Delivery to hotels from outside restaurants
June 11, 2009 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Can you get food delivered from outside restaurants to hotels?

When I've stayed in hotels and browsed through the room service menu in lieu of anything better to read, I've often thought two things:
(a) damn, this food sounds boring;
(b) they want how much?

So this got me to wondering -- let's say that somehow I knew a restaurant near the hotel that delivered. (This is not unridiculous, thanks to the wonders of the Internet.) Could I call them up and have them deliver? And if they did, would it be polite to tip a little more for making the delivery person have to fight their way past the front desk?

This is a purely hypothetical question; I'm not actually planning on doing this any time soon.
posted by madcaptenor to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes. I've had it done. I even went to the front desk and they had local take out menus.
posted by spec80 at 9:01 AM on June 11, 2009

Of course you can. You don't need to tip extra; this is no different from a delivery man entering an apartment building.
posted by kmennie at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2009

Absolutely. I've ordered pizza many times and had it delivered to my hotel rooms.
posted by at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2009

Yes. Done it plenty of times. Usually pizza or chinese.

How easy it is for them depends on the hotel. I've given them the room number and they knocked on my door. Other times, reception grabbed them and confirmed with me I had indeed placed an order.

Tip is at your discretion.
posted by vacapinta at 9:04 AM on June 11, 2009

Getting food delivered to the front desk is standard. Having them come to your room might require a more covert operation, and if the delivery guy / gal was even willing to participate, I think a few extra bucks would be in order. Of course then the expense becomes such that regular room service is competitively priced.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 9:04 AM on June 11, 2009

Yeah, I do this a lot. Most decent hotels leave a book in the room that has menus from local restaurants that deliver. Failing that you can call the concierge or front desk and ask what restaurants delivery options you have in the area, they get those kinds of questions all the time so they will usually be pretty knowledgeable about it.

Obviously the hotel wants you to order from their over-priced room service menu if possible (or even better, use your mini bar) but more than that they want to help make your stay in their hotel as convenient and comfortable as possible. If they can help you get what you want to eat while you're staying there and it makes you more likely to stay there in the future, that's going to make them money in the long run. And tip the delivery guy well, but only because you should always tip them well.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:12 AM on June 11, 2009

Even the walled confines of Walt Disney World let in delivery drivers. And yes, most hotels even have menus at the front desk or have menus in the Guest Information book in your room. Some allow the drivers to the room (maybe the front desk gets to know certain restaurants) and some call you to pick up from the front desk.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:26 AM on June 11, 2009

A hotel isn't like a movie theatre. You're allowed to bring in outside food. The last hotel I did this at didn't let the guy come upstairs, but I got a call from the front desk telling me the delivery guy was waiting.
posted by hwyengr at 9:27 AM on June 11, 2009

Even if the hotel doesn't have a dedicated book for outside restaurants, there's usually a yellow pages tucked away somewhere.

It's not really a big deal for the driver to find you either. If anything it's nicer since he doesn't have to scour the streets looking for the right building. I wouldn't tip more than usual; a couple of extra dollars should be more than enough.
posted by scrutiny at 9:29 AM on June 11, 2009

I worked as a delivery driver a while back. I delivered to hotels and motels without complaint or difficulty. The customer would always just give their room number and I'd deliver it right to them.

I never expected a bigger than normal tip, it really is just like delivering to an apartment.
posted by oddman at 10:25 AM on June 11, 2009

I read this question three times trying to figure out the twist... but there wasn't one.

Of course you can order anything you like to your own hotel room. Pizza, filet mignon, hookers, whatever. It's no different than going to the restaurant yourself, ordering something, and carrying it back 'home' in a doggy bag, right?

Bonus: you can go to a grocery store and get orange juice for less than $9 a bottle, right? You can even use the bar fridge for it. ;)
posted by rokusan at 10:26 AM on June 11, 2009

Yes. I have had some of the best meals by getting delicious food delivered to my boring hotel room and then watching bad cable and eating chicken alfredo. Sometimes they make you go to the lobby to get the food.
posted by jessamyn at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: To those who think the answer is obvious: it's not quite so obvious. The people who own the hotel own it; they have the right to control who comes in and out. It would certainly be an asshole move to not allow delivery. But this is coming from an industry that charges people through the nose to make outgoing local phone calls from their room. (I assume people use cell phones now.)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:50 AM on June 11, 2009

madcaptenor, you are of course correct that anything is possible and a hotel owner certainly could forbid food deliveries. However, the fact remains that people have food delivered to hotel rooms all the time. It's an extremely common practice. The surprise on the part of the answerers comes not from thinking that the answer is obvious, but rather from your apparent unfamiliarity with both the hotel and restaurant industries.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:11 PM on June 11, 2009

I delivered pizza one summer, and in my experience it depends on the hotel. Most will allow it, whether or not the hotel has a restaurant, but a few (always with restaurants of their own) won't.
posted by dilettante at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2009

i've stayed at places where only certain places would deliver. like, the motel had contract with dominoes and papa johns felt it was too much hassle because the owner would give him shit. but that was motel 6 like places, not places with room service.
posted by nadawi at 1:59 PM on June 11, 2009

I wouldn't do it at a really high end hotel with a swanky restaurant. But mid-range and budget hotels do indeed often have a bunch of takeout menus.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:02 PM on June 11, 2009

Absolutely. In fact, when I worked at a hotel in Columbus, OH there was even a delivery service called Cafe Courier that would go to any restaurant, pick up your food, and bring it to you - even if the restaurant didn't have delivery (ie- Chili's, PF Changs etc).

I think that unless you're staying on a restricted floor (some fancy hotels have restricted levels for VIP rooms and suites), you should be fine. Worst case scenario: the delivery driver can always bring your stuff to the front desk/lobby and meet you down there.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 2:04 PM on June 11, 2009

I'd agree with Cunninglinguist that this would be frowned upon at higher end Hotels. I think that the Hyatt I worked at had an official policy against outside deliveries, so I don't think the front desk or concierge would help a guest order, but they didn't stop delivery men from coming in either.
posted by saffry at 3:36 PM on June 11, 2009

Although I'm sure the commenters above are correct that a few hotels have a rule against it, the tone of your question suggests it would be actively frowned on, as if this might be considered really naughty behavior. Don't worry about that. If you have any question about it, just ask the front-desk clerk. No one who works in a hotel could reasonably think they're entitled to have the guests dine at the hotel's own restaurant ... especially if it's high-end. Can I guarantee you that no hotel employee you ever interact with will get offended? Of course not, but if they do act offended, they're not being very good hotel clerks! It's their #1 responsibility to see to it that the guests are comfortable. That's what you're paying them for.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:53 PM on June 11, 2009

Let me add that while restaurant delivery outside the US, in my experience, is less common, I even did this at a hotel in Cancun (ordered pizza, from Dominos, I think). This was about 15+ years ago.

The one thing you almost certainly can't do (though it doesn't sound like you're asking about this) would be to have an event in a hotel conference room, ballroom or the like and have an outside company bring food in. Almost any hotel with such facilities will require that you use their own catering services.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:04 PM on June 11, 2009

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