When your work revolves around travel, you establish some personal preferences, on-the-road routines, and strong opinions. In our Travel Showdown series, travel advisors, industry leaders, and Virtuoso staff face off over some of travel’s most divisive topics – from packing methods to room service. This month, two Virtuoso Life editors debate the pros and cons of a classic luxury hotel amenity – in-room dining.
Do you love hotel room service?
Hold Me Close Now, Tiny Ketchup
Some say room service has a time and a place. Yes. It is any time, in any place. Is there anything more unabashedly “I’m on vacation, ya’ll!” than eating breakfast in bed while wearing a fluffy robe? I’ll never forget the miso soup and rice my friend and I dug into at the Mandarin Oriental, Paris after a late night (er, early morning) in the Latin Quarter. (Sometimes you need your own pot of French press coffee before facing the day, alright?) There’s the convenience factor too: Not much beats a hearty, in-room meal before a long day of travel, especially if you know all that’s waiting for you at the airport at 6am is a soggy croissandwich. To those who say I’m missing out on the local finds … that’s what brunch is for.
Professing my love for room service doesn’t make me any less of an adventurous traveler. Discovering a new city through its food is the best. My husband and I build entire vacation itineraries around restaurant reservations. And dinner at the corner bar with a good book is one of my favorite solo-travel pastimes. Sometimes though, summoning a meal with that little button on the bedside phone is the answer. Last winter I was in Vienna on assignment. I was feeling that special brand of nausea and exhaustion that comes with being nine weeks pregnant and logging a 20,000-step day. The obvious cure? Pajamas. And French-onion soup. And a side of fries – with one of those adorable little ketchup bottles. And a slice of apple strudel. (I’m forever grateful, Park Hyatt Vienna.) Because, real talk: The craving for comfort can strike anytime, anywhere, and if that means carbs wheeled into my suite on a silver platter, so be it. – Amy Cassell, manager, digital content
I admit it was fun and novel in the early days. I get it – it’s glamorous at first, that feeling of living it up in a hotel suite. A knock on the door and a “Where would you like this set up, Mr. Paul?” (“On the balcony, of course!”) The cart, the silver domes, the individual ketchups and tiny Tabascos… Friends talked up the luxury of dining in their bathrobes or “comfortable pants” or of not having to eat alone in restaurants. But one morning you’ll catch a glimpse in the mirror – shoes kicked haphazardly into a corner and an $18 French press beside slices of limp toast and wan cantaloupe – and the guilt hits: I’ve got to stop doing this to myself.
Step away from the phone and look out the window: There’s a whole city of cafés or a village bakery that you may never again have the chance to try. You can picnic in your bedroom at home every other day of the year. You’re on vacation: Step out for that flat white and gussied up toast; bring on the baguettes with real butter or hunks of Pierre Robert triple-crème; tackle neighborhood taquerias. And as for that solo dining thing, no disrespect to significant others (hi Steph!), but there are few things more indulgent and worldly than enjoying a great meal at a bistro counter by yourself. Plus, that bow-tied bartender always has a line on other places nearby worth your time.
It’s easy to give in to the moment, but let’s aim higher. After all, no frite crisps up hoping to get steamy with a steak in the service elevator. – Justin Paul, senior editor
Top Photo: Fotostorm/Getty Images