Room service

Room service or in-room dining is a hotel service enabling guests to choose items of food and drink for delivery to their hotel room for consumption. Room service is organized as a subdivision within the food and beverage department of high-end hotel and resort properties. It is uncommon for room service to be offered in hotels that are not high-end, or in motels. Room service may also be provided for guests on cruise ships.[1] Room service may be provided on a 24-hour basis or limited to late night hours only. Due to the cost of customized orders and delivery of room service, prices charged to the patron are typically much higher than in the hotel's restaurant or tuck shop, and a gratuity is expected.

Room service with empanadas at Boon Hotel + Spa in Guerneville, California.


The Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York — already a symbol of fame and distinction from its construction during the late 19th century[2] — is credited as being the first modern hotel to offer room service. The Waldorf was originally constructed on 5th Ave., but was rebuilt and re-opened in 1931 at 301 Park Ave. In addition to being the first hotel to introduce room service, this new Waldorf Astoria also introduced other advancements in the industry such as restaurant reservations and full electrical wiring.[3] With a telephone in every room and first-class room service, the hotel was designed specifically to cater to the needs of the socially prominent "wealthy upper crust" of New York and distinguished foreign visitors to the city.

Nowadays, room service is considered a necessity for any high-end hotel and is commonly found at hotels worldwide. Unique room service offerings include: singer-songwriters with cocktails and appetizers at the Thompson Nashville in Tennessee, s'mores and champagne at the Carneros Resort & Spa in Napa Valley, and straight-to-room vinyl record deliveries at the Moxy East Village in New York.[4]

To address clinical issues and reduce mortality rates related to nutritional issues, the Mater Private Hospital Brisbane in Australia, became the first to offer room service in a hospital setting in 2013, providing more appropriate nutrition at an affordable price point.[5] Though as technology advances, hotel customer services continue to evolve, allowing hotels to provide all customers room service and even including more options.[6]


Organizations tend to have their own standards for room service, as there are no universally held best practices as they differ from business to business and the best practice depends on the guest's perspective, but generally it can be considered the guest's ability to order a meal, the meal being prepared and be served the product in the privacy of their own room as to maximize the customers comfort.[7][8]


A variety of hotel staff categories work on room service.

Hotel managementEdit

The role of hotel management in regards to room service is to ensure guest satisfaction and to address any complaints and queries that may arise.[9][10] Their responsibilities also include recruiting, training and supervising staff, they also manage the budget to maintain financial records, planning maintenance, events and the bookings for rooms, promotions and marketing.[11]

Restaurant managerEdit

In addition to making guests feel welcome and providing an enjoyable dining experience, restaurant managers are responsible for processing room service orders accurately and efficiently and ensuring compliance of the relevant health and safety regulations.[12] The restaurant manager is responsible for recruiting, training, supervising staff, managing budgets, menu planning, greeting customer and handling the customers complaints and inquires.[13]


Waiters and waitresses (also known as "servers") are responsible for setting up the hotel restaurant, delivering food to rooms, and making sure that guests have everything they need.[14] Their responsibilities often include greeting and escorting customers, presenting, understanding specials, the information on the menu, preparation of tables, utensils and glasses and communicating between the kitchen staff.[15][unreliable source?]

Executive chefEdit

Executive chefs also known as head chef are responsible for overseeing the operations that occur in the kitchen. They monitor and maintain the quality of all dishes that are served to customers, create menus, invent new dishes, and supervise the kitchen staff. Their responsibilities tend to be administrative in nature.[12] The executive chef is mostly coordinating the other cooks as well as inspecting the kitchen equipment for sanitary reasons to keep with sanitation policies, they can also hire and train, maintaining food ingredient stocks.[16]

Kitchen staffEdit

Room service trays stacked in the kitchen, waiting for delivery.

The kitchen staff is responsible for preparing the food according to service standards and work procedures. They assist chefs as they cook, evaluate the quality of ingredients, and place orders with suppliers. In addition, they schedule the delivery of food or beverages and supervise kitchen production as part of their duties.[9] Kitchen staff usually have a large range of jobs within the fast-paced kitchen, though they are mostly used to assist head cooks and other staff members with the meal preparation. Basic food preparation includes organizing the kitchen and ingredient preparation to make cooking and presenting the meal as efficient as possible, though it also includes washing, cutting and peeling. They also properly store the ingredients in the kitchen, storeroom and cold storage even moving supplies if necessary, proper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment, dishes, floors, counter-tops and cutting boards to maintain sanitation and health standards.[17]

Housekeeping managerEdit

The housekeeping manager, similar to other manager roles, is responsible for planning, organizing and developing the housekeeping departments. They oversee staffing, training of the staff and scheduling. They manage daily activities such as the cleaning, seating areas, washroom, restaurants, suites and all public areas, guaranteeing customer satisfaction through effective planning and organization of team members, supervision of housekeeping and grounds keeping staff, maintaining supplies, equipment and budget, recruiting and training staff and even conducting inspections of public areas.[18]

