Why Is Room Service So Ridiculously Expensive?

Mar 26, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Quora.com is a question-and-answer site where content is written and edited by its community of users. Occasionally we syndicate content from the site if we think it will interest TPG readers. This article originally appeared on Quora.com in response to the question, Why Is Room Service So Ridiculously Expensive? and was written by David Trustrum, who has more than 20 years of experience in hotels, restaurants, bars and banqueting.

In my experience, which is in mid-market hotels in the UK, room service is so expensive for several reasons, the most important of which, as far as I am concerned, is to discourage people from having it.

Why do we wish to discourage room service? Because providing room service is a monumental pain in the backside.

  • Management hates room service. If a guest wishes for room service outside normal restaurant hours, that is immediately two extra members of staff we have to pay for, one to cook it and one to serve it. Plus, these staff need to be on standby, and therefore paid, whether there are any orders or not, just in case one should come in. With staff costs what they are, (often 70% of hotel costs) and the fact that room service is nowhere near as common in the UK as it is in the US, this is an expense most hotels here just can’t afford. Room service therefore is often only available during the normal opening hours of the restaurant.
  • Restaurant managers hate room service. Each room service order takes a member of staff off the restaurant floor for at least 15 minutes. As most people tend to eat within the same short time-frame (usually between 6:00pm and 8:00pm) you can often get several room service orders at a time. And each one takes a member of staff away from the restaurant. If the order is for more than one course, it can tie a waiter up for an hour. If it is for more than one person, it can tie up two or three waiters. This can drastically affect the restaurant service. The restaurant is normally short staffed to start with, and you only dare send your most reliable staff off on the trek, as anyone else will grab the opportunity for a break and be gone for hours.
  • Staff hate room service. As this is the UK, they rarely receive a tip for delivering it — gratuity is almost non-existent in the UK, and the room service charge does not go to the member of staff — and when they do it, is only a couple of pounds. This is not worth the long and awkward trek down corridors, with a precariously laden tray, up stairs and through fire doors. And even if you are lucky enough to have a recently built hotel corridor that is nice and level, have you tried to get a trolley through a fire door? It is also inevitable that someone ordering room service will be in the room farthest from the kitchen.
  • Chefs hate room service, as they know that by the time the staff member has transported their meticulously presented creation down said corridors, it will be all over the plate — and probably the tray — and if not stone cold, then certainly not as hot as it should be. Plus, the food hygiene considerations are worrying, at least.
  • Housekeeping hate room service. Left over food smells. Trays block up trolleys and corridors, and what a red wine jus can do to a nice white bedspread is best not considered.

All in all, room service is expensive because we do not want you to have it. And why the hell would you want to eat a cold meal in your little hotel bedroom anyway?

Image courtesy of Alija via Getty Images. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.