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A few weeks ago, one of our contributors, Will McGough (WakeandWander), got royally fed up with the "forced gratuities" on room service bills. Many readers and a few commenters thought he was naive for not anticipating that a luxury hotel with 24-hour room service was going to do this.
But Will was firm in his outrage, saying, "A tip is not a delivery fee, it is not assumed, and it is not required as part of the transaction." Hear, hear.
However, a reader who has worked in a luxury hotel offered this insight into the additional charges that top off a room service bill. Everyone should read this:
I understand the frustration Will McGough is feeling. Having worked in a luxury hotel, I have heard this feedback many times about room service gratuity. It can be surprising to see taxes, delivery charge and auto-grat (15-20% seems customary) already included. Top that off with a missed pre-arranged delivery time and trust in the hotel begins to erode.
A few things to remember before your next Room Service order:
Tipping extra for room service, when there are already gratuity and delivery charges involved, has long been a hot topic here at HotelChatter. But contributing editor Will McGough is seriously fed up with these service shenanigans. Here's his rant. Got a hotel rant of your own to share? Send it to us!
Before I went to bed at a $300+ per night luxury hotel, I called room service and ordered two plates of eggs, wheat toast, yogurt, and coffee for two. I asked that it arrive around 7:30 a.m., and after confirming this and my order, the woman hung up. I went to sleep. I woke up the next morning via my alarm at 7:20 a.m., brushed my teeth, and got back in bed to wait. I was on a semi-tight schedule, having to leave the room by 8 a.m., so when the clock turned 7:32 a.m., I decided to jump in the shower.
A few minutes later--probably five or so by my mental clock--I heard the knock at the door. I was in the shower, so my girlfriend signed for it. A little late, but no worries. I dressed and came out, poured some coffee, and dug in. After the quick meal, my girlfriend went to get dressed, and as I was moving the service table out of the way, I saw the copy of the receipt under one of the dishes. Curious as to what my girlfriend left for a tip, I looked at the bill.
She had left a smaller than usual tip, and when I asked her about it, she said it was because the food had arrived late. A woman after my own heart, for sure.
But then I looked closer, and my eyes immediately transformed into saucers. A forced gratuity had been added to the tune of 18%, something my girlfriend, an innocent rookie when it comes to luxury hotel stays, had overlooked.
An ocean tower suite
We're all about bringing the FUN! back into a hotel stay but sometimes, it's hard to motivate to leave the hotel room, especially after a long day of
shopping travel, partying meetings or Instagramming your feet on the beach exploring.
Eden Roc Miami Beach totally understands how tired you are, which is why they are now offering to bring the fun up to your room, cleverly pairing traditional board games with decadent room service items. Here are the six new additions to the room service menu:
The Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel is London is on the cusp of releasing a new smartphone app that strictly handles your room service orders.
With the Ordering App, you can select not just what you want to nosh on but also specific delivery times. Best of all, you can use this app when you're not in your hotel room but you want room service ordered upon your return. No, it's not ground-breaking app technology (we've seen the room service function on the Four Seasons LA app and the Upper House in Hong Kong's app) but it does make your hotel stay a lot easier.
The Ordering App will be released within the month to the iTunes store and we suspect the Android store too. Rates at the Andaz start at around $330 a night on weekends in May.
[Photo: Andaz Liverpool Street]
Room Service / Nobu Hotels / Turndown Service / Viva Vegas / Starwood Preferred Guest / Hotel Services / Caesars Entertainment / Natura Bisse / → All Tags
Here's what greeted us one Saturday morning--green tea waffles ($20), a specialty of the Nobu in-room dining menu, served with an egg and bacon along with traditional maple syrup, Yuzu whipped cream, and a sweet Shiso syrup.
Another thing that's still alive and well at The Nobu Hotel is turndown service which features not only little boxes of chocolates and a properly turned-downed bed but also a special lavender mist from Natura Bisse (they do the bath toiletries at Nobu as well.) Turndown service is in addition to the complimentary Welcome amenity at Nobu which is a pot of freshly made green tea and specialty crackers.
Another nice touch was the Nobu Hotel chapstick, passion-fruit flavored and with SPF 15 too. We wonder if all these goodies will make it inside the Nobu Hotel that's to open soon at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami. Or maybe they'll put a different spin on it--iced green tea and sushi bento boxes on the beach come to mind.
Now that traditional room service appears to be on its last legs, savvy hotels are coming around to the fact that they need to shake it up a bit.
At Seattle's Hotel Max, a new restaurant called Miller's Guild, the second from James Beard Award-winning Chef Jason Wilson of Seattle’s celebrated Crush, opened in December -- and now they are providing a new twist on room service.
Based on the hotel's premise that "guests are not interested in getting wilted carnations and plastic salt and pepper shakers," Miller’s Guild’s culinary craft -- an open faced Piedmontese steak tartare sandwich, for example, or sausage-topped kale and hazelnut salad -- is delivered in custom-stamped brown paper bags with butcher’s twine, compostable containers and personalized labels and tags, complete with the name of the cook who prepared your meal. So thoughtful! We whole-heartedly approve.
