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A minority of guests do desire to cook themselves (even at luxury hotels like Shangri-La, Hilton's Waldorf Astoria, Marriott's Ritz-Carlton), as I've seen many guests complain about overpriced food in hotel and non-hotel restaurants, buy groceries, or order takeout from external restaurants. I'm not asking about some properties' larger suites or villas that contain kitchens, as other guests can't use them; or extended stay hotels with kitchens, as they are uncommon.

By 'private on-demand (POD) kitchen', I mean a private kitchen in the hotel's public area (away from rooms) used by only the guest who booked it. I don't expect guests to share kitchens with other unknown guests.

Commenters beneath argue that a POD kitchen is too hazardous, but how? It feels safer than the Four Seasons Maui's 'above-water activities' like 'Boogie boards, Kayaks, Paddle boards, Sunset sail, Water wings'. Resorts' beaches are unsupervised at night, and impaired guests can easily harm or drown himself, but the resorts still allow any guest to access these gadgets and the ocean.

My grandparents traveling in Hawaii spurred this question; they desire to prepare Hawaiian foods themselves like coconut, taro, sweet potato. Why pay $50 for one piece of local fish at a restaurant, when they can grill it themselves for $5?

closed as off-topic by Harper, Giorgio, Ali Awan, dunni, Willeke Feb 20 at 9:07

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    Because hotel owners and operators think they'll make more money without offering kitchens. In-room kitchens (or even shared kitchen spaces) would increase the hotel's cleaning and maintenance costs, while reducing demand for the hotel's own cafes and restaurants. – David Feb 18 at 0:08
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    "It's obvious that many guests ... desire to cook and prepare some of their meals." - No, that's not at all obvious. My impression is that the number of guests in 4 & 5 star hotels who want to cook their own meals is vanishingly small. – brhans Feb 18 at 2:40
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    > Why pay $50 for one piece of tuna at a restuarant, when they can buy it for $5 and grill it themselves? Well, you've answered it yourself. Why allow guests to eat tuna at $5 when you can sell it at $50 at your restaurant? – Niteesh Shanbog Feb 18 at 9:48
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    Plus, a game room is significantly more unlikely to burn down your hotel. – Zach Lipton Feb 18 at 10:28
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    This question has changed so many times and so much from its original, that all the answers, while good, are no longer applicable! – FreeMan Feb 19 at 21:18

11 Answers 11

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The premise of this question is flawed. A hotel room is pretty much defined as a place to sleep, and not much else. Once you add in a kitchen, you've moved from "hotel room" to serviced apartment (aka residence, villa, etc), and luxury chains absolutely do cater to this market. Here's a couple of random examples:

And yes, all of these can be booked for as little as one day, they're not just for extended stays.

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    @Greek-Area51Proposal Not in the room they don't, unless the hotels you're staying in are way fancier than mine :P – jpatokal Feb 18 at 6:10
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    Sorry. I didn't mean to require these facilities inside the room. I changed my question, to at least 1 kitchen on the premises. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Feb 18 at 6:12
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    @jpatokal: a big number of hotel rooms (I'm tempted to say a majority), fancy and not so much, have not only a bed but fridge and microwave, big tv with movies, desk, telephone. Doesn't sound to me like "pretty much a place to sleep". – Martin Argerami Feb 18 at 13:06
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    I have stayed in the Hilton Noumea :-D and can confirm they have lovely kitchens. In tourist places I guess about a third of the hotels I've stayed in have a mini kitchen – Kate Gregory Feb 18 at 15:35
  • Ellis Motel: Kitchenette. (You need them in that area because town is short on eateries) – Joshua Feb 18 at 17:44
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NOTE: This is a speculative answer as I do not own or manage a hotel, but I have several friends who do.

It is mostly likely because people who afford luxury hotels also want the luxury of having meals cooked for them and can afford it too. So they eat in restaurants and many of those same luxury hotels offer high-end restaurants in order to capitalize on the buying power of their guests.

One can imagine that some people might prefer to have their own kitchen, but luxury hotels usually do not offer that service, because the demand is probably rather limited. Kitchens are convenient to lower the cost of meals yet consume a lot of time. Time to cook, locate and buy food in an unknown location. This might be fun for some type of travellers, but I expect that most will prefer to spend time abroad enjoying the sights, working for business trips and even trying out local dishes where they are staying.

You mention resort locations specifically and those are usually places with multiple restaurants, meal plans and all-inclusive which says that those type of locations cater more to people who would rather avoid cooking or even the effort to choose where to eat. Granted, this is not everyone, but one would guess it to be the majority.

