The joys of room service are usually 90% fantasy and 10% based in reality.
The joys of room service are usually 90% fantasy and 10% based in reality. Sitting in a plush hotel room in an oversized robe and calling down to room service (while resisting the temptation to call whoever answers the phone Jeeves) is exactly the kind of luxury we want from a hotel stay; it's an escape from the everyday. But the reality of room service has been a much starker thing with cold, chewy food and hardened bread rolls wheeled in to the bottom of your bed as you hold the door open with your foot.
Well, it seems that dry pastry baskets are a thing of the past, with hotels around the world coming around to the fact that if, in this day and age (or "in this economy," take your pick), people are actually booking a room and paying for it, they're expecting much more than a weight-sensored mini-bar with stale, unsalted peanuts. Take Beverly Hills' SLS Hotel. Their very Spanish-inspired room service menu is trumped only by the roving cotton candy foie gras and caviar cone cart that penthouse guests can take advantage of.
And it's not just high-end hotels adopting this new trend. The Ace Hotel in New York will send a hot or iced cup of super hip-and-delicious Stumptown coffee to your room 24 hours a day. At the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Miami, you'll adopt a "hate to go, but love to leave" attitude when your stay comes to a close with a whimsical and tasty "Ready to Fly" meal.
If the London fog becomes too thick for you to leave your hotel, join the Charlotte Street Hotel's Sunday screenings with a three-course meal just downstairs. Or let's say you feel like a wine tasting but can't possibly be bothered to leave your room? Hope you're staying at the One and Only Palmilla, where the room service wine list reads like oenophile's dream.
Cocktails and hotel rooms in Las Vegas go together like horses and carriages, and peanut butter and jelly combined, which is why every hotel on the Strip should follow the Cosmopolitan’s lead. Their room service beverage menu is available 24 hours a day, offering “kits” to mix cocktails in the comfort of your room.
There’s the requisite Cosmo kit, but then there’s the Mojito Cubano kit (Montecristo 12 year, fresh mint, lime wedges, club soda, cane syrup) and a Bloody Mary kit (roasted garlic Ketel One, homemade Bloody Mary mix, and antipasto skewers). For beer-lovers, there are microbrews that come with individually wrapped salty beer snacks.
What about minibars? Check out The Daily Meal's picks for most gourmet minibars here.
The Mandarin Oriental knows that getting to and from their luxurious suites can be a lackluster experience with barely edible airport food (that you have to pay for). So, they provide “Ready to Fly” meals, which can include smoked salmon on a bagel, sushi or sashimi selection, a roast turkey club sandwich, or a freshly baked muffin. Thanks, but no thanks, $7 snack-pack.
For those with kids who love to "camp," book a next flight to Chicago before the summer’s end. Their Happy Campers amenities include the never-ending joy of an in-room tent (built by hotel staff), a visit from the Candy Man and his sweet, colorful cart, in-room s’mores, and a Ritz Carlton backpack filled with special treats for if/when you ever do go back outside.
Coffee-snobs have long lauded the Portland-based coffee of Stumptown as among the best around — competing only with such outfits as Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia. And while many travelers feel like sleeping in the wee hours to recuperate from a long day of airports and taxis, coffee-lovers will want to take advantage of the Ace Hotel’s offer of 24-hours of freshly brewed Stumptown coffee, delivered straight to your room.
José Andrés has a sense of humor with food, that’s for sure. At the helm at the SLS Hotel, he’s shaken up in-room dining by offering a sumptuous Spanish room service menu with jamon Iberico, all Spanish-cheese plates, Spanish flan — all available 24-hours a day.
If you’d rather be more black and white about it, take a look at the Saints and Sinners mini-bar, which separates alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well as treats (unsalted nuts vs. chocolates) into the two camps. But the real luxury comes with a penthouse suite, to which you can order cotton candy foie gras and caviar cones whenever you like.
Ordering wine to the room can be a limited, at best, experience. When you think about it, it shouldn’t be. Two robes, doors open to the balcony, the sun is setting, and then room service arrives with a bottle of wine — it makes perfect sense and that bottle of wine shouldn’t taste like swill.
The One and Only Palmilla, in Cabo San Lucas, boasts an enormous wine list with bottles hailing from all over the world and all available in your room. For when you do feel like leaving the room, you can arrange a tequila tasting on the hotel property.
Full disclosure: this one does require you to leave your room (but not the hotel). Pajamas and robes should be left behind, but the comfort of the dark hotel screening room should prove well worth it.
At London’s Charlotte Street Hotel, spend Sundays dining on a three-course lunch, dinner, Champagne afternoon tea, or a platter of bar snacks and cocktails while you watch new releases on the big screen. Think crayfish with a celery and pea shoot cocktail, broccoli fritters with a lemon caper dressing, and grilled flank steak with baby spinach. Sure beats butter “flavored” popcorn at the theater.
The cheeky humor of the W Hotel chain is apparent in every detail — the front desk even answers the phone with a friendly “what’s your wish?” But the Whatever/Whenever program takes their saucy service to the next level. Accommodating every (legal) request from a boxed lunch for the road to a bathtub filled with chocolates, they’re proving that if you can think of it, they’ll make it happen.
Because 24-hour room service is no problem for a staff that once planned a last minute birthday party for 12 friends who took a private jet from New York to one of South Beach’s hottest restaurants.