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10 Things You Probably Shouldn’t Order from Hotel Room Service

Updated: Mar. 14, 2023

Because not every food can survive under a vented lid.

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Traveling: Room service delivered in a hotel suite.
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Room service

You’ve seen characters in movies order room service and then have a large breakfast in bed, with cups of coffee, eggs, and even a newspaper. But should you do that in real life? From waffles to fried foods, here are a few foods you might think twice about ordering beforehand since what you see in the movies isn’t always what you see in real life. Something else to remember? There are a lot of changes happening in the travel and hospitality industry due to COVID-19, so be aware of these 12 things to consider before booking a hotel again.

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Cropped Image Of Waiter Holding Breakfast In Bedroom
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Food safety

If you’re concerned about ordering food from a hotel’s room service, you needn’t be alarmed. It’s generally safe to order food. “The risk of transmitting or catching coronavirus from food or from the food packaging itself is very low,” Lauri Wright, PhD, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Chair of the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics at the University of North Florida, tells Reader’s Digest. Learn whether a hotel or an Airbnb is safer after your state eases up on lockdown restrictions.

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Cropped Image Of Person Holding Sushi At Table
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If you’re thinking about having raw fish delivered to your hotel room, you might want to reconsider. “I would also avoid raw or undercooked foods such as sushi; not because of risk of coronavirus, but because of the risk of foodborne illness,” says Wright. Here’s why you also shouldn’t touch the sushi at all-you-can-eat buffets.

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Full frame view of a room service food delivery cart
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Utensils and serving trays

You might not have thought about using utensils and serving trays before the COVID-19 pandemic, but now it might give you second thoughts. However, generally, it’s still safe to use. “The foodservice staff sanitizes utensils and serving trays which would kill any virus,” says Wright. “Again, the risk of transmitting or catching coronavirus from the food packaging is very low but is you are still worried, you can request disposable utensils and plates.” To help the environment as you’re traveling, you could also consider bringing your own reusable water bottle or purchase your very own bamboo cutlery set, perfect for travel or any place you may not want to touch other items—even disposable ones.

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Delicious omelette served for breakfast
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Scrambled eggs

Everyone heading out on a luxurious vacation fantasizes about breakfast in bed. But when it comes down to it, breakfast foods just don’t hold up too well under room-service lids. Scrambled eggs, for example, begin to lose heat and taste almost as soon as they leave the pan. That means when they get to you, they’re “cold and gluey,” says Jonathan Knudsen, an executive at JK Hospitality in New York. Got a trip coming up? Memorize the 10 red flags of a bad hotel.

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morning Breakfast or brunch in the restaurant. table with drinks and food. women's hands cut Viennese waffles with a knife and fork. selective focus
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This crispy breakfast pastry is another food you’ll want to avoid calling in. Once you put a pile of waffles under a room-service lid, they’ll begin to get soggy because of the steam. Instead, order pancakes or French toast, which retain heat better and don’t get as noticeably limp.

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Close-Up Of Meat In Plate
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Fried foods

Obviously, fried foods don’t hold up too well under steamy room-service plates—unless you like your fries soggy, that is. As a rule of thumb, Knudsen says to avoid foods like calamari, fried chicken, and quesadillas. The exception to the rule? Buffalo chicken. “Although fried, they cannot be overcooked,” says Knudsen. “Plus, the hot tossed sauce keeps them warmer longer.” One way to make sure your hotel’s food is top of the line? Start your hotel search with the best hotel in every state, according to travelers.

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Mixed vegetables cauliflower, broccoli and carrots on white plate on wooden background
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Steamed veggies

A side dish of steamed veggies might seem like the perfect way to get your greens in while on vacation. Unfortunately, “items like broccoli, and even squash and carrots sweat under a hospitality cover and become nothing more than flat colors on a plate by the time they reach a guest room,” Kelly Merritt, author of The Everything Family Guide to Budget Travel, told Southern Living. Instead, try the soup of the day, says Knudsen.

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Hamburger and French fries
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Our experts had mixed reviews on room-service burgers. On the one hand, they say the classic food is a hard-to-ruin standby that people should feel comfortable ordering. Others, however, say the time it takes the burger to travel from the kitchen to your room could result in it becoming overcooked—and that’s before you take into account the wilted lettuce and the soggy fries. Instead, order the chicken or turkey club with a fruit salad or side salad in place of the fries. Before even booking your hotel though, know the 15 things you should never do in a hotel room.

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Pizza slices, Shrimp in sauce and french fries on a white table close-up
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Pizza is another food you might think you’d be safe ordering. But unless your hotel has an Italian restaurant on-site, you might want to avoid it. Otherwise, “there is a good chance that it will be previously frozen or a bit tired from sitting under a heat lamp,” Gian Nicola Colucci, executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, told Southern Living. If you’re looking for unexpected places to try pizza, here’s the reason why Costco’s pizza is so good.

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Penne arrabbiata and parmesan
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A pasta craving is hard to ignore—especially if you’re longing for the comforts of home. Still, it might not be the best option. “By the time it gets from the kitchen to the room it’s either sticky or cold or the sauce has totally fallen apart. Good pasta is meant to be enjoyed immediately and if you order from room service you’re going to be paying a lot for a really subpar product,” Bradford Phillips, executive chef at Troquet River North in the Hotel Felix in Chicago, told BravoTV. Here’s why chefs never order these 7 foods in restaurants.

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Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with Cherry Topping
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Now that you’ve had your dinner (a club sandwich or a soup and salad, we hope), it’s time for dessert. Unfortunately, if you have high hopes for that room-service cheesecake, you’ll probably be disappointed. Unless your hotel has a bakery or pastry chef on the property, it’s likely you’ll be served something that’s either been sitting out for a while, or is dry, stale and overly sweet. Next, learn the 21 secrets hotels don’t want you to know.


  • Lauri Wright, PhD, RDN, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Chair of the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics at the University of North Florida
  • Jonathan Knudsen, an executive at JK Hospitality in New York
  • Southern Living, 5 Things You Should Not Order from Room Service
  • Bradford Phillips, executive chef at Troquet River North in the Hotel Felix in Chicago, BravoTV