laatste update: 10-2021
I WORK IN ROOM SERVICE AT A 5-STAR HOTEL — THESE ARE THE BIGGEST THINGS I WISH GUESTS WOULDN’T DO
I’ve been working in the room-service department of a five-star hotel for six months.
Actually, it’s a five-red-star hotel: The red part is a special distinction awarded by AA Hotel Services (an organization specific to the UK, which is where this hotel is located) that means we go above and beyond normal five-star hotel requirements.
Basically, it’s the fanciest kind of hotel you can possibly stay at.
Yes, we cater to well-known celebrities and high-profile guests. But the beauty of our service is that all guests are treated equally as nicely — whether we like you or not.
Saying that, your hotel experience will be much more enjoyable if we do like you. So here are some important do’s and don’ts for your next stay, from the girl who brings you breakfast and restocks your mini bar.
DON’T: Order room service when you’re not fully (or even mostly) dressed.
Delivering breakfast to people who are half-dressed (or worse) is not really how I like to start my day. Apparently, lots of guests seem to be too hungry in the morning to abide by simple rules of common decency. Please, just put some clothes on before opening your door to room service.
Robot assisted hotel opens
DO: Make small talk with us when we bring up your meal.
Even though we’re required to follow a particular script when we come up to your room, we do still like to engage in a little small talk.
Comment on the weather, ask how our day is going, or tell us about your stay so far. This is a great way for us to assess how happy our guests are.
DON’T: Use anything from the mini bar if you don’t have to.
Although I’m sure my managers feel otherwise, I don’t like it when guests take items from their mini bars.
The mini bars in each room of our hotel contain over 20 different kinds of snacks and drinks, and I’m in charge of restocking them — meaning that I have to review a master list in every single one of our 144 rooms every day to figure out if anything’s missing.
Then, I have to bring the items to each room via a very badly designed, top-heavy cart, or, if it’s not on the cart, I have to run across the entire hotel to get it from the supply closet. This whole process can take over three hours.
Since my idea of fun isn’t exactly running (what feels like) a hundred miles to replace that one water bottle you felt like drinking, I would love it if you all just brought your own refreshments.
Some people are overly critical, but others are afraid to speak up if they aren’t satisfied. As long as you tell us nicely, we really do want to hear if there’s something we can do to make your stay more pleasant.
Tell us in person when we visit your room, leave a note, or talk to the front desk — these are the most efficient ways to make sure a wrong gets righted.
DON’T: Ask for anything (too) outrageous.
Since we’re a five-red-star hotel, we have to try our best to comply with any and all of your requests. We’ve orchestrated wedding proposals, served champagne on the beach, and hosted lavish surprise parties. Those things are doable for us, but scheduling a charter flight to Guam tomorrow is not.
DO: Say hello to us in the hallways.
It may seem obvious, but we hotel staff are real people too. Without our uniforms on, we’re no different than the other guests. Some of us even stay in the hotel sometimes. (We get a fabulous employee discount on rooms.)
So please, just treat us with respect — it makes the work environment so much more enjoyable.
DON’T: Get mad at us for visiting your room.
We have a strict protocol to follow, which involves visiting rooms several times a day to collect room-service items and restock the mini bar. If you don’t want to be interrupted, use your “Do Not Disturb” sign. We are not allowed to enter a room or even knock on the door when that sign is hanging, so you’re guaranteed peace and quiet.
DO: Put in your room service orders as far in advance as possible
The worst thing for us is getting a last-minute call and scrambling around the hotel to get all of the dishes you requested. We don’t just have an endless supply of breakfast food cooking — chefs work in shifts, and it’s really hard to get a breakfast together if the breakfast chef has already left.
Someone once called in a full three-course breakfast at 12:05, just after breakfast had closed at 12. Being a five-red-star hotel, though, of course we had to try our best — which meant a bunch of cursing chefs and a lot of unnecessary stress for us room-service people.
So just try to let us know about your order in advance, and we’ll be sure to bring it to your room on time.
DON’T: Ask us about the celebrities in the hotel.
We’re not allowed to tell you who they are, what room they’re staying in, or if they’re even in the hotel at all. Because of super-strict confidentiality codes, we may not even know who’s in the hotel at any given time.
DO: Tell us about yourselves.
We work at five-star hotels because we love to delight our guests in fun and creative ways. If you tell us a bit about yourselves when you check in, or in passing throughout your stay, we can play to your likes and dislikes and make sure you have the best experience possible.
If you say that you like the flowers in our garden, we’ll bring you up a bouquet. If your kids don’t like waffles, we’ll come up with a cool breakfast alternative.
It’s those little things that can make a great hotel stay truly amazing.
10 Secrets of Hotel Room Service
Guests visiting New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in the 1930s enjoyed an amenity that was unheard of at the time: waiters delivering meals directly to their rooms. While the Astoria’s reputation for luxury has endured, room service is no longer exclusive to five-star stays. Roughly 22 percent of the country’s 54,000 hotels are willing and able to bring breakfast, lunch, or dinner to people who prefer to eat while splayed out on a large and strange bed.
