So you are staying at a hotel but you are not quite feeling the hotel restaurant or room service.
Or perhaps you are over the continental breakfast and looking for some local cuisine to enjoy but you don’t want to get out.
You may be wondering if you can get a food delivery service like DoorDash, UberEats, or GrubHub to deliver to your hotel.
Well, I have some good news for you but also some important tips that you need to know about. Keep reading below to find out everything you need to consider when ordering food delivery services at a hotel.
Can you order DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub when staying at a hotel?
Yes, you can usually order DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub, and many other food delivery services when staying at a hotel.
But it’s the hotel’s policy on food deliveries you need to be worried about — not the food delivery service.
Be aware that a minority of hotels may have a “no outside food policy” and may not allow for food deliveries.
In addition, getting the food delivered straight to your hotel room may be challenging in certain settings so it’s often a good idea to hang out in the lobby whenever your driver is arriving and receive your food there.
There are lots of tips that will help you avoid frustrating scenarios and keep reading below for more of them!
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Tips for ordering food delivery services at hotels
Check for promo codes
It’s super common to be able to find promo codes that can save you money on your food delivery orders. These are those little codes like “EATS20” that you input just before you select the final order button in the app.
Whether you are using DoorDash, Uber Eats, or GrubHub, these can often be found throughout the year. Many times they are targeted so you have to use some trial and error to find a code that works but when they do work you can save a good amount of money.
Check for bonuses
In addition to promo codes, you can also sometimes earn extra points when getting food delivery services at hotels.
For example, Marriott and UberEats have a special partnership that allows you to earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on Uber Eats deliveries to hotels operating under Marriott brands in the United States with a minimum $25 basket.
Ask about the hotel rules
Hotels may not allow delivery drivers to deliver food to the hotel if they have a “no outside food policy.”
For example, the Hotel Zaza, a famous luxury brand in Houston, has a policy that states no food is permitted from outside sources.
They even reserve the right to confiscate the food, turn away the deliveries, and cancel your reservation! Kind of crazy.
I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels over the past few years and I’ve never experienced this, so I believe this would only happen in a small minority of hotels that are over protective about their on-site restaurants.
A more common restriction is that some hotels will not allow food delivery drivers to deliver food directly to your room’s door.
Instead, they may have a special lane that the delivery drivers can temporarily park in or a policy that requires them to deliver the food to the lobby area.
For example, there may be a designated table near the check-in desk where food deliveries are dropped off.
It seems that “fancier” hotels or those found in places like Disney World or Universal Studios may be more likely to have policies like this.
But I’ve also seen it at lower end properties, too.
This is more of a security thing and the properties are just trying to be protective of their guests which is understandable.
So before you place your order you may want to call the front desk and inquire about any food delivery policies that they have to save yourself some potential trouble later on.
Choose the right delivery method
If given the option, you want to choose the right delivery method for the particular hotel you’re staying in.
You want to consider the hotel rules for delivery but also other factors like what the parking situation is like.
If there is basically no parking outside the facility, and you’re asking the delivery driver to come to your room that could make things a little difficult.
A lot of delivery drivers can simply temporarily park in the portes-cochères (hotel driveway) and enter the hotel so this is not always a real issue.
But remember, some hotels get super busy during rush hour and there may not even be a place to pull in. I actually once experienced this firsthand in Washington DC.
Also, if the hotel requires some sort of key card to enter that will obviously make things very difficult for a food delivery driver.
That can be very common during after hours when ordering food at night.
Even though most hotels are easier to deliver to than apartments, most delivery drivers will probably prefer to meet you in the lobby or in the portes-cochères.
But since coronavirus, some of these delivery services are requiring contactless delivery.
This means that the ideal scenario might be for them to drop off the meal at the front desk and then alert you that the food has been delivered.
Leave notes/delivery instructions
Perhaps the most important thing to do when getting food delivered to your hotel is to provide clear notes or delivery instructions.
Here are some things you should try to always include:
Name of hotel
Don’t just rely on the map pin or default address.
Type out the name of the hotel so that the delivery driver has no doubt about the destination.
Some neighboring hotels may have similar names like “Holiday Inn” vs “Holiday Inn Express” so be sure to be specific as possible.
Watch out for dual-branded properties (hotels with two names) because those can be confusing to delivery drivers, too.
Putting your name in the notes can make things a little bit easier, especially if you were to mess up on the room number.
If you are expecting the delivery driver to bring the food directly to your room then be sure to include your room number.
It helps to include additional details like the floor and if the hotel is a little confusing to navigate perhaps add some guidance about which way to turn assuming you can make that clear.
Extra helpful will be if you can include directions like, “take a right out of the elevator and I’m at the end of the hallway.”
