The joys and perils of 24-hour room service

At night-time, the possession of a serviced room is nigh on disastrous, as Samuel Muston recalls

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The Independent Travel

Room service, like river swimming, is a pastime best left to the day-time. In the lighted hours, the thin, lemony voiced policeman in your head will prevent you from ordering that €40 ham toastie: "Noo!" it will whine, "don't be so schtoopid. Get outside to that boulangerie, you lazy sod." And the thin, lemony voiced policeman in your head is right in this matter. The problem is he can't be on duty all the time. He seems to immediately vacate the scene the moment you cross the threshold of the saloon bar, not to be seen again until you wake the next day.

At night-time, the possession of a serviced room is nigh on disastrous. I remember once staying in the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, one of the most beautiful hotels in Europe, and wandering in under, well, a bit of a cloud, at 4.45am, taking the breakfast menu off the door handle and merrily ticking what I thought I might fancy a few hours hence.

The food duly came at 11am and it might have fed a battalion. There were silver domes beneath which eggs and bacon dwelt, plates of melon, bowls of figs, a fillet of smoked salmon, cereal with goats' milk and two packets of Marlboro Lights, all the more mysterious for the fact I do not smoke.

The staff had done their job well, even to the extent of wheeling in a second table to accommodate this not-so-petit petit déjeuner. They had, though, forgotten the one thing I really wanted, and actually remembered ordering: an arrangement of blueberries and raspberries. Still, I set about the sausages and tried to put it from my mind. And then suddenly: knock! knock! at the door.

"'ere are your razzberries, sir," said the French waiter with laudable hauteur.

"Ze chef apologies for ze delay," he said, "only it took some time to apply ze gold leaf to the berries."

Collapse, as they used to say, of stout party.

When the bill was presented, naturally, I considered feigning death. Still, light of pocket, rich of experience, I suppose.

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