Rates start at $109 a night.
[Photo: Hotel Max]
TheWit is the first hotel in the Midwest to partner up with SPE Certified, a restaurant certification program that was founded in 2011. Quick crash course: SPE is an acronym for the Latin phrase Sanitas Per Escam, which means “health through food.” The program pairs chefs with nutritionists to create create meals that are low in salt, saturated fats, and processed ingredients. What’s left? Lots of tasty stuff— and much of it comes from local farms.
SPE dishes can be found through room service as well as at the hotel's first-floor restaurant State and Lake. Chef Evan Percoco’s menu now has 12 SPE-certified dishes (we’ve tasted some and they’re delish.) Options include a butter-and-cream free soup made with squash from a Michigan farm and deviled eggs with duck bacon from a Wisconsin poultry farm. There's seared salmon with chive yogurt, and Amish chicken with a mustard-maple glaze. For dessert, pastry chef Toni Roberts whips up inventive treats such as avocado brownies.
Or, you can skip dessert and head to the massage table instead.
Normally, taylor ham (or pork roll as it's also sometimes called) can only be found in Jersey, and most often, in diners and bagel shops. It's a specialty that's favored by many Jersey natives (especially for nasty hangovers) but scorned by outsiders who would rather just eat bacon or regular ham.
So imagine our surprise when we saw it on the menu in our hotel room in Hollywood, Fla. All in all it took about 10 seconds from the time we saw it on the menu to ordering it up from room service (along with an iced coffee.) And no, we aren't quite sure what's in taylor ham but we're ok with that.
Last week, we kinda couldn't believe a recent survey that said 75 percent of travelers no longer ordered room service. That seemed like a crazy high percentage given that so many hotels offer room service (budget brands and the Hilton New York not withstanding.) Not to mention we ourselves almost always order room service. Could we really be part of a dying breed of hotel guests?
Thankfully, a few of you room service loyalists agreed with us in the comments section. But one longtime HotelChatter reader, Courtney M., gave us an excellent tip on Facebook:
In most cities, I order delivery service using my iPad versus room service because it is so much cheaper and so many more options. Sometimes the hotels charge me a fee to allow them to deliver to me, but I usually just meet them in the lobby.
Ok, now that is smart. And convenient, especially after midnight or whenever the hotel stops ordering room service. But don't worry room service, we still want you in bed with us so you're safe for breakfast orders.
Got any other room service tips to share? Do it in comments below!
Room service, we wish we knew how to quit you. Actually, no we don't. We want to order you forever and ever and ever!
While CNT didn't seem too fazed by this report, we found ourselves looking around and wondering--are we the only ones ordering room service these days?
This particular editor has stayed in three different hotels in the past month and I ordered room service in two of them. Breakfast is an especially key room service order for me since I hate having to go out and scrounge for food early in the morning (or you know, get dressed and troop down to the lobby.) Plus, having breakfast in bed is truly one of the experiences I love most about hotels. I definitely can't get that at home.
Gripes about delivery charges and overpriced items aside, a few of us here at HotelChatter also had straight-up conniption fits this summer when the Hilton New York killed their room service. For a luxury hotel to remain luxury or even just "full-service" we strongly believe they need room service. That said, we ain't knocking the other brands that have free breakfast spreads down in the lobby. Quite a few of them do it good. And they are certainly cheaper than these insane in-room dishes.
But usually, if there's room service menu sitting on the desk in our hotel room and we're tired and hungry, you can bet we're going to order up something to eat.
Maybe we aren't in the majority on this topic? Tell us if you still order room service in comments below!
We're currently in Philadelphia, getting the scoop on the city's hotel scene and checking out the new Radisson Blu near Rittenhouse Square, which we will give you a look at next week.
But in the spirit of a good old-fashioned spoiler, we learned that the Rad Blu will offer in-room massages since they don't have a spa on-site.
While we doubt many would agree that in-room massages are an equal substitute for a spa facility, we do appreciate the gesture from hotels, the extra "room service," if you will. That said, we're curious as to what travelers think of this concept that has almost become common at mid-to-luxury city hotels without spas.
We all know that ordering gourmet fare directly to your hotel room door comes with a cost. One that some of us will gladly pay for, especially if it truly is on par with fine dining and we get to enjoy a small feast in our pajamas. Plus, there is something fun and a little reckless about not caring one iota how much the apple pie à la mode will wind up costing when you go to check out. It’s either a vacation or going on the company card anyway, right?
In most cases this might be true, but allow us to suggest paying a bit more attention the next time you peruse the all-day dining pages. Because while the average luxury traveler has no qualms about spending $30 on a cheeseburger (à la carte of course), we have found a few room service items that will have every one of you thinking twice before ordering. Although, if you are in the mood to splurge, some of these might just be worth every penny.