If you're at a hotel and there is a buffet meal, and you can take as much as you want, is there any problem taking a few extra rolls or any of the food back to your room for later?

I assume if I'm not hungry or able to eat now then there would be no problem taking for later as I'm taking the same amount they are offering. But if I'm eating now,
A. Do we think the hotel cares how much I take or if I take some for later?
B. Assuming the answer is no, if I ask a waiter and he says fine, is that enough? Or do I have to ask the management or somebody in a more authoritative position?

  • 7
    What the expectation of the buffet owner is most likely depends on which community/city/country the hotel is located in. I know some places have guards to make sure you don't take any food or dishes away, and others have signs saying to leave extra food/plates outside your hotel door.
    – avi
    Dec 4 '11 at 13:30
  • 1
    The rambam holds that if you take someones stuff, knowing that they will let you have it when you ask them, this is stealing. So how is owners expectations relevant?
    – user1040
    Jan 25 '12 at 17:10
  • 3
    Not the same thing. If the owner openly expects you to take, then he has effectively given you permission already.
    – LazerA
    Feb 1 '12 at 7:25
  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/43412
    – msh210
    Jul 15 '14 at 21:28

The waiter is a representative of the hotel. If he says you are allowed to take food out of the dining room, then go ahead.

However, most buffets (both in hotels and restaurants) have strict rules against removing food from the dining room.

Remember; the hotel paid for every piece of food that is there. They make a general estimation of how much food to purchase. If everyone that came took out several meals' worth of food to save for later, the hotel would lose money.

If someone has already paid for their meal, like in the case of a shabbos / yom tov hotel package, and that person is sick and in their hotel room, the staff will most certainly arrange a very generous portioned care package for that person, and likely deliver it to the room as well.

As always, "dina d'malchusa dina". Follow the rules. Always assume that it is forbidden to take food out of a buffet dining room, without permission.

  • 2
    Both this answer and the deleted answer said that a waiter is a representative of the hotel owner and empowered to grant permission. If you're checked in to the hotel, you probably received fine print, among which may well have been something like "No employee [or: No employee except the manager] is empowered to waive any of our rights" or "Our rights cannot be waived orally". (In the States, anyway.)
    – msh210
    Dec 18 '11 at 20:48
  • For the purposes of someone who wants to take an extra roll up to his room, the waiter suffices. If the manager would see Reb Yid with some food in hand, and he asks, "Where did you get that?" If Reb Yid says, "The waiter said I could take it", then the management won't pursue it further. If he didn't ask anyone, then he might be in trouble, and it constitutes a chillul hashem. Just like a waiter is empowered to send food back and use the restaurant's resources to prepare a substitute dish, a waiter is empowered to allow some food to leave the dining room of a buffet.
    – user1095
    Dec 18 '11 at 21:09
  • 1
    That stands to reason. (As always, sources for answers are good.)
    – msh210
    Dec 18 '11 at 21:11
  • Related to the above comments: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/14586.
    – msh210
    Feb 23 '12 at 18:11

I think you must ask the manager (based on what I heard from HaRav Musafi Shelita). I heard from him that you aren't even allowed to use a phone printer computer or fax machine at a work place without permission. This is a Kal WaHomer. Because here the hotel is losing money if someone takes too much- they calculate what they order.

  • What did you hear from him, that this answer is based on?
    – msh210
    Dec 18 '11 at 21:08
  • I heard from him that you aren't even allowed to use a phone printer computer or fax machine at a work place without permission. This is a Kal WaHomer. Because here the hotel is losing money if someone takes too much- they calculate what they order. Dec 18 '11 at 21:32
  • 2
    @H'Gabriel, please edit all information and reasoning that's relevant to your answer into the answer itself.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 19 '11 at 7:45

Part one of your question seems to me that it should be case by case, depending on what the hotel intended. You would have to find that out in a reliable way.

Part two - I asked a dayan in Lakewood about if I can rely on the "psak" of the sales reps if I ask about return policies, namely if someone buys a camera, uses it for their big simcha, then uploads the pictures and returns it, and the sales rep says they are OK with people buying it with that intent, can I do so, and he said the sales rep is not in a position to give such allowances since they own no authority in the company. The same should apply to the waiter.

  • 1
    Wouldn't it just depend what kind of authority the company gives their sales rep?
    – Double AA
    Aug 18 '14 at 16:13
  • @DoubleAA It could be. He assumed that as a status quo assumption someone without any degree of ownership does not have the right to make such decisions. Wouldn't it be more difficult to ascertain the degree of authority a company gives than to just find out the policy itself?
    – jim
    Aug 18 '14 at 16:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .