everything 24/7, but the menus are extensive and the setup is divine.

  10. Rarely ever had room service, but the other day at a fine hotel on 1st ever business expense I wanted to kick myself after I realized we could have just gotten room service Instead of the expensive cafe and had the same food. I would do it of I were often doing business travel instead of going out, but since I’m used to my own penny then I’m always looking for just food.

  11. I had to stay at a hotel for work recently that was in an area with only 2 breakfast places and they were both tiny with lines out the door. Room service breakfast was the best option, and it was always delivered on time and as a bonus, the waiter was a hoot. It was only available when the hotel restaurant was open though, so nothing before 7 a.m.

  12. Room service (RS) is necessity. Oftentimes I will intentionally book a hotel just because they have RS. It’s important that the hotel posts the RS menu on their website along with prices so that I know beforehand if I need to bring something to eat because sometimes the menus get a little too locally creative and/or pricy (think alligator-eggs benedict and nothing else on the menu below $25). I either travel alone or with a handicapped person and usually my traveling partner is in pain after a hard day of travel. I am female and have been harassed at hotels by not only staff but also “lonely hearts” hoping for a hookup. Some have even come knocking on my door (how they found my room number I will never know)! When traveling alone, I have learned that ordering RS at night usually is my only dinner option.

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