What is Room Service?

Room service works in similar ways to regular restaurant service, except room service orders are placed from the comfort of a guest room and the food delivery comes straight to the customers in-room. Room service originates from hotel room, cabin, or other guest lodging. The servers also don’t generally check in on you repeatedly throughout the course of your meal. And you simply have to take your dishes out into the hallway when you’ve finished, leaving it for hotel staff.

Placing an Order

Some hotels provide guests with room service menus, and higher-end hotels serve chef’s specials and guest requests. The guest calls room service directly, or calls the front desk or concierge to be connected to room service. Some guests call the concierge for recommendations on what to order and what the house specialties are. Then a room service attendant, a desk attendant or other hotel staff member takes the meal order via phone.

Receiving Your Meal

These orders are delivered to the kitchen staff and the meal is prepared as per the guest’s specifications. The meals are then topped with lids or other covers and placed on special room service carts or trays to be delivered. The room service attendant prepares the cart, making sure the guest has everything she may need, and delivers the cart to the hotel room.<br> When the waiter arrives with the meal, the guest may dismiss him, or ask him to set up and serve the meal.

Paying the Bill and Tipping

The room service waiter will present the guest with an itemized bill for the order. Some establishments include a gratuity on the bill, while others leave the choice for gratuity up to the guest. If the bill has a gratuity included, it is not necessary to tip the waiter again, unless the guest feels he would like to. If the bill does not include a gratuity charge, it is customary service etiquette to reward the server for a job well done. Standard tip amounts are 15 to 20%. They already have you credit card on file, so you can order food without paying then, and the food and delivery services will be charged to your room number and you can pay at checkout.

Cleaning Up

After the meal is finished, and depending on the hotel, guests can either clean up their own meals, or call for a hotel staff member to do so. Guests who elect to clean up themselves can place their room service trays and dishes on the delivery cart and place it in the hallway outside the door or in an out-of-the-way spot in the room. In some hotels, guests can call the room service attendant back to the room to clear the meal and remove the dishes. Other guests elect to leave the meal as-is and allow housekeeping to attend to it. When the guest checks out, the room should be billed for all charges not paid for in full at the time of ordering the meal.


The dining experience and types of room service differs throughout the hospitality industry and hotel room service and in-room dining will change based on where you’re staying. Some places don’t offer room service at all, like motels. If you’re a hotel guest that’s counting on room service, like some business travelers, be sure to check with hotel management before booking so you don’t end up eating dinner out of the mini bar!