Another point in your question is for single-bed rooms, but it is my opinion that the market for lodging having a kitchen is greater for larger rooms, particularly families. When you have small children and a number of them, there is greater need for a kitchen. Kids my be picky eaters and have a different meal schedule than adults. A meal at a restaurant sometimes can be stressful on parents when they deal with various needs and demands, not to mention the lack of children's prices and portions in some establishments.

Where we do regularly see kitchens in high-end accommodations is in remote areas. This is for people resting and escaping from it all. In this case, there is not much sense to maintain a staffed restaurant on site, but they often take orders and deliver groceries for the guests (or their cook) to cook. I have seen tours where they pick guests up from the airport, take them grocery shopping and drop them off at the remote lodging right after.

As a few comments point out, there is even a some rooms which are offered with kitchens but as you noted, this is a very small minority. Again we are talking in general about hotels of a certain rating across the world. Also for those who do need to have food in room, there is nearly always room service, many times available 24 hours/day, and delivery. With room service, the hotel also cleans up and collects the dishes from the hallway or your room the next day.

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    Luxury hotels also offer room service. Many have 24 hour room service for some basic stuff, plus more choice and more elaborate food when the restaurant is serving meals. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 18 at 0:48
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    @Damon Someone sounds rather jealous. But if you're the person who enjoys going shopping, then cooking and then cleaning everything up (oh the endless fun) on their vacation, more power to you - there's enough options available. – Voo Feb 18 at 10:32
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    I think you missed the fact that high end hotels do also offer rooms with their own kitchen - mgmresorts.com/en/hotels/suites/suites.html I don't think I want to write an answer to this effect when IMO it would be a good addition to yours. – GPPK Feb 18 at 11:05
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    @Damon In addition to what Voo mentioned (time and effort to shop, prep, cook, clean), and what I added above (variety within and between meals), not everyone likes and is good at cooking. I acknowledge that there are people like you who prefer to cook even on vacation and that's perfectly fine. Calling everyone who prefers to go out for whatever reason tasteless "nouveau riche [or] wannabe" is incredibly and unnecessarily pretentious, judgemental, and shortsighted. – Kevin Feb 19 at 19:19
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    @Damon I agree that you see it that way. Many people don't, though. Many people view cooking as a waste of time or not fun, and would rather go to a restaurant with their loved ones to spend time talking to them without having to cook. I get that you enjoy cooking, but it's a fact that most people do not. And it's a fact that most people enjoy eating at restaurants. And it's a fact that nice restaurants actually do serve good food. It's not "crap" or "mumbo-jumbo"—you just can't afford it. And that's okay. Life isn't fair. – only_pro Feb 20 at 16:37
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In addition to excellent answers above, it's worth pointing out the safety issue. As soon as you allow people you don't know access to a kitchen, the risk of fire goes up many-fold. Considering that a lot of people who stay in the hotel end up being somewhat intoxicated, alcohol doesn't mix well with kitchens.

In addition, would you risk having one guest who burns his hand while cooking then suing you for damages? Because you didn't provide something or other or because they simply want to get money out of you?

  • I have relatives who own hotels, and this is a huge factor in everything that they choose to offer or not offer. Even a minor decision like using pod-style coffee makers vs. traditional coffee pots factors as heavily on reducing fire hazards and burn risks as it does on economics. I hesitate to think that the insurance company would allow them to permit guests unsupervised use of something as potentially dangerous as a stove or oven. – bta Feb 19 at 1:57
  • This. I have two words to add: insurance rates! If a hotel could even get insurance doing this. (This is one of the great things economically about a properly functioning insurance industry: they convert invisible risk into actual costs.) – jpmc26 Feb 19 at 5:36
  • It is not only a question of accidents/fires. There is a very large issue in food safety and regulations on how a hotel manages and store food. There can even be mandatory training for all personnel handling food. These are regulations that cannot be waived by a guest signing a contract. And then there is the case of one guest cooking something another guest does not approve of. – Bent Feb 19 at 9:29
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    Hotel bears no responsibility for food, as it does not provide food. Guests would use their own food for cooking. What's more important is potential allergy aspects, e.g. one guest cooks something that causes a severe allergic reaction in another guest. – Aleks G Feb 19 at 9:31
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    Many midrange hotels do already have in-room kitchens. For example, Homewood Suites by Hilton. There's a cooktop in every single room. So the liability and fire safety issues can be managed at a reasonable price. – user71659 Feb 20 at 8:11
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People who book luxury hotels don't have the time to cook. That feature is the kind of thing you find in youth hostels, or better hiking trail "huts". Especially today, in the age of Doordash and Uber Eats, it is insanely easy to get food of any variety delivered.

