MIAMI • Room service is often the last refuge for business travellers tired after a day full of meetings, or an over-priced, under-seasoned option for late-arriving holiday-makers without any dining-out option.
According to Martyn Nail, executive chef of Claridge's hotel in London and author of recently released Claridge's: The Cookbook, there is an art to ordering room service.
He has five tried-and-tested ways to make sure that every meal ordered is a good one.
1 ORDER COURSE BY COURSE
If Nail is not in a rush, he requests that his meal is delivered in courses because the food tastes fresher and the dining experience feels more special and leisurely.
Surprisingly, most hotel kitchens have no problem fulfilling this request.
"I don't like the idea of my entree getting cold while I have my starter, and if I'm having ice cream for dessert, it's going to be melted by the time I get to it," he said.
2 HOW WELL WILL A DISH TRAVEL?
Many hotel kitchens are in the basement while your room might be on a high floor, which means that your meal could take up to 10 minutes to reach you after it leaves the kitchen.
And that is not including any other room service deliveries along the way.
While hot items are usually delivered in a hot box, they can still arrive lukewarm. Soups are the exception and tend to stay hot.
Also, if you see a souffle on the menu, do not bother ordering it. Nail said it will be a pancake by the time it reaches you.
Club sandwiches and Caesar salads, on the other hand, travel especially well.
If there is a regional dish or speciality on the menu, however, go for it.
He said these local specialities have been some of his best meals on the road.
3 GO OFF THE MENU
"Hotel kitchens tend to have a wide variety of ingredients on hand and if the chefs have time, they are happy to make you what you want," Nail said.
Just be reasonable, ask politely and you will have great results.
Give advance notice, preferably 12 hours, if you want a labour-intensive dish or something particularly special.
4 ORDER THROUGH A STAFF MEMBER
Pick up the telephone and speak to someone, even if you have the option to do it electronically through a tablet, app or your in-room television set.
Nail said your order-taker is your guide through the menu and can share suggestions such as side dishes.
And talking to a person is the only way to hear the daily specials or ask about options that may not be included in the menu.
5 SPEAK WITH THE HOTEL'S SOMMELIER
Most luxury hotels have one and they are not there just to help in the restaurant or at the bar.
"If you want a good glass of wine, a creative cocktail or another spirit to go along with your meal, ask for the sommelier to give you a call to discuss your options," Nail said.