Hotels Are Quitting Room Service — Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing for Your Wallet

Bed breakfast with coffee cup, croissants and orange juice on white sheets.
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Hotel room service is one of the most luxurious parts of a vacation. Ordering some champagne and a steak straight to your bed is pretty sweet. But that experience was getting harder and harder to find even before the pandemic started. Only a quarter of hotels were offering room service in 2016. Hotels report that providing room service is almost always a loss for them. It explains why after COVID-19 especially, room service has dwindled significantly.

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Not only were there cleanliness precautions taken to prevent the spread of the virus, but hotels simply weren’t doing the business they were in prior years. This leads to hiring fewer people, and fewer people wanting to work in the hospitality industry, which is bad news for the future of room service. Cutting room service isn’t a bad thing. Plus, you’ll be getting your food at a fraction of the cost. Here’s how to have your steak and it, too, when it comes to having food in your hotel room.

Make Your Money Work for You

Room Service is Notoriously Expensive 

Ever order a sandwich and a soda using room service and get a bill for $60–not including a tip? That’s because there are a few fees that all hotels tack on to make room service profitable for them. There is usually a 15% service fee, plus an in-room dining charge. That charge can vary but usually falls between $5 and $12. 

Hotels (especially luxury ones) are preying on the idea that you’ve already spent a good chunk of change to stay there, so why not add a little bit more for food delivery? The hotel will also probably price the items on the menu moderately, not warning you that there are all of the extra fees attached, so you’ll be more likely to order. Not having room service as an option means you’ll have to seek out other venues. More often than not, even eating at a restaurant will be cheaper than ordering room service.

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High Cost = High Tip

Following the idea that you should tip 20% on dining transactions, your tip on room service is going to be significantly higher. In fact, because of the fees, you could end up paying more for an in-room meal than the same meal in a restaurant. Going back to the sandwich and soda example from before, if your bill is $60, you’ll need to tip $12 on top of that. That’s a nearly $75 meal for two items. If you went to a restaurant, you’d receive significantly more food and drinks for this cost. 

Make Your Money Work for You

Room Service Portions Can Be Small and Cold

One of the main complaints about room service is that the food is not what you were expecting. Now, you’ve shelled out a lot of money for something that isn’t filling. Plus, foods that are best served hot have definitely cooled significantly since leaving the pan and being transported to your room. Now you’re left with something small, cold and unsatisfying. 

Ordering through an app, or bringing food back to the room ensures you’re getting what you pay for in a way room service can’t. 

Ordering Through a Delivery App is Cheaper 

If you’re still looking for the ease and convenience that room service offers, you can still get it. If you have Grubhub, DoorDash, Caviar, UberEats, Postmates or any other delivery app, you can see what’s near your hotel and have it delivered. Though each of these apps has delivery fees and service fees, they usually range between $1and $3 for each. Often, these apps will offer options that don’t have a delivery fee, so you’d only have to pay a few dollars extra for the service fee. Even with the tip, that’s much cheaper than the $15+ extra you’ll pay for room service. Hotels now are also pairing up with certain delivery apps, so you can order through a tablet in the room, potentially scoring you a hotel discount as well. 

Make Your Money Work for You

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About the Author

Sam DiSalvo is an LA-based comedian, writer and actor who's performed all over the country. Her written work has appeared in numerous digital publications. As a copywriter, she's worked with a variety of major brands including GoldieBlox and Thrive Causemetics. Sam loves dogs and is currently perusing leisure suits to buy for her corgi mix, Barry
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