Guest cooking would compete with the hotel's own food service. They do not want you making Shrimp Vindaloo, they want you to pay the hotel's concierge to fetch it from a good local restaurant.

Of course, some hotels are willing to rent you fully equipped apartments with a kitchen, in which case your right to cook is part of the deal.

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    I regularly stay in 4/5-star hotels, and virtually everything about this answer is wrong. Particularly with young kids it's often less hassle to cook simple meals than it is to deal with restaurants. Serviced apartments have their entirely separate dishes/cutlery washed right there in the apartment's dishwasher, and there are itemized lists of what's supposed to be there, so they can send you the bill if you decide to pop the 7" saucepan in your suitcase. Finally, no hotel in their right mind would let a guest in their commercial kitchen! – jpatokal Feb 18 at 5:12
  • Better, but hotels are perfectly happy to have you cook your own meals, as long as you're paying them top dollar for the privilege of renting the kitchen! – jpatokal Feb 18 at 5:31
  • @jpatokal true enough, I'll emphasize that. – Harper Feb 18 at 5:37
  • I changed the question to shared kitchens then. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Feb 18 at 6:00
  • Also, isn't your first para. a broad generalization? My relatives book at luxury hotels sometimes (not rich enough) and also desire to cook. I concur with your second para. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Feb 18 at 21:35
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Good question. In short I'd say that for a luxury hotel:

  1. An inability to guarantee quality.
  2. Difficulty forecasting and managing costs.
  3. Lack of reliable customer demand.

I used to audit a couple of international 5-star hotel chains and have visited a good number of hostels/mid-range hotels in various capacities, though I never remember someone being overly unhappy about the lack of cooking facilities. I only ever remember a few times when there was something like a toaster, microwave or a small grill perhaps to heat up that slightly stale bread just right. But breakfast is easy, low cost, easy to scale up, low wastage; most of the unused produce can be used the next day, and often it is included with the cost of the room, so easy to predict required staff/food etc.

If they were to provide cooking facilities what would a customer want? At a top-end hotel I'd expect them to supply everything I could possibly need for me to cook my meal. Think of every type of pan, spatula, muffin tin, condiments, fruits, vegetables, meats, oven fridge, freezer. You would also need staff, at least one person just to make sure the place doesn't burn down which adds an overhead (fixed) cost. Also one day everyone may want to make something and the next day nobody does. Imagine a stag (bachelor) party is making a load of steaks but a vegan family wants to make a birthday cake for their 7 year old daughter.

Hotels can look to make profit through many services, the rooms/accomodation generates profit through economies of scale and efficiency of processes. The restaurants (of luxury hotels in particular) normally have large margins on high quality food. Hoping to draw the more lazy hotel guests and outside diners. Often hotel restaurants can survive despite only being half full on the busiest night. They already have a kitchen for breakfast and room service so why not have a restaurant as well? They tend not to offer services with low profit margins though - hotels don't normally offer a taxi service, for example (apart from places such as the Burj Al Arab which you probably wouldn't describe as a 'taxi'), because it doesn't make them enough profit.

Certainly - as others have mentioned - supplying cooking facilities would eat into potential restaurant profit, but I'd say it's a secondary factor.

At a hostel the expectation of quality is lower and you would expect everyone there to make the majority of their meals there. Effectively making it lower cost per use of the cooking facilities, more predictable and also it's something people look for when searching for hostels.

Hotels in the middle range have to find a way to differentiate to make themselves appealing. Often it's value or they can often have things such as a bar or some other particular draw for guests.

Obviously luxury- and low-end accommodation do as well but it's generally fairly low on the list for people travelling who are already spending a lot of money on other things. Travel to the destination and accommodation will normally dwarf the cost of eating so travellers see it as an additional cost which is low and anticipated.

Apologies - bit of a ramble and I could go on but hopefully that gives the primary reasons.

  • Thanks! 'They already have a kitchen for breakfast and room service so why not have a restaurant as well.': Don't some hotel restaurants have their own kitchen? My grandparents ate at the Four Seasons Hong Kong a while ago, and Caprice (their French restaurant) had their own open kitchen. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Feb 18 at 21:36
  • @Greek-Area51Proposal I would think every restaurant has a kitchen, by virtue of being a restaurant. – Azor Ahai Feb 20 at 0:45
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There is no market for a shared kitchen.

You proceed from a false assumption. People staying at the Four Seasons are not interested in preparing their own meals, unless they have a 'residence' style room and hire a chef.

Some properties (no refs, but I'm 98.7% sure) allow guests to self-cater events which gives them access to a private kitchen, usually for a hired chef, but I doubt that's a hard requirement. This would come with a substantial fee to cover cleaning. You will not find communal kitchens due to servicing/sanitary issues not to mention scheduling.

