To hear Westerners talk about it, room service is dead, says the South China Morning Post. Gordon Ramsay closed the doors to his restaurant at The Connaught in London when asked to feed guests in their suites. Managers everywhere complain there is no money to be made on the service. But despite all that, Asian boutique and luxury hotel properties are revitalizing the age-old amenity with some new – and old – tricks.
First off, top resorts have renamed room service to “in-room dining,” amping up its elegant appeal. Some offer minibars or complimentary noshes in their lobbies (like W hotels, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, and Naumi Liora in Singapore), whetting the appetites of guests for more.
Next come creative menus. The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong offers the best parts of their hotel restaurant to travelers without the hassle. The staff sets an in-room specific menu that includes an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert from both its two-Michelin-star Tin Lung Heen and Tosca restaurants. For something simpler, two set of Cantonese menus are also available, as well as an a la carte Italian offering. These are guaranteed within 35 minutes.
In the Grand Tower wing of the Pudong Shangri-La, Shanghai, personalized in-room dining is offered 24 hours a day. “Guests arrive at all hours, and are often on different time zones, so they want to eat – and not just a hamburger,” a hotel spokesperson said. She added, “”A 10-course kaiseki-ryori menu at 4am? Not a problem.”
Some smaller island destinations have also put grand in-room dining options into effect. The Alila Villas Soori in Bali states their intention flat-out. The in-villa menu reads, “If you don’t see anything here to suit your taste, don’t worry. Simply call our In Villa Dining Team and request anything you desire.” Most visitors, however, find something appetizing from the kitchen of Alila Soori’s Indonesian restaurant, Cotta. In particular, the Bebek Rice Harvest Menu is getting a lot of attention for its focus on local ingredients: rice, ducks, and banana leaves are simmered to perfection.
The Peninsula in Manila offers “Naturally Peninsula” cuisine in cooperation with the Philippines health resort, The Farm at San Benito. The Wellness menu they have concocted feature dishes with organic ingredients that are heavy on herbs and spices. It abstains from meat, dairy, wheat, sugar, and processed foods. There’s still plenty of room for decadence — the dessert options include fruit jerky and a chocolate chilli pie.
Additionally, at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai, Thailand, guests have a personal chef to grill their choices at the villa’s outdoor kitchen. The Four Seasons Hotel Singapore has even carved out an exclusive Couples Floor that is child-free, featuring do-not-disturb housekeeping that doesn’t come knocking until noon. Here, guests can order from the Bath Butler menu and get heavenly soaking salts paired with a decadent snack.
The world has long known you are what you eat, but now Asian luxury hotels are saying who you are depends on how you eat it, too.
photo credit: joshua rappeneker