Hold the Phone: Room Service Just Got Fancier

CHICAGO—Noshing in New York. Mmmmming over a meal in Miami. No surprise, travelers often sample a locale through their taste buds and the food they encounter. What if you could offer hotel guests the same experience?

The Thompson Chicago here on the Gold Coast is capitalizing on the foodie trend by offering upscale, gourmet in-room dining for its guests. Its exclusive partner in this venture is Nico Osteria, an Italian seafood-driven restaurant in the hotel’s lobby, with a menu by James Beard “Outstanding Chef” Award-winner Paul Kahan.

“The neighborhood is iconic, the location is stunning and the Thompson team shared exactly the same philosophy on service, hospitality and employee culture as we did. The partnership with them was the icing on the cake per se,” said Kimberly Galban, managing partner, Nico Osteria.

Typically, room service consists of casual fare such as burgers, wings and omelettes placed on a cart and pushed into the room. At Thompson Chicago, it’s a fine-dining event worthy of sophisticated gastronomic palates along with the attractive ambiance of a private setting.

“We strike a balance of traditional offerings with non-traditional offerings to cater to our guests—there are breakfast and lunch staples, as well as the full Nico Osteria menu—to elevate the hotel guest experience, allowing them to order from the restaurant while having the convenience of staying in their room,” said Galban.

It all starts upon check-in, where front desk and concierge staff are trained to inform guests about Nico Osteria’s current menus and their availability through in-room dining as well as the restaurant. “Both menus are different and creative as they are designed by Nico Osteria. What is unique is that you have the ability to get that day’s menu served in your room. Nico Osteria has fantastic dishes available that aren’t on the in-room dining menu. The restaurant menu is more extensive,” said Chad Jackson, director of catering and conference services, Thompson Chicago.

The hotel adds a personal, yet detailed touch when a guest calls the room service line. “We answer the phone using the guest’s name and handle each call as if it’s a person sitting at table in a restaurant. Our coordinators take on the role of servers, explaining some of the most popular items on the menu ranging from their ingredients to preparation. Once the order is completed, we let the guest know what time we will be arriving to the room for ‘service,’ and not ‘delivery,’ ” said Jackson.

Nico Osteria prepares all of the food for in-room dining with some of the items coming directly from the restaurant, which requires timely attention and delivery. There’s no additional fee charged to guests for this service.

And, now for the main event: Dinner is served—in the hotel room. “Our server enters the room, sets the table and presents the meal to our guests. They pour the water or first glass of wine, while explaining each course. Also, we offer second deliveries if a guest orders any of our house made gelatos or sorbets for dessert,” he said.

“It should be an experience and an opportunity to personalize service. This is such an opportunity for us to pamper our guests and that is just what we want to do for everyone who orders. We want to treat you like you are in your own private dining room.”

In the future, the hotel-restaurant partnership will offer private dining on the penthouse terraces. “We have outdoor terraces overlooking the city and Lake Michigan. It’s the perfect spot to host a dinner with custom menus from Nico Osteria. They are the best private dining options in the city,” he said.


—Corris Little