Business trip meals: Eat in or go local?
I’m bringing up this question today after seeing frequent traveling buddy Kelly Cameron’s photograph of his dinner in Nairobi last week. (Truth be told, on this trip, he stayed in a nondescript condo in a gated community instead of a hotel like he usually does.) Upon the advice of his hired driver, he wound up at Ranalo Foods – hence the fish with the glaring eye.
Cameron had a great experience.
“Not only was the fish good – and I don’t even like fish – but lunch for the two of us was about $10 – including beer! So, I would definitely go back to this place,” he writes.
I’m not sure if we should credit the haunting fish eye or the topic, but a number of Facebook buddies spoke up on this question on my Facebook page. (I invite you to join it if you’d like.) And of the six people who wrote comments, all six opt to venture out.
Travel expert Pauline Frommer writes, “The only times I DON’T venture out is when the hotel’s restaurant has made a name for itself. That’s happening more and more lately. But even then, sometimes I go out anyway, just because I like supporting small businesses.”
Frequent traveler Mike Holovacs, a former concierge, writes, “Room service is for those who lack a sense of adventure. I stayed at the Intercontinental in Athens in 2000, and at the time (blasphemous when in Greece, but) there was an amazing little pizza and pasta joint down the street. Went there both nights, and also found one of best white wines I’ve ever had, which back then $2.99USD/bottle.”
Ava Roxanne, author of the MySkinConcierge blog, writes, “I always venture out. Room service is for the tried and true items like breakfast or snacks. I am proud of Kelly for venturing out and having a wonderful food adventure!”
Frequent traveler James Alan Wilson writes, “I certainly agree with Pauline’s statement – exploring local dining is a big part of any travel. Two typical reasons to dine in at the hotel are (1) – So tired and not wanting the extra effort, or if I’m having to work after supper, so it’s just easier; (2) The in-house restaurant really is great (recent example is the incredible Blue Duck Tavern in the Park Hyatt in Washington, DC.) I keep my list of favorite food near various hotels that I tend to frequent. And by good food, it can be a small ‘hole-in-the-wall’ – usually something ethnic – to fine dining.”
Frequent traveler Doug Drew writes that he, too, always ventures out “unless am in an unsafe area (international travel). Most hotel concierge’s are fantastic are guiding me to an interesting place. You just have to give the concierge enough information about what you are looking for. One concierge told me he hates it when a hotel guest says “….I am just looking for a nice place with continental food.” That’s no help at all!”
Frequent traveler George Papadopoulos writes, “I always venture out too unless there is a free meal involved somehow (status upgrades/certs/etc.) as hotel food is almost always over priced.”
Personally, I’m all in favor of exploring unless I’ve had a totally grueling day or I want to check out the hotel restaurant, which is usually the case.
But as Frommer notes above, hotels are increasingly giving us a reason to stay put.
Many full-service hotels are putting in chef-driven restaurants that rely on locally grown veggies, meat, dairy and other ingredients rather than what comes off the Sysco food service truck.