Until coffee shops in hotels start offering gluten-free baked goods, you need to concern yourself primarily with what goes on in the hotel restaurant and the lounge. As with any restaurant, you will need to apply your menu reading skills, watch out for cross-contact issues and have your questions ready. But in hotels, it’s wise to be aware of the overall service environment that can make eating gluten-free challenging, particularly if you’re under a time constraint.
Hotels are typically bustling places that cater to the on the go business travelers and tourists. Service is particularly fast-paced in the morning. There is one key difference between hotel dining and dining in a free-standing restaurant: hotel chefs and service staff are often serving dining guests simultaneously with room service demands and possibly other restaurants in the hotel, plus the lounge. Special dietary requests can challenge the busy service staff, and service may not be as timely and precise as it could be. So, while asking questions is always a good thing to do, when staying in hotels you may find it better to keep your questions to a minimum and order what you know to be safe. Too many questions could make for an uncomfortable delay, particularly if you have a flight to catch.
Be aware that the level of gluten-free awareness in hotels will vary dramatically. Hotels at Walt Disney World Resorts and Yosemite National Park, for example, are leaders in the special diet arena. Other hotels are easing into it more slowly. Don’t expect a hotel to have gluten-free bread for your morning toast, and if they do, remember to ask if they have dedicated toasters for the bread! The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado has gluten-free bread at the ready for diners.