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April 27th, 2007

Hotel Food

My friend Paco recently wrote an entry about the exorbitant food charges at hotels. We all know the mini-bar is expensive, but seeing how a 50 cent soda goes for $3.13 from the mini-bar and a glass of orange juice costs you $10 (!) via room service really makes me wonder how anyone can justify these costs. I mean, really, even if you’re working for a big corporation and expensing everything, how can you not feel guilty about that?

My favorite bit comes during his description of his dinner at the in-house restaurant, though:

I decide to order a salad that says something about greens over “crisp, shaved potatoes.” I get some greens (spinach, arugula, etc.) with a nice vinaigrette, and Lays potato chips sprinkled in. I swear I am not making this up. There was no difference between these potato chips and Lays (or any similar brand) of basic potato chips. For $9.00 I get spinach and potato chips with oil and vinegar.

My wife used to waitress at a Holiday Inn restaurant and they actually had really good food (we had our rehearsal dinner there before our wedding). The one Paco went to sounds like the dozens of other crappy hotel restaurants we’ve all seen in Anytown, USA. But, really, potato chips on a salad? Yikes.

At least they didn’t cut corners by using oil and vinegar chips.

Posted in Consumer Commentary, Food and Beverage

Paul April 27, 2007, 2:52 pm

That’s so fubar.

There’s a bottle of Fiji water in my hotel room – a 32 ouncer – that I believe costs $5 or so. But I can go to Target and get a 6-pack of .5 liter bottles for about the same price.

Also, welcome to Hotel Week on the Ping!

Dave April 27, 2007, 6:49 pm

When I went on a cruise this past Jaunary, they also had a bottle of wanter and cans of soda in the room. It was $5 for the water and $2 per soda. I didnt use either one. I went and got FREE Iced Tea and Coffee and regular water from the fountain drink machine.

Terry M. April 28, 2007, 1:49 am

In Mexico you can get dinner through room service at a downtown 4 star hotel for less than $20 for two people including drinks and tip, and the food is literally ten times better than 99% of the Mexican restuarants in the United States.

Last year my Mexican girlfriend & I stayed at a fancy hotel in San Diego (barely 10 miles, if that, from the border) and they charged us $60 plus tip for a crappy American breakfast. It was on the tab of the big corporation I work for, so I didn’t care. But south of the border the best breakfast you can get (better than anything available in the United States) costs $3 only if you decide to splurge.

My conclusion: the United States sucks

The mini-bar is a scam but good for the first night or two you stay in a particular country/city, until you find the seediest convenience stores to stock up on cheapest local beer by the case. And as long as the company is picking up the tab.

Merle April 29, 2007, 12:18 am

Terry: the mini-bar isn’t a good deal even if it’s on the corporate dime, because whatever money of theirs is spent can’t go towards raises or bonuses. Better to walk around the block and find a convenience store. I’ve yet to stay in a hotel where I couldn’t find one that very first evening.

And remember not to buy that $10 sign.

jk April 30, 2007, 1:32 am

My brother and family are visiting PSU this weekend and in their hotel room are two bottles of Aquafina water, relatively small, for $4 a piece! How thirsty would you have to be to drink them? What with running water and glasses in the bathroom and all…

The cool Holiday Inn Express that I mentioned before had a FREE bottle of water in the room and some free snacks…nice.

Dave Walls January 4, 2010, 11:11 am

I could spend hours writing about this after my most recent job, where I traveled extensively. With a daily expense account for food, but long days, sometimes I couldn’t get anything to eat until late at night. At that point, if traveling in an unfamiliar city, room service was my only option. I’ll give the highlights:

Most ridiculously overpriced item I paid for: $33 for a cheeseburger with a few french fries at the Conrad Hotel in Chicago. It was 1am, I finished 18 hours of solid work, and I had a 6a flight. I was hungry. (Keep in mind, the $33 was the total after tip and the “delivery charge”.) At least it was a good burger.

Best deal: Hilton Garden Inn somewhere in Houston. Really good food from in-house restaurant. Salad, Roasted Chicken, drink, dessert for $21..including tip!

Worst Food: Holiday Inn in Frederick, MD. I chose to drive from Philly to Frederick (2.5 hours) instead of staying the night before a meeting. Wise decision. The client I worked for had catering done. I was the only one not to eat the wraps and other “food”. As a result, I was the only one not to get incredibly sick by the end of the day. The lettuce on some wraps was black. Not brown…black.

Overall, I never really tried to run up a bill. That said, if my work day went 16 hours, and I didn’t feel up to walking around a strange city at night, I didn’t hesitate.

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