Guest Post by Leigh Caldwell of ThemeParkMom.
It’s a fact of life: We’ve gotta eat.
But hotels are notorious for jacking up the price of everything from bottled water to a bowl of popcorn. Heck, the cans of Coke in the soda machine at the end of the hallway cost $2.75.
And the restaurants are no better.
I remember a particularly horrible business trip to Manhattan in the Dog Days of Summer. It was 100 degrees outside. I was 30 weeks pregnant, and just stepping outside of the confines of the convention hotel caused my ankles to instantly swell and hang over my shoes like bobby socks with stretched out elastic. Trust me. It was both extremely attractive and extremely comfortable.
I ate the hotel’s mediocre $18.95 cheeseburger nearly every night, rather than face the prospect of walking outdoors. $18.95.
For. A. Cheeseburger.
Many trips and major cuts to my expense account later, I’ve come up with some strategies for saving money when you need to eat in a hotel.
5 Ways To Save Money On Meals At Hotels
1. Don’t overlook the coffee stand. Many of them offer cheese and fruit plates that will fill you up and cost way less than a trip into the dining room. Some coffee counters even offer hot sandwiches. I recently ate a hot spinach and feta croissant for dinner at the Hotel Indigo Sarasota. It was obviously aimed at the grab n’ go breakfast crowd, but they didn’t mind me ordering it at 6:30 p.m. And it cost just $5.25.
2. Speaking of breakfast, if you do venture into the hotel dining room at night, there’s no harm in asking if you can order an omelet. (And we’re not talking about the $1,000 caviar omelet offered at the Le Parker Meridien.) Your basic cheese or veggie omelet will almost certainly cost less than that $18.95 chicken caesar salad you were considering. And it will probably have less fat and calories than the salad, too.
3. Ask about supermarkets nearby. If you’re staying in a hotel near a city’s center, chances are there’s a Whole Foods Market , The Fresh Market or similar gourmet grocer nearby. These places are a boon for travelers because of the wide selection of prepared foods. You can find everything from sushi to soup to Stromboli, and you can pick up something to save for breakfast while you’re there, too.
4. Remember that “delivery” doesn’t have to mean “room service.” LaBite.com delivers rotisserie chicken from Koo Koo Roo or a Thai Crunch Salad from California Pizza Kitchen to hundreds of hotels in the Los Angeles area. A quick Web search will yield similar delivery services in almost any city.
5. If you’ve had a long day and room service is the only thing you can handle, check out the children’s menu. Chances are the portions will be plenty, and the price will be better than those dinner entrees on the next page. Plus you won’t be stuck choosing between chicken fingers and cheeseburgers because hotel children’s menus are evolving. At the Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C., you could order chicken kebabs on a bed of jasmine rice or a mini Maryland crab cake burger with mixed greens off the children’s room service menu.
Photo courtesy of ILoveButter on FlickR.