Also, hotels with in-room kitchenettes are very, very common and precisely satisfy the market you are asking about.

  • Exactly! Chains which are based around in-room kitchens include Staybridge Suites, TownePlace Suites, Hyatt House, Residence Inn, Homewood Suites, Element, Home2, Mainstay Suites, etc. Plus numerous non-chain luxury properties like Vdara in Las Vegas have kitchens in their suites, in order to make the room feel like a condo versus a hotel, and for self-catering. – user71659 Feb 20 at 8:07
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A couple of big reasons against shared kitchens will be familiar to anyone who has ever lived in shared accomodation:

  • How sure can you be that your stuff is still there when you want it?

Or:

  • Does the hotel provide food storage (fridges) in every bedroom - how far away is that if you forget something?

  • Who decides when food is old and to be disposed of?

  • Who cleans the kitchen and the dirty dishses that some users leave lying around?

The need is covered by serviced apartments, aparthotels, motels with kitchenettes etc. as well as a few hotels that provide a fridge and microwave as well as the usual hot-drink-making facilities.

On holiday I've stayed in plenty of examples (mostly at the cheap end of the market, but also a suite-hotel at an airport. These were mainly in the US/Canada, as I tend to stay in standalone self-catering accomodation in Europe.

On business there's less need (and time) but sometimes a simple cold meal is desirable if you've been overly well-fed on the rest of the trip - a fridge is the most you need for that; I've been known to use a portable (Peltier) mini-fridge. The rare exception is people with severe dietary restrictions, who can sometimes struggle when travelling.

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First of all, the premise is at least not 100% true: I know at least one small hotel chain (ca. 7 hotels in an European country) which offers appartments with a small private kitchen. Not 5 star, but not youth-hostel-like either; and those are their standard rooms, not special ones. ~100-120€/night, so not super cheap either.

Second of all, while I love that feature, my wife would never enter such a hotel. It would remind her too much of house work, she wants to get away from that. (And no, it's not only her job to cook at home, that's not the issue.)

Third of all, while I love the in-appartment kitchen, I would never use a shared kitchen. I do not usually use any shared facilities at all in hotels, mostly because I don't use any facility except my room, at all. Hotels are a base camp for me. If I had to bother finding the kitchen, lugging my stuff around, getting acquainted with the procedures, having to buy ingredients beforehand etc. - then I'd be more likely to grab something which can be eaten without cooking.

If price were the main motivation, then I'd not go to a hotel in the first place (but a "mobile home" or AirBNB or whatever).

Considering the fact, then, that having such a kitchen would directly cut into their own kitchen sales, and is more effort for the hotel owner all over, and is either too full or too empty by Murphy's Law, those are plenty of reasons not to have them, in general.

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    "I know at least one small hotel chain" -> why not name it directly? :) – JonathanReez Feb 18 at 22:07
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    harrys-home.com, @JonathanReez... not named due it not being so relevant to the answer, and for ad avoidance. ;) – AnoE Feb 18 at 23:54
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If you are okay with one or two fewer stars on your Hotel you can quite easily find one which offers this.

But you should probably be searching for private rooms in "Hostel" instead of "Hotel".

And also be prepared that some of the people preparing food will be staying in the hostel part of the establishment, some to reduce travel costs but some also to socialize a bit.

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You won't be able to "grill it yourself for $5".

That kitchen will take up space, you can maybe fit 2 kitchens in the space of a small room. It'll also need to be cleaned in between guests. And you can only fit in 2-3 reservations per night (with 2-3 cleaning sessions in between).

So the kitchen will be rented out at prices comparable to a room, and the "grill it yourself" option will cost $50, not $5. Combine this with limited demand, and hotel chains quickly see the space allocated to a kitchen would be much more profitable as another room.

  • But hotels don't charge other services that require a small room's space, like a hospitality/late check-out room, game rooms, etc.. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Feb 21 at 2:35
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A hotel is a place that offers a quite specific service: an accommodation, not a sleep-over. People pay much more than for hostel or private apartment, but they receive a package of services, including food and cleaning services. So you don't have to loose your precious time and concentrate on sightseeing.

Another aspect is, that hotels, opposite to hostels, are for people who want to enjoy their time alone / with friends and not share their place with other people, which a potential for interpersonal conflicts and lost nerves. Imagine your grandparents, for example. According to your questions, they make problems for sport everyone where they arrive. Avoiding conflicts with people like them is exactly why I prefer hotel over hostel, even if it costs me much more. I'm on my vacations to rest, and not to quarrel with random strangers who find it funny to ruin the nerves of other people ;)

Of course, hotels doesn't want to compete with their restaurant service as well.

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