Hotels never have a more captive audience than they do when a guest orders in, yet many just don't exploit the opportunity. Even the best-known luxury establishments who rave about their Michelin starred kitchens can drop the melon ball when it comes to catering for us in the comfort of our suites. Far too many serve up mediocre food that has already taken too long to arrive and then wonder why we balk at the price.
We asked around amongst our well-travelled insiders
to find out what they love and hate about in-room dining. And what they suggest hotels should do to stand out when we stay in. And lets be honest world travellers can be tough critics. For example world famous aussie super-chef Neil Perry , who is also the creator of
business menus, loved The Peninsula Chicago, adored the gym and the spa but his opinion of the hotel was coloured by his view of the room service fare. He said , "There are lots of good restaurants in Chicago. However if you prefer to eat in the hotel I would avoid the room service. I found it to be a disappointment. "
What luxury insiders love:
1. After a hectic working or sightseeing day we actually enjoying spending time in the suite we paid a fortune for. Hotels should realise that good in-room dining reflects significantly on the room experience and has an impact on whether we return which is disproportionate to the money we spend on the meal.
2. We adore finger food, or something simple to eat because we're not sitting down to Al la Carte here we're eating with one hand while playing with the TV remote, checking emails or phoning home.
3. We love ...not having to dress for dinner, in-room bathrobes are de rigueur.
What luxury insiders hate:
1. Food that's cold on arrival when it should be hot.
2. Staff who thrown the tray in the general direction of the nearest convenient surface and then proffer the bill.
3. Waiting and waiting ...and waiting (In-room diners shouldn't feel like second best).
4. Having to phone and remind staff we've order food...
5. ... and then getting the wrong order.
What hotels should do:
1. Create 'signature' dishes available only on room service.
2. Brand the menus with 'heart choice' or 'healthy' logos just like they do on some airlines. The person ordering in-room dining has probably eaten out on rich food for three nights previously and it looking for 'lite'.
3. While you are at it have a special room service wine list too. How about half bottles for those of us who don't want to sit and get quietly sozzled alone but would like more than a glass?
4. Treat us. Make us feel good about being in our expensive rooms. You give us a chocolate on the pillow, how about surprise chocolates with our coffee. Or better still complimentary coffee and petit fours as standard after any in-room meal. Or a free book for bedtime (who needs a Kindle anyway?).
5. Don't over charge, prices should be substantially lower than if we ate in the restaurant downstairs and sometimes they are not.
6. This is a hotel's chance to think laterally. We are captive in our rooms with time to kill so why not give us a free room service magazine with suggestions for what to do within the hotel (this person doesn't want to go out after all); entitled 'Staying In' perhaps. Or give us a brochure on special deals; we often won't read information simply left in our rooms but we might if it is left on the corner of our tray.
7. Treat us to a special in-room flourish don't just dump and run. Decant our wine, lay our table, squeeze our orange juice ... but don't outstay your welcome...
...this is our chill time after all.
Anne Paris 29/7/11