POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 9, 2012
Question: If you stay at a hotel that offers a "Manager's Reception" or "Lobby Happy Hour," are you supposed to stay and socialize, or can you just grab a glass of wine or whatever and head back to your room? Also, if you can't drink what they're offering, can you ask them for something else? I don't mean a different alcoholic beverage -- just a soda or something.
The hotel my wife and I stayed at a couple of weeks ago was offering sangria, but she's pregnant and we didn't see anything nonalcoholic. She felt weird asking for a different drink, so we skipped the happy hour entirely. That was a shame because it's one of the perks of staying at that particular hotel, and it was 90 degrees outside, so we were parched.
Answer: It's usually OK to grab a glass and take it up to your room. I often do that myself because "happy hour with free booze" usually means "giant crowd of tipsy people in the lobby." You do, of course, need to be polite to the person serving the drinks, so you should stay and exchange a word or two about the weather, etc. However, if it's a total zoo, don't feel compelled to stick around.
Also, I don't think your wife should have felt self-conscious about asking whether they had anything nonalcoholic. It's a reasonable (and, probably, fairly common) request. It's not an open bar, but simply asking, "Is there a nonalcoholic option?" is fine.
Q: My colleague and I stayed at the same hotel. He's a member of the hotel chain's loyalty club and got all sorts of perks -- an upgraded room, free bottled water, breakfast coupons, etc. I checked in at the same time and got nothing, and I was nice to the check-in clerk while he was rather rude to her. He never stopped talking on his cellphone during check-in and never thanked her. What's the deal?
A: The loyalty club is the deal. The front-desk clerk can't refuse a member the perks he is entitled to because he's rude, though I bet she would have liked to! Nor is she probably authorized to offer member perks to nonmembers, even if they arrive together. So if you want the same treatment your colleague got, sign up for the club.
Email travel etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.