A Room Service of One’s Own

Travel Blog  •  Alexander Basek  •  04.15.09 | 5:18 PM ET

After a terrible-yet-exciting day in the Malaysian town of Johor Bahru last fall, returning to my room at the Hyatt was the highlight of my visit. Malaysia’s second largest city had not treated me well. Worse, I missed dinner. It was late, and I was hungry. So why, even under duress, did I waffle about ordering room service? Don’t worry, I did—and I didn’t hesitate to remove several Tiger beers from the mini-bar while I waited—but I felt guilty about it anyway.

For years, I saw room service as a luxury for people with too much money or not enough inclination to explore the city they were visiting. Why bother to stay in when so many other options were outside the front doors of the hotel? In Johor Bahru, though, I was glad to have it. As my writing career has progressed and I’ve found myself holed up in towns where bringing a laptop outside isn’t such a bright idea, room service has come in handy. It’s never very good, but that’s the price you pay. Literally—food on a silver platter doesn’t come cheap.

So what does room service mean to you? Is it utility food or a time to splurge when getting dressed is too much to ask?

Alexander Basek is a food and travel writer based in New York City. He is the Best Deals reporter for Travel + Leisure. His writing has also appeared in the New York Post, Time Out New York, and Fodor's.

8 Comments for A Room Service of One’s Own

Michael 04.15.09 | 6:00 PM ET

Utility food for sure.  If it’s late, raining, and I don’t yet have a good knowledge of my surroundings I’ll do room service.  Otherwise, I agree, it’s better to go exploring instead of staying in your room.

Rachel 04.15.09 | 6:55 PM ET

I think it can be both. Particularly when you’re working, room service can be a necessary utility. But sometimes it represents the ultimate wonderful splurge. Last summer in Maui, I’d spent a busy day hiking through the rainforest and came back to my hotel room to relax. There wasn’t much nearby that I felt like walking to for dinner, and I didn’t have a car. So I ordered room service even though it was overpriced and ate on my balcony while overlooking a spectacular Pacific Ocean sunset. It ended up being my favorite meal of my trip, worth it for the utter relaxation and indulgence of having someone bring my food to me.

Grizzly Bear Mom 04.16.09 | 9:57 AM ET

What’s room service?  Never ordered it.  It was always more fun for me to go out exploring.  I might miss meeting, seeing or learning something interesting if I stayed in the room.  To travel is for the expereince, so I spend my time and money outside of loding and dining.

Robert Reid 04.16.09 | 11:24 AM ET

I order it sometimes. Only when it’s late and finding other food is far or impossible. And it still feels decadent. In Oklahoma City earlier this year, had trout. Last year, I was in Naypyidaw, Myanmar—the new generals’ capital—and had room service. I tried eating in the restaurant. ‘No sir. The generals are having a meeting there now.’ Singapore noodles. Not bad.

Alexander Basek 04.16.09 | 11:32 AM ET

I usually have a list of places I want to eat when I travel, which is why ordering room service feels so darn lazy. Stil, sometimes you just hafta do it. Or stay in a hotel room with a kitchenette. Or cook ramen noodles in the coffee maker.

Emma 04.16.09 | 8:08 PM ET

Ramen noodles in the coffee maker, that is a new one for me. I think room service can come in handy, but I hate the over-priced mini fridge…it’s so tempting.

Ling 04.18.09 | 10:31 AM ET

Only 2 reasons to order room service - it’s late in the night and you’re too tired to go out, or you want to stay in all day - like a romantic getaway, or something like that.

Matt Gross 04.20.09 | 9:30 AM ET

Club sandwich—it’s the classic room-service order, and worth trying around the world to taste the variations (egg or no egg? bacon in the Middle East?).

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