Q: What if your concierge gives you a restaurant recommendation and it turns out to be awful? I asked the concierge at a hotel in Toronto to make a reservation for my wife and me at a nice Italian place for our anniversary. The concierge recommended a restaurant down the street from the hotel. The menu he showed us looked interesting, but when we got there, we were the only customers there. The waiter seemed annoyed when my wife asked questions about ingredients, and when we finally got our food, it was cold. It was a crummy experience (and not cheap, either). Do you have any advice to prevent this from happening again?
A: That stinks. I'm sorry you had such a bad anniversary dinner. Some concierges can be fantastic, providing great recommendations and advice, but others funnel guests to the same short list of mediocre restaurants, seemingly without regard for what the guests actually want. So I think, in general, it's safer to do your restaurant research yourself. Go online and read reviews of good restaurants at your destination. Then you can call and make your own reservation, circumventing the concierge entirely. If the restaurant says it has no tables available, that's when you ask for the concierge's help. Make a specific request, like, "We'd like a table for two at Restaurant X on Saturday night, ideally around 8 p.m." If the concierge can't make it happen and recommends a different restaurant instead, check it out online before agreeing to go there.
And finally, I'd tell the concierge (and/or the hotel's general manager) you had a bad experience. They ought to know you weren't happy with the restaurant recommendation.
Q: Is it OK to ask a hotel to remove the contents of the minibar? I'm on a diet and will be staying in a hotel for a conference soon. It's going to be a stressful trip and the last thing I need is a supply of candy, cookies and chips in my room.
A: Absolutely. Just call the hotel and say you'd like the minibar in your room to be emptied before your stay. That would be a safer approach than refusing the key to the minibar at check-in, because some of them have snacks on top as well as inside the minibar. Plus, if it's empty, you can store any healthful snacks and drinks you bring from home.
Q: My hotel had a sign that read, "Shirt, shoes or cover-up must be worn in lobby." What do you think that really means?
A: I think it means they need to pay more attention to how they word their signs -- this sounds like you can stroll through the lobby naked but for flip-flops! They probably mean, "Please wear shoes, and wear a shirt or cover-up over your bathing suit."
Email travel-etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published July 1, 2012 12:00 AM