Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guys and Dolls and Room Service

DEBORAH CROMBIE: (Tales from the Road, Part 2) I'm now approaching four and a half weeks on book tour for TO DWELL IN DARKNESS, out of which I think I've had three days at home without either travel or a book event. This week I've succumbed to the dreaded travel cold--not surprising, I suppose, considering the number of airplanes flown on and hands shaken. Fortunately I've been tucked up in Annapolis, MD, the last few days with my friend Marcia Talley, doing events in the Baltimore/Annapolis area, so have at least had a little home comfort.

Over the last few weeks I've had some great get-togethers and dinners with friends, but I have to admit that after a long day of traveling or an evening event, there is absolutely nothing so appealing as curling up in jammies in a nice hotel room, watching TV, and getting room service.

Honestly, I will swoon for room service. And it doesn't have to be fancy--a good club sandwich or
bowl of soup (and maybe a glass of wine) will do just fine.

But it occurred to me that I never hear MEN talking about getting room service, so I started wondering if this was a gender thing.  Do women have a deeper desire to be pampered? (Maybe because they have non-stop chores at home?????) Or are women less comfortable eating out alone? (I don't mind that a bit, as it happens.)

That prompted me to start taking an unscientific poll, and so far have found only one woman who said she didn't like room service, and only one man who said he did.

Hmmm... So REDS and readers (dolls AND guys!) do you long to have someone bring you dinner--or breakfast--on a tray, then whisk it all away again? 

(It's the closest I'm ever likely to get to magic...)


  1. Room service does sound like a rather delectable treat. Considering that I find it great fun to do fancy breakfast-in-bed trays for the grandbabies whenever they happen to be here, I suspect I might enjoy the whole breakfast-on-a-tray-and-whisk-it-away experience myself . . . .

  2. When I used to travel constantly for work I loved getting room service because I'd usually had enough of people for the day. Probably also comes from being an introvert and only able to be "on" for so many hours of the day.

  3. I'd LOVE to be treated with room service, especially if it came with a white tablecloth, flowers, and wine chilling in a cooler. But I just had the thought: where would they put it? Shove my laptop off the desk? Or do they bring a table with them? I guess I don't stay in the kind of hotel with tables to spare.

    Have a good rest of your tour, Debs, and feel better!

  4. Larry, I think you've hit on something crucial--if a person is on the introverted side and was dealing with people all day, room service can be heavenly!

    Eating at home would be even better:). Hope you feel better soon Debs!!

  5. Sorry I let this slip through the cracks, but the winners of Jack Getze's book or ebook giveaway are: Joan Emerson, Barb Goffman, and Kaye Barley. Please contact Jack to claim your prize at jackgetze at gmail dot com.

  6. Room service is so terribly expensive that I never order it unless I'm traveling on someone else's nickel-- and even then, it never arrives when you want it. And now that most rooms have coffee makers in them, I don't need it. I can brew a pot of coffee when I first get up, or a pot of tea late at night, and if I have thrown some packets of instant oatmeal into my bag, i'm good to go even if I get hungry.

    I prefer the breakfast buffet in the morning, especially if I've been in the pool and want something substantial NOW. As for dinner in my room after a long day, I'd rather sleep.

    I do like having a welcoming gift of fruit and perhaps some cookies when I first check in, in case I get the munchies and so I can have something to eat on the plane when I fly out. And I love it when I can get free coffee and maybe apples in the lobby as I run through. Does Doubletree still give you those great cookies in your room with turndown service?

    I'm not much of a drinker, but if I'm on the road and don't have papers to go through or a speech to prepare (or sometimes even if I do), I like a scotch and water to unwind. You used to have to order that from room service but now you can get it from the minibar. (I used to travel with a flask, but you can't carry one on a plane anymore; maybe a minibar-size bottle will pass the TSA, but I haven't tried it)

    To tell the truth, I'm more interested in the hotel whirlpool and steam room than the minibar. And the pool. Swimming is my thing. And sleep. And you can rarely get Chinese food or sushi from room service, and what you can get is so depressing.

  7. Larry's right--I think a big part of it for me is not having to be "on," especially on book tour as the events take so much energy.

    And Ellen (except for one hotel that shall remain nameless) room service seems to be much improved these days and not quite so expensive. I would tip at least 15% in the hotel restaurant, and the extra $3 to me to have the meal delivered is well worth it.