If you plan on meeting the driver outside or in the lobby you can let them know something like “I’m wearing a red shirt.”
Text when arriving
Ask the driver to text you whenever they are arriving so that if issues are encountered they can be easily fixed.
You’ll find that each food delivery service has slightly different options so just try to work with what you can in terms of providing specifics.
For example, take a look at the Uber Eats address information below. You could easily provide the room number, name of hotel, delivery option, instructions, and even a label like “hotel.”
Instructions could be: “will meet you outside front lobby door.”
DoorDash also allows you to input your drop off preferences so you can choose for them to hand it to you or leave it at your door. You can also provide drop off instructions such as asking the driver to ring the doorbell after they drop off your food or call or text you.
GrubHub also provides you with plenty of options for choosing the type of delivery. You can provide detailed notes and also choose how you would like your delivery such as at your front door, outside the building, in the lobby, etc.
Something worth mentioning is that these delivery options tend to focus on houses, apartments, or businesses.
While hotel deliveries are certainly happening all the time it’s just worth noticing that the menu options don’t exactly cater directly to hotels.
Set the tip at check out
Sometimes you have the option to choose your tip at the time of checkout versus choosing your tip at a later stage. Delivery drivers for services like GrubHub may be able to see the tip at the time they accept the order.
If you are asking them to deliver to your hotel room and they see that you are offering a sweet tip, they may be less willing to push back on delivering the food to your door.
You could also mention that you are a good tipper in the notes of your order to send the same signal. 😉
Related: Should You Tip Uber Eats Drivers?
Track your delivery
If possible, keep a close eye on the status of your delivery. Make note of the time the delivery begins so that you can have your own ETA.
If you are in a big hotel and up on a high floor, head to the elevators early because sometimes those can get slowed down, especially if some are out of order.
When ordering something that could melt or get ruined by temperature be vigilant.
I’ve had a driver deliver something to my room before and not finalize the order or notify me that it had been delivered. So it just sat there for a good 15 to 20 minutes until it was basically ruined.
Simply report that there is a problem with your order if this ever happens and you may be able to get refunded.
Something else to think about is that a lot of times restaurants that are partnered with food delivery services are located just next door to your hotel.
Don’t get caught up in thinking you have to use a food delivery service when you could just walk or drive a few minutes over to a nearby restaurant and potentially save on delivery fees.
In concentrated urban cities like New York City and San Francisco this is usually pretty easy to do. But you can also do this in pretty much any downtown area of a major city like Houston, Chicago, etc.
Be prepared for lazy or concerned delivery drivers
Sometimes you put all the effort needed into creating the perfect delivery notes and instructions.
You will provide the hotel name, room number, and clear instructions that ask a delivery driver to place the food at your door and then text you to alert you that the food has been delivered.
You’ll be relaxing in your hotel bed, possibly in your underwear, only to get a call or text from the delivery driver to meet them outside….
This can be highly frustrating and you can handle it in one of two ways.
You can insist that they come and deliver to your room or you can go down and accommodate their request.
Sometimes reiterating a special need can incentivize the driver to come up to the room. For example, maybe you are traveling with a baby or a pet and you do not want to leave them in the hotel room alone.
If a driver can see your notes (to deliver to a hotel room) and knowingly disregards them then that is on them. They are the source of friction and they should have just declined the drop off.
In that case you may want to insist they deliver to the room or consider lowering the tip.
But if they don’t see your notes until they start to deliver your food that is more problematic.
In that situation, it is more understandable that some delivery drivers could unexpectedly fear for their safety.
For example, a female delivery driver may be fearful of heading to a hotel room at night to deliver something.
Be extra clean
There’s a tendency that many of us, including myself, are guilty of sometimes.
And that’s being a messy eater in a hotel room.
Some people may just be a little bit messy when they eat in normal settings.
But eating in a hotel room, especially a small hotel room, often makes things worse because it’s not always very practical.
You can resort to some “hacks” like using the iron board as a table and those can work sometimes.
But if you don’t have a table or desk or any other flat surface in your room, you might just eat in bed.
Try to avoid this or just be really careful because spilled food can potentially ruin bedding.
The same obviously applies to room service but a lot of times room service comes with trays or a little wheel-in table, so it’s not always an issue.
It is definitely possible to have a food delivery service deliver your food to your hotel and even to your hotel room.
The key for a successful delivery is to provide as much detail to the driver as you possibly can so that the delivery method is crystal clear. You also need to clear your request with the hotel first to make sure that you are not violating the hotel’s policy for food deliveries.
If you do all of that and can prepare yourself for a delivery driver who may still not follow the procedure, you’ll be prepared as you can for your hotel food delivery.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.