Room service used dishes and glasses on cart in hallway
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Pilfering Food From a Used Room Service Tray In a Hotel Hallway?

W hen I saw this discussion on FlyerTalk pertaining to what is the grossest thing you ate off of a room service cart in the hall, my first thought was how disgusting that was…

…and my second thought was that I needed to ask you if you are guilty of pilfering food from a used room service tray in the hallway of a hotel property.

Pilfering Food From a Used Room Service Tray In a Hotel Hallway?

FlyerTalk members admitted to taking everything from a basket of bread rolls to a slice of pizza; French fries off of a plate to an unpeeled orange; a brownie still wrapped in plastic to sealed containers of assorted condiments…

…but a different controversy erupted when FlyerTalk member jahason admitted “many times I have helped myself to coffee outside hotel conf rooms.” Is that considered stealing?

“Not passing judgement, but as somebody who has conference and meeting planning as part of their responsibilities, and knows that coffee goes for $85 per gallon are you okay with ‘borrowing’ from others?” asked FlyerTalk member plenow in response.


I do not like eating off the plate or cutlery of most people I know — let alone from plates which were used by complete strangers and left unguarded for who knows how long in a hallway in a hotel or resort property. The chances of me dying are slim from doing that, I know; but I would think that there is a good chance of contracting an illness of some sort.

In fact, I am typically not a fan of room service in general — even when the food is untouched and delivered specifically for my consumption.

Perhaps a sealed container of a condiment might be a consideration; but then what would I do with it afterwards? Consume it by itself? Save it for later? Try to pass it through an airport security checkpoint if it is a liquid such as ketchup or mustard?

It just boggles my mind that someone would actually consider taking food off of a used room service tray. Is it really worth it to either save a couple of bucks or instantly satisfy a hunger?

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

  1. As long as the food is unopened/unused, why should a hungry passerby let that food go to waste? The hotel/room service obviously can’t (or at least shouldn’t) re-use or re-serve it, so then it’s a matter of weighing the personal risk vs reward. Room service food is expensive, and finding an outside restaurant may not be feasible (too late at night or too far to travel to).

    I don’t specifically remember scavenging from a room service tray, but have definitely done lots of other stuff related to it (e.g. take fruit and bottled waters from the hotel gym, ask for the uneaten lobster of a work colleague who didn’t want it, take advantage of free lunch leftovers at work, etc.), but I probably have and just don’t remember.

    Of course, some degree of caution/discretion is advised.

  2. Interesting enough title that I would click on it, but no substance to the article. I would much rather read about a piece of partially eaten meat you washed down with some partially drunk glass of merlot from an outside tray.

  3. When I was an exchange student in a tropical developing country. One night I went to a social function at a high-end hotel. Late at night right before I was to go back to the university I was hungry and there was no food at all to be purchased that late on the way back and nothing at the university or in my room.

    I passed by a table in the hotel that had numerous plates of eaten and partially eaten dinners, However one plate had an untouched stack of pineapple rings on it. It had like a fancy tooth pick stuck in it and an exotic flower on it. So I stood there and ate the pineapple. It was good. Believe me, the food at the university was way more dangerous! And far worse tasting.

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