  8. We don't travel a lot. When we do, if the day has been busy, room service can be a blessing. Not breakfast; like Ellen we do breakfast buffets for that. But dinner? Yeah, coming back, picking up the phone and saying "please bring me X" is really nice. I can eat in my jammies and take my shoes off.

    My husband feels the same way, but rarely orders room service if he's traveling with people. For him, if you've gotta eat alone, you might as well do it in your room.

  9. Room service all the way for me. That hotel room brew-it-yourself coffee is just this side of godawful, and I hate the powdered white stuff that is supposed to substitute for half and half. It doesn't. If alone, I prefer dinner in the room too, with the news on if it's sixish and a good book otherwise. You're right Deb. It is well worth the three bucks to dine without a bra. Oh wait, you didn't say exactly that did you.

  10. Remember the times when a paper arrived at your door in the mornings too? I asked for one recently and they looked at me like I was from another world.

  11. I guess I'm not big on eating dinner, at home or on the road, unless I have dinner companions and we can go to a decent restaurant. The thought of hotel food in general is depressing, and eating it alone in one's room is more so.

    Besides, except when I get in late because the plane was delayed, I find I've been eating all day, much more than I normally would. And if the plane was delayed and no one picked me up with food (see welcome bag or basket mentioned previously) in hand, chances are room service is closed by the time I get checked in.

    Speaking of checking in, why is the first room they give you always so awful, and the second one always so much better? Why don't they just skip to step two without creeping you out?

  12. Ah, room service. Heaven. And yes, I agree, I think a lot of that has to do with being an introvert and only capable of being "on" for a particular length of time before the quiet of one's own space is much needed.

  13. I say yes to room service, especially after a long day of travel or events. I've been lucky in getting great meals, great service--like being able to eat when I want, comfortably. No pressure to vacate your table--no harried servers, etc. I've seen plenty of men getting room service, too, in my travels--often later in the evening--again, no matter how late, you don't have to drag yourself out searching for something to eat.

  14. Oh, Debs -- I love room service for the same reasons you do! But my husband and son love it, too. I think it breaks down along introvert/extrovert lines than gender.

  15. Back when I traveled a couple months a year for business, especially if I had a roommate, room service breakfasts were my guilty pleasure. You order the night before, requesting a specific time, and it shows up, so you don't have to be completely made up, etc. It also greatly reduced the chances that I would dribble coffee on one of my three outfits I needed for the trip.

    Edith makes a good point: some hotels don't even offer this service. I've seen local carryout menus in the desk drawer, which is a poor substitute for a real meal, most of the time.

    I'm traveling alone soon, and I think I'll order room service breakfast once on this trip, if I can.

    One travel tip, speaking of in-room coffee service: they don't always clean those carafes in a way that you or I would. I'm very leery of them, unless they're the kind that makes a single cup. I once had a boss who made gazpacho in his coffee pot every day whenever he traveled, and I shudder to think how those pots got cleaned after he left. It's much better to get your coffee from the lobby pot, or at the buffet. My opinion.

    Hope you feel better soon, Debs. It's the worst, to feel crummy on the road.

  16. What Larry said - must be the introvert thing. When I used to travel regularly by the end of the day I needed some alone time. I didn't want to have dinner with the group, didn't want to eat alone in a restaurant, and didn't want to bring a bag of (yucky) fast food back to my room. With room service I got real silverware and a nice bowl of soup and salad with a book or movie was a good way to end the day.

    Hope you feel better, Debs. No matter how nice the hotel, being in one when you don't feel well is no fun.

  17. I've never had room service! We always stay in motels where you get the free (usually inedible) breakfast. Nine times out of ten, we pass on that and go get a real breakfast.

  18. I love having room service in a hotel or on a cruise ship and sitting in my jammies with a lovely view outside my window. My husband hates it. He claims the eggs are always cold and there is not enough room to spread out.

    Maybe women feel less comfortable alone in a hotel dining room, but also most of us adore the chance to be pampered.

  19. I've never had room service. Usually, I'm traveling with others. And I'm cheap. I've never stayed at a place that offers it. If I did, I probably would balk at the prices then head to the nearest fast food restaurant.

  20. Oh, my goodness. I am on book tour right now--and I adore room service. It is the BEST. A salad, with grilled chicken, and a glass of wine, and a cup of tea and one chocolate. LOVE IT so dearly..

    And if the hotel has bathrobes? Whoa.

    And yes, Larry, I think you are on to something..

  21. And yes, Rhys, Jonathan agrees. He doesn't like to eat in the room--the food is never right, he says, and its crowded, and nowhere to put anything.

