Travel Tips: There’s an art to ordering room service


Room service is often the last refuge of business travelers, and an overpriced, under-seasoned option for travelers without many options. 

According to Martyn Nail, the executive chef of Claridge’s hotel in London and author of the recently released “Claridge’s: The Cookbook,” “the food you get isn’t necessarily a reflection of who prepared it,” he said. “There’s an art to ordering room service.”  

He has a few tried and tested ways to make sure every room service meal is a good one.  

— Order Course by Course  

If Nail isn’t in a rush, he requests that his meal is delivered in courses because the food tastes fresher and the dining experience feels more special and leisurely.  

Surprisingly, most hotel kitchens have no problem fulfilling this request.  

“I don’t like the idea of my entree getting cold while I have my starter, and if I’m having ice cream for dessert, it’s going to be melted by the time I get to it,” he said.  

— How Well a Dish Will Travel?  

Many hotel kitchens are in the basement while your room might be on a high floor, which means that your meal could take up to 10 minutes to reach you after it leaves the kitchen, and that’s not including any other room service deliveries along the way.  

While hot items are usually delivered in a hot box, they can still arrive lukewarm. Soups are the exception and tend to stay hot.  

Also, if you see a soufflé on the menu, don’t bother ordering it. Nail said that it will be a pancake by the time it reaches you.  

Club sandwiches and Caesar salads, on the other hand, travel especially well.  

If there’s a regional dish or specialty on the menu, however, go for it. Nail said that these local specialties have been some of his best meals on the road.  

— Go Off the Menu  

“Hotel kitchens tend to have a wide variety of ingredients on hand, and if the chefs have time, they are happy to make you what you want,” Nail said. Just be reasonable and ask politely, and you’ll have great results.  

Give advance notice, preferably 12 hours, if you want a labor-intensive dish or something particularly special.  

— Order Through a Live Person  

Pick up the phone and speak to someone to place your order, even if you have the option to do it electronically through a tablet, app or your in-room television.  

Nail said that your order taker is your guide through the menu and can share suggestions such as side dishes. And talking to a real person is the only way to hear the daily specials or ask about options that may not be included in the menu.  

— Speak With the Hotel’s Sommelier  

Most luxury hotels have one, and they’re not there just to help in the restaurant or at the bar.  

“If you want a good glass of wine, a creative cocktail or another spirit to go along with your meal, ask for the sommelier to give you a call to discuss your options,” Nail said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Want to be a gastronaut? Let these tours lead the way

When it comes to consuming a culture, it’s hard to beat digesting it in the literal sense, which may explain the explosion of food-related trips.  From Texas to Turkey, food is a point of differentiation for many destinations and, according to the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization, food is helping drive tourism to rural regions...
Oregon couple reflects on 20-month, 18,000-mile cycling odyssey
Oregon couple reflects on 20-month, 18,000-mile cycling odyssey

BEND, Ore. — They had endured grueling climbs while crossing the Andes six times, relentless rain and wind, endless desert, vicious dog attacks, scary crashes and an agonizing bout with dengue fever.  So it is no wonder that when Bend’s Kristen and Ville Jokinen approached the end of their 20-month, 18,215-mile cycling journey in Ushuaia...
What’s around the Fillmore

The Fillmore stands near the confluence of three neighborhoods. Here’s what to visit in each. ——— Fillmore District For a jazzier scene in a throwback setting far smaller than the Fillmore, step across Geary Boulevard to the Boom Boom Room at 1601 Fillmore St. Once known for its association with John Lee Hooker, the Boom Boom...
Talk Travel: Going to South Dakota? There is plenty to see in addition to the National Parks

The Washington Post's Travel section writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: We'll be staying at a cabin near Rapid City, South Dakota in late June/early July for eight nights. Besides the National Parks and National Monuments in the area, what other interesting sites are recommended?...
A road map to shopping like a royal

The British royal family has long been a source of public fascination, captivating mere mortals in Britain and beyond with a passion for all things Windsor.  Toss a wedding into the mix — specifically one so storybook as the nuptials of Prince Harry and his American fiancée, Meghan Markle, on Saturday — and the excitement swells...
More Stories