Tips and advice on how to use a hotel's room service

Excuse me, but why on earth are you staying in, ordering room service? Don't you travel in order to discover new customs and explore new horizons? How is a club sandwich and a beer while watching CNN going to help you do that?

No, really, I get it. Sometimes you just don't want to brave the streets on your own, or battle with a foreign language and jet lag. Or perhaps you are meeting up with your significant other and celebrating with a bottle of bubbly and dinner in.

When New York's Waldorf Hotel introduced the concept of 24-hour room service in the 1930s, it was to cater for its well-heeled and mostly well-known guests, who appreciated the privacy and anonymity it afforded them.

Today, the whole notion of room service has changed considerably. Hotel dining rooms are much more approachable for solo travellers, for a start, and guests have discovered they can use food delivery services to bypass the more pricey room service menu.

But room service still has its own special, pampering, wagging-school type of magic, especially if you do it right. That means keeping things achievable. Simple things work best, like the international clichés of spaghetti Bolognese, beef burgers, Caesar salads and fries. Asian soups and noodles will be great in Asian hotels, and not in Mexican ones.

Fish or seafood is best avoided - leave that tray in the corner overnight and your room will smell to high heaven by morning. And never order coffee. It will never be hot, and never be recognisable as coffee. Wine, however, works really, really well on room service, because they can't do anything to it except pop it in an ice-bucket.

Be specific, when ordering. Do not just order "milk", but specify cold milk, hot milk, or a glass of milk. Not just potato chips but fries, especially in the US, where an order of chips will get you a basket of potato crisps. Spell out if you want butter with your bread, or you may not get it, especially in olive-oil countries such as Italy and Greece. Spell out if you don't want butter when in France, where they will give you butter with everything. It's why we love France so much.

Also, don't trust the trolley. Lift those warming lids and check that you have everything you need, because if you don't, it will take approximately 45 minutes for them to bring it, and you will have forgotten what you wanted it for in the first place.  And double check for tomato sauce. As long as you have that, everything will be alright.