    But if he;s with me--or me with him--then it's fun to go to a restaurant. SO maybe it;s a solitary thing!

  22. Yes, about the solitary thing! On my first solo business trip, in the mid-70's, I took myself to the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan. It was so uncomfortable, especially since they seated me smack in the middle of the room.

    Mark, when you travel for long periods of time you find yourself almost aching for vegetables and other healthy stuff. That's harder to find at fast food places, and the junk food quickly becomes old.

  23. Ditto on the "don't want to eat alone" thing. Nothing is more awkward (for me) than sitting by myself in the middle of a restaurant. Nobody else is probably looking at me or saying anything, but I feel like a giant spotlight is on me, "Look at the woman who can't find someone to have dinner with!"

  24. When my husband travels -- far less often than he used to -- he frequently orders room service. I'd never ordered it until I married him! We fondly remember, after a long day of trekking in Mexico, settling into our historic hotel above the town square, ordering margaritas, quesadillas, and extra guacamole from room service, and watching old movies on TV!

    And of course, not every hotel room has a nice table, so we coined the phrase "bed picnic"!

  25. Mary, they're not looking at you, they're checking their phone. Which, nowadays, you can do too if alone in a restaurant.

    I got used to eating alone in restaurants when I went through Europe alone as a teen. Sometimes I struck up a conversation with the people at the table next to me ("That looks interesting..." is a good starter. They'll cut you off if they don't want conversation, but sometimes they'll offer you a taste.) This is especially easy to do if the tables abut each other.

    In a trattoria, if the place wasn't busy, I'd sometimes strike up a conversation with the owners. And sometimes I just sit there with my notebook and get a handle on the day just past. Eating alone has never bothered me; I do it at home all the time.

    And, as I mentioned, I'm not big on three full meals per day. If I'm really hungry, I might order something sent up-- or pick something up, or go out. But, especially if I have a piece of fruit or some crackers and cheese, I really don't need an evening meal (too much time in Italy, I suppose. Italians don't eat a big evening meal.)

  26. Steve and I eat in with room service whenever we can. It seems less fussy, and we can relax. We enjoy a nice meal out and have our favorites. In the morning, though, and later in the evening? Eating in does it for us especially when we are traveling. <3

    Have a great book tour, Debs. I hope you get more restorative breaks soon. xo

  27. Like Larry, I'm an introvert and appreciate room service.
    I have no problem eating alone in a restaurant but some times, I need my space to " reenergize"...

    And Deborah, I LOVED To Dwell in Darkness.

  28. I have always thought of room service as a lovely treat for myself, but I haven't ordered it in quite a while. It was fun when the kids were young to order it, kind of like a little party. I think the reason I don't order it anymore is that lately I've traveled with a friend, and we like to go to breakfast together and are usually out from the hotel during the other meals. It might also have something to do with my being a lot more picky these days about my toast being warm.

    Joan, what a great idea to have breakfast-in-bed trays for the grandkids. I have taken pancakes to the grandgirls in bed, but I need a couple of trays to make it extra special. Thanks.

  29. Hi Deb~ Hope you're feeling better! I've ALWAYS enjoyed room service, even simple things like club sandwiches, BLT's, grilled cheese or burgers and fries, though it's been awhile!

    I think our favorites were when staying at the Bellagio in Las Vegas a few times, with a nice table set up in our room, with flowers in a vase next to the big windows with views of the fountains below. Lovely.

    I do most of the cooking every night at home and now while caregiving for my elderly parents, so YES, being pampered is a sweet luxury!

  30. Oh, Debs, I'm so sorry you came down with the Tour Bug. It can knock you for a loop. I love room service breakfasts. And after an event I'm too tired to go out for dinner with ANYONE. However, I find it mildly depressing to eat in my room in my pjs at 10 pm. Instead (true confessions...) I tend to eat my soup and glass of wine at the hotel bar. At the actual bar. Where I can talk to the bartender--or not. Watch the silent TV--or not. Check my phone for emails--or not. Weirdly, solitary business travelers at the hotel bar all take some kind of vow of silence. Nobody speaks to each other. We all talk through the bartender! After bowl of soup (to which french fries are normally added as a "side dish"...) and a glass of wine, I can toddle off to bed, get in my pajamas, and fill out my room service breakfast tag and hang it on the door knob. Enjoy your room service soup, tea, saltines, and sorbet--they will make the bug easier to bear! :)