To get the scoop on what goes into getting food from the kitchen to your floor, Mental Floss spoke with Matt, a hospitality specialist who spent a total of 10 years working in and around room service for a major San Francisco hotel. Matt preferred not to use his last name; since his stories sometimes involved naked people, undercooked chicken, and Oprah, you can understand why. Below, check out a few things you should know before you dig into that tray.
1. THE HIGHER YOUR FLOOR, THE WORSE THE FOOD GETS.
When a room service delivery employee takes a tray from the kitchen to your room, it’s typically covered in a metal lid to retain heat and to prevent other guests from sneezing on it. The higher up you are, the longer it has to travel—and the more that lid traps steam, soaking your food in moisture. “Food sweats in there,” Matt says. “Instead of having crispy, toasted bread, you get wet toast. The longer it stays in there, the worse it gets.” If you want crunchy fries, you’d better be on the first couple of floors.
2. DON’T ORDER SEAFOOD. OR STEAK.
A seafood dinner is presented on a plateThat lid is a nuisance in other ways. Because it traps heat, it’s effectively cooking your food in the time it takes to get from the chef’s hands to yours. “If you order a steak medium, it will probably be medium well by the time it gets to you,” Matt says. While you can try to outsmart the lid by requesting meat be cooked a notch lower than your preference, it’s not so easy to avoid overcooked fish—which will probably also stink up your room. Instead, stick with burgers, club sandwiches, or salads. According to Matt, it’s hard to mess any of them up.
3. THE HOTEL CHEF MIGHT NOT BE PREPARING YOUR FOOD.
Just because you see a menu in your room, it doesn’t mean the hotel has a kitchen or chef on-site. To cut costs, more hotels are opting to out-source their room service to local eateries. “It might be ‘presented’ by the hotel, but it’s from a restaurant down the street,” Matt says. Alternately, hotels might try to save money by eliminating an overnight chef and having food pre-prepped so a desk clerk or other employee can just heat it up. That’s more likely if sandwiches or salads are the only thing available after certain hours.
4. SOMETIMES GUESTS INVITE THEM IN.
Two coffee cups sit on a hotel bed
No, not for the reason you’re thinking. Because so many hotel guests are business travelers who are away from home for weeks or months at a time, some of them get tired of eating alone. When that happens, they turn to the first—and maybe only—person who could offer company: the room service waiter. “People are usually traveling alone, so they’ll offer you food,” Matt explains. Sometimes the traveler is a familiar face: According to Matt, he once sat down to eat with Oprah Winfrey, who was eating by herself despite her suite being filled with her own employees. He also says he had a bite with John F. Kennedy Junior, who wanted to finish watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High before heading for his limo.
5. THERE’S A TRICK TO ORDERING CHICKEN WINGS.
Busy hotel kitchens aren’t always paying attention to whether the chicken wings they buy in bulk are frozen raw, frozen cooked, or somewhere in between. “Ask for them extra crispy,” Matt says. That way, they’ll be cooked thoroughly regardless of their freezer status. “I recommend that to everyone.”
6. THEY LOVE IT WHEN YOU FILL OUT YOUR BREAKFAST CARDS.
A hotel guest pours milk into a bowl of cereal
Breakfast is undoubtedly the busiest time for room service, and those little cards that allow you to check off your menu items the night before are a huge help. “It’s great for everybody involved,” Matt says. “The kitchen can pace themselves and you can get your food on time.”
7. THEY WOULD PREFER YOU NOT ANSWER THE DOOR NAKED.
Yes, guests answer the door barely clothed. No, this is not optimal. “We don’t want to see it,” Matt says. “It’s something we dealt with numerous times.” While it’s likely your waiter will use discretion, any combination of genitalia, drugs, or illicit activity is best kept out of their sight.
8. YOUR USED TRAY DISGUSTS THEM.
A hotel room service tray sits in a hallway
That move where you stick your soggy fries outside your door? It can lead to some awkward encounters. Matt says he’s seen other guests stop, examine trays, and then pick up discarded food from them. Other times, people leave unimaginably gross items on the trays. “I’ve found condoms on there. Divorce paperwork. All kinds of things.”
9. THEY APPRECIATE IT WHEN YOU CALL TO COME PICK UP THE TRAY INSTEAD.
Weird people aside, “We don’t really want it out there,” Matt says. “It stinks.” Instead, dial 0 for the front desk and let them know you’re done eating. They’ll dispatch someone to come and get it.
10. WHO GETS THE TIP?
A tip is placed near a hotel check
People pay out the nose for room service, with hotels adding surcharges for “service” and “in-room” dining that can turn a $5 club sandwich into a $15 expense. That’s not great news for guests, but it does mean you don’t need to feel bad about not offering a cash tip. Those service fees usually go straight to the employees who got your food to your room. “I never tip,” Matt says. “Most of the time, the service and delivery charges are given to the waiter or split between the people who answered the phone and pick up the tray. It’s better to leave it all on paper to make sure it gets divided up.”