WASHINGTON • Bleary-eyed from a long flight that lands after dark, staring down an even-moreexhausting work trip ahead, you drop your luggage in your hotel room, grab the room service menu and flip straight to the "late night" pages... only to find nothing but cheeseburgers and club sandwiches.
Room service might be one of the most indulgent perks of staying in a luxury hotel, especially if you dig in while wearing a plush bathrobe.
So it is a longstanding mystery to frequent travellers that the critical late-night hours, usually between midnight and 6am, are consistently neglected by hotel food and beverage managers.
There is a reason for the culinary blackout. After dinner service ends and before breakfast begins, the kitchen gets whittled down to a skeleton crew whose capabilities are limited to pasta, salads, simple sandwiches and soups. And that is if the hotel offers late-night menus at all. (Some have thrown room service programmes out the window, claiming the concept is no longer profitable.)
But not all hotels have given up on feeding you well late at night. The big-city establishments here stand out not only for their comfortable rooms and top-notch service, but also for their ability to satisfy your hunger pangs - with local flavours - all around the clock.
Anantara Siam, Bangkok
In the heart of Ratchaprasong, the Thai capital's premier shopping district, this recently rebranded property (formerly the Four Seasons) provides excellent respite from the chaos of downtown Bangkok. Tons of amenities - eight restaurants and bars, a pool surrounded by a lovely garden - make it feel like an urban resort too. Your late-night order: Midnight meals make up only 11/2 pages of an otherwise sprawling room service menu. But what makes the cut is legitimately interesting - crab spring rolls, Thai omelette with minced pork, pad thai tossed with prawns, a satay sampler and mango with sticky rice.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
It is known for having some of the best restaurants in all of Vegas - including a Momofuku, Eggslut and STK - so it would be easy to overlook The Cosmopolitan's in-room dining.
But the lures of Sin City nightlife mean you may well come back hungry after all those dining rooms have closed. If you do, you will not feel slighted. A broad menu is available until 6am, with hangover cures and hearty meals alike.
Your late-night order: Transition from a night full of drinking to a morning full of meetings with housemade hummus and warm pita, then detox with a tuna Nicoise salad. Or bring the Vegas surf-and-turf buffet into your apartment-size room by ordering a New York Strip sandwich and a pound of steamed crab legs.
The Dorchester, London
London's Dorchester is a bona fide hospitality institution where A-listers take afternoon tea in the classically plush Promenade and gourmands clamour for reservations at Alain Ducasse's namesake spot.
The glamour extends to the rooms, with a decidedly regal aesthetic and an all-hours room service menu that pulls out all the stops.
Your late-night order: Channel the royal family (Buckingham Palace is less than 1.6km away) and hew to the menu's most opulent items - Beluga caviar and buckwheat blinis, a seafood mixed grill or a 600g T-bone steak.
Not one for such gluttony? A robust spa menu means you can actually order something that is both delicious and healthy, like the Vitaly bento box, which includes a tomato soup, stir-fried beef with cashew nuts and honey, and a banana-blueberry-avocado smoothie.
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown
This new TriBeCa hotel is more pared-down than your typical Four Seasons - think monochromatic colour schemes and subtle floral patterns. What is not minimalist? The detail-oriented service, from the bellmen who remember your name to the meticulous housekeepers and the always-on kitchen staff. Breakfast is served until a delightful 11pm and the rest of the room service menu is available 24 hours a day. Your late-night order: An especially large menu means you can go for the three-course, in-room feast of your dreams. Your starter? A trio of perfectly seasoned crudo (soya yellowfin tuna poke, spicy lobster and truffle-ponzu hamachi). Then comes a fortifying plate of tagliatelle bolognese, which the server will finish tableside (or bedside) with a heap of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. And to close, a slice of classic New York cheesecake - cherry topping and all.
More is more at this pyramid-shaped hotel that is dripping with marble and ornate chandeliers: There are seven restaurants and bars; the pool is lined with imposing, mosaic-tiled pillars; the gold-trimmed accommodations are among the city's largest; and the in-room dining menu includes 43 pages of tasty treats.
Your late-night order: Skip the Western-style comfort foods you can order anywhere else and train your sights on the Arabic section of the menu. It includes excellent renditions of Emirati classics such as tabbouleh salad, labneh with za'atar and harira lamb soup (a Middle Eastern tomato-and-bean concoction amped up with garlic and lemon).
Shangri-La Hotel, Paris
Tucked away in the elegant, crowd-free 16th arrondissement, this palace hotel has it all: balconied rooms with Eiffel Tower views, two restaurants with Michelin stars, a gorgeous pool drenched in sunlight and a light-flooded spa in the estate's former stables.
Your late-night order: Live out your most decadent French fantasies with such indulgences as scrambled eggs with caviar and foie gras on toast. If that will ding you on your corporate expense report, more modest choices - French onion soup, cheesy Croque Monsieurs and a millefeuille for dessert - will still have you swooning.