Q: I think room service is nice, of course, but it's so expensive. My niece, who owns her own business and is trying hard to keep expenses down, recently told me she always picks up takeout Chinese food or sends out for pizza when she's staying in a hotel on business. As she puts it, she has to eat, but she doesn't have to eat expensively. I have to admit, I never thought of that. Is it tacky to order from a restaurant or pizza shop if your hotel has room service? And if you do, will they bring the food right to your room, or do you have to meet the delivery guy in the lobby?
A: Skipping room service in favor of getting food delivered from a restaurant is a great way to save money on your travels. If your room has a refrigerator and microwave, you can even heat up the leftovers the next day and save the cost of a second meal. And no, it's not tacky at all. I would, however, ask you not to put your trash from this meal out in the hallway after you're done eating without calling the front desk to let them know they should pick it up. The people in the room across from you don't want the scent of a carton of uneaten General Tso's chicken wafting under their door all night long.
As for how the food will be delivered, that depends on your hotel. If your room is on an exterior corridor, the delivery driver will probably be able to bring it right to you. If your hotel has a traditional lobby, though, the front-desk clerk or hotel security might not let anyone except hotel guests go through to the rooms. In this case, either the driver or the front desk will call you and ask you to come pick up your food. Make sure you provide your cell phone number with your order so the driver can contact you directly if there are any problems.
Q: Can you give a shout-out to the Omni Bedford Springs in Bedford Springs, Pa.? I just returned from a dermatology conference there and was delighted to see a sign stating, "Shhh ... it's bedtime in Bedford!," as I stepped off the elevator each evening. This was a first for me. I wish other hotels did the same!
A: That sign is a great idea -- more hotels should have something like that to remind guests that they should keep their voices down after hours. Well done, Omni Bedford Springs!
Email travel-etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.