Nothing screams “I’m on a vacation” better than a hotel stay. Add “luxurious” into that already pleasurable experience by getting a fancy hotel room service.
Just imagine staying in an elegant suite, wearing a plush robe and slippers, then calling the front desk for gourmet meals delivered to your doorstep. No need to cook or order from a food delivery app and — all you need to do is sit back and relax until you hear a knock on the door, with a cart full of grand, appetising meals and a bottle of wine.
Sounds heavenly, right? However, room service isn’t always as splendid and sumptuous as it seems. It comes with a set of downsides too. Aside from its ridiculously expensive price, some room service meals have issues in terms of taste, freshness, and value for money.
If you’re getting room service for the first time, here are 8 things to keep in mind so you can manage your expectations well.
1. It has a reputation for burning your cash
Truly, convenience and comfort do come with a price. And in this scenario, it’s a hefty price tag. That delicious and filling BLT sandwich you usually enjoy from Subway? You can have something similar in a hotel, but thrice the price and 25% less in serving size.
Aside from size, the quality might not be worth the price. Don’t be surprised if you find that the deluxe-sounding “gourmet pizza” and shrimp cocktails are pre-frozen.
2. Nope, it might NOT be the best meal you’ll ever have
“Fancy” doesn’t necessarily mean “quality”
It’s safe to say that the “star” of the room service isn’t the food itself. It’s the opulent experience that goes with it. It’s the privilege of feeling like a master, warm in your bed, just watching TV while an all-suited up crew serves you a full-course meal. It’s also an opportunity to impress your loved one during your special day, like if you’re planning an intimate dinner date during your anniversary.
As for the food? Hopefully, it’s not Gordon Ramsay’s “Hotel Hell” kind of bad, but they’re most likely to be good, decent, but not remarkable. Unless the hotel prides itself on its culinary expertise, you’re more likely to find tastier grub elsewhere. Green flags of a great-tasting menu: if they regularly host weddings (and they have in-house catering services), and if their food is coming from their in-house restaurant, like this hotel in Kildare.
3. Order course by course
If the freshness and overall quality of your food are top concerns, hotel insiders suggest ordering course by course. This way, you won’t have to worry about your entree going cold or your ice cream melting while you enjoy your starter.
Just let the hotel know. More upscale hotels will be more likely to accommodate these requests and even alterations to the dish, but be mindful of those who won’t.
4. No to room service coffee
If it’s free, go give it a try. But if it’s priced the same or higher than the ones in the local cafe down the block? Click the “pass” button. Some hotel insiders reveal that it’s shitty coffee, brewed from old, nasty kitchen urns.
5. Consider the travel time from the kitchen to your room
If you’re on a higher floor, like six stories or higher, don’t expect the food to be in the best shape when it gets to you. The food may arrive cold. Anything crispy, like onion rings or fries, might be soggy. Hot dishes may be lukewarm.
Even with dedicated dining elevators, delivering from the hotel’s basement kitchen to the penthouse can still be a challenge. It could take up to 10 minutes to reach you after it leaves the kitchen, and it’s longer if there are any other room service deliveries along the way.
6. Choose the best dishes for hotel room service
Aside from managing your expectations, it’s also wise to choose the right dishes. Order something that’s already cold, like salads. Hot meals can still arrive lukewarm, except for soups which often stay hot.
Other meals travel better than the others, like club sandwiches and fries that are steak-cut. They’re always fresh too, as they have high turnovers. When it comes to steak, order it one shade rarer than your preference. Since the trip to the room may take a few minutes, your steak will continue to gently cook while in the trolley. Want to make the most out of your money? Go for protein. We’re talking about lamb, veal, filet mignon, and such. Hotels make the least profit on the highest-priced items, and they’re at the best value.
7. Manage your expectations when the weather is bad
No, it’s not about the soup going cold. It’s about paying extra for something that may be prepared by someone with mediocre culinary skills.
Lisa Brefere, an experienced hotel chef and owner of Gigachef, revealed that hotels can get totally screwed by the surge of orders during horrific weather. When there are snowstorms or heavy winds and rains, everyone else has the same idea: to opt for room service. During this time, staffers from other departments help out in the kitchen. In other words, your dinner might be prepared by someone who’s not a chef by profession.
8. Pick up the phone and order from a live person
Not from a bedside tablet loaded with apps, or from an in-room television. If you’re paying from a classic, fancy room service, you might as well go old-school and pick up that phone.
One of the perks that set room service apart from food delivery apps is the chance to speak with a real, breathing person. Your order taker can guide you through the menu and can even share suggestions, like bestsellers, chef recommendations, side dishes, or off-the-menu dishes. You can also learn about daily specials and happy hours.
Go give hotel room service a try! It might be one of your greatest indulgences if you know how to play your cards right. Cheers!
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a foodie and travel blogger who hates being locked up at home. Her fondness for travel, food, and cultural appreciation makes it easy for her to write inspiring pieces of content about them. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Osprey Hotel.