Housekeeping supervisorEdit

A housekeeping supervisor role is to oversee the activities of the staff that clean the facilities to make sure of the sanitation, orderly and appeal of the rooms is up to high standard in the hotel but can also include other establishments such as hospitals and anything in a similar regard. they may also assist in the duties of other staff members and inspect the work, they also address the complaints and inquires about the housekeeping service as well as recruit and train new staff members.[19]

Continental breakfast attendantEdit

The continental breakfast attendant's main role is to provide a hot and cold breakfast buffet service throughout the morning. A continental breakfast usually includes coffee, juice, jam, fruit, and baked goods such as bread and pastries, items chosen because they are shelf-stable, and can be served in portion sizes that are appropriate for large groups of people. The attendant cleans the serving area during the breakfast, refills empty serving dishes or jugs and supplies (e.g., napkins), ensures equipment such as toasters and coffeemakers are functioning well, and answers patron questions. After breakfast, the attendant cleans and prepares the area for the next morning. The attendant may also prepare ingredients, refill beverage dispensers, clean and replenish utensils. Attendants may even do duties similar to a waiter for customers that have special needs. Attendants may have to do paperwork or record-keeping.[20]

Food runnerEdit

They can serve multiple roles, but the main function is the food runner acts as the "middle man" between the customer and the kitchen staff, both delivering food to the correct table as quick as possible, assisting staff with the priority of orders and addressing any customer issue that suddenly arises. Generally any business that serves food to customers have food runners such as bars and coffee shops and even room service, being able to switch between front and back of the house. Food runner's duties are to deliver food, identifying customers questions and complaints and addressing those appropriately, greeting guests, providing and explaining the menu, inspecting the food, clearing and cleaning tables.[21]

Hotel securityEdit

Hotel security monitor the security system in the restaurant and communal areas of the hotel. They establish and maintain emergency procedures, and identify and implement risk management programs on order to be prepared for an unlikely emergency situation such as food poisoning.[9]

Advantages and disadvantagesEdit

Trump Hotel dinner room service


  • Guest can eat and drink within their own private room in the hotel.
  • Guests can order meals whenever they want.
  • Room service can reduce food wastage.[22]
  • Convenience for guests with children and babies.
  • Promotes safety, as guests are able to stay inside their hotel.


  • Food and drinks are much more expensive than average.
  • Hot food can become cold before delivery to the room.
  • The guest may be less likely to experience local food.
  • Guests cannot observe the food being prepared.
  • Room service menus are often limited so that items can be cooked at all times by cooks on different shifts with common skills.[22]

Hospital room serviceEdit

Some hospitals have started to provide room service for their patients' convenience.[23] Patients are able to order the food of their choice from a menu at a time that is suitable for them. Hospital staff may need to assist patients to ensure that they comply with their dietary restrictions. Visiting guests may order from the room service for a fee.[citation needed]

Advantages of room service in hospitalEdit

  • Improved patient satisfaction.[citation needed]
  • Additional meal trays and unwanted food plates is reduced.
  • Improved meal accuracy.[citation needed]
  • The opportunity for increased revenue by serving patients' family and visitors.
  • Food service workers may enjoy more contact with patients, boosting their morale.[citation needed]
  • Fresher food is provided with better quality and temperature.[citation needed]
  • Hospital can play a role in providing meals for those with food insecurity, and reduce hunger.[24]


  1. ^ "Star Princess". Shipdetective. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  2. ^ McKenzie, Kristen (24 January 2014). "8 hotels that changed the industry". CNN Travel. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  3. ^ Staff, Hipmunk (12 July 2015). "The History of Room Service (and some great spots to find it)". TAILWIND. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Departures | Life From Unexpected Perspectives". Departures. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  5. ^ Suboleski, Stanley. "Room Service Principles and Practices". Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  6. ^ Jacobs, Greg. "Hotel Lovers See The History of Room Service". Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  7. ^ Suboleski, Stanley. "Room Service Principles and Practices".
  8. ^ Suboleski, Stanley (1 December 2012). "Room Service Principles and Practices: An Exploratory Study".
  9. ^ a b c Morse, Carolyn (21 April 2000). "Hospitality: Hotel Management" (PDF). ACAP.
  10. ^ "Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management". University of Nevada. 16 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Hotel manager: job description". Target jobs.
  12. ^ a b "Types of Hospitality Jobs – Oxbridge Academy". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Restaurant manager: job description". Target jobs.
  14. ^ "Tasks List". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Waiter or Waitress job description". workable. 17 July 2013.
  16. ^ "What Does an Executive Chef Do?". Best Hospitality Degrees.
  17. ^ "Kitchen Staff Job Description". JobHero.
  18. ^ "Job Description Housekeeping Manager" (PDF). Coyotes.
  19. ^ "Housekeeping Supervisor". Career Planner.
  20. ^ Gerlach, Jenna (31 December 2018). "Breakfast Attendant Job Description". Career Trend.
  21. ^ "Food Runner Job Description". Job Hero.
  22. ^ a b "Room Service". Slide Share. 17 January 2015.
  23. ^ "Patient Food Service".
  24. ^[bare URL PDF]