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Room Disservice

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A classic ploy of heroes and villains alike for gaining access to their target who is staying at a hotel is to pose as room service personnel. Can turn into a gag if the subject becomes suspicious because they didn't order room service, especially if they are staying at a low-end establishment that clearly doesn't offer room service in the first place.

A more sensible ploy could be to pretend to be housekeeping staff. Other kinds of services may also be impersonated, such as escort services, depending on where they're staying and other circumstances.

Outside of a hotel setting, this type of ruse is a form of Delivery Guy Infiltration.

Also see Deadly Delivery, Janitor Impersonation Infiltration, and Ransacked Room.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Bubblegum Crisis episode "Double Vision" did this three times. One was Nene, pretending to be a drinks stewardess to watch a boomer designer; then Linna posing as the laundry girl; and finally, Reika/Vision who impersonated a call girl in order to poison him so that she and her allies could kidnap him using a fake ambulance.
  • A random post-credits sequence in School Rumble (not quite The Tag in that it had absolutely nothing to do with the episode) had Akira foil just such a plan. The whole thing is rendered in a faux-3-D art style.
  • This trope is used once in Gunslinger Girl, where some of the girls dress as room maids of a high-class hotel in order to kill a mark staying there. It works fine, until one of them bumps into an actual employee, leading to a Shoot the Dog moment. This is quite odd, considering that the girls look far too young to work in such an environment in the first place.
  • In Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle, Joe Higashi uses this approach to try and ambush Krauser, who has beaten the living hell out of his best friend Terry Bogard and left him a psychological wreck. Krauser of course recognizes him.
    "The hotel thinks of everything. Why, they have even provided an assassin with room service."
  • In the first episode of K, HOMRA does this to the gangsters' hotel room with a pizza delivery guy disguise.

    Comic Books 
  • In Chaos! #3, Evil Ernie poses as a pizza delivery guy to gain access to Lt. Brandon Green's home and wipe out him and his minders.

    Fan Works 
  • In a benign example, in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World the anti-contract faction among the Svenjaya contact John and Paul by having one of them (who really is a hotel porter) go up to their hotel room with a welcome basket of fruit. Paul wonders if the porter is planning to wreak havoc once he gets into the room, but decides “he can handle havoc” and lets the fellow in.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • James Bond
    • At the very end of From Russia with Love, Rosa Klebb's last gambit to kill Bond and steal the McGuffin is to disguise herself as a hotel maid. She fails, but in the original novel, she's able to stab Bond with her Tricked-Out Shoes and nearly kills him.
      • This scene was parodied in Austin Powers. Fails when Oddjob-parody Random Task's shoe-throwing is shown to be a completely ineffective means of fighting.
    • Likewise at the end of Diamonds Are Forever, hitmen Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd deliver a bomb hidden in a food trolley to Bond and Tiffany as they are sailing home on a cruise ship. Despite two prior attempts to kill Bond, he hasn't seen them before, but he does recognize Wint's cologne.
    • In Die Another Day a Chinese agent is sent to Bond's room posing as a masseuse. She fails but lives because she's not there to kill Bond, only to find out what he's doing in Hong Kong.
  • Rather incompetently carried out by Rocco in The Boondock Saints: someone else got there first, he hid his gun in the most obvious place on the cart, he brought a six-shot .38 revolver because his bosses didn't tell him there were nine guys instead of the two he'd been told about (though you'd think he'd be smart enough to bring extra ammunition), and he didn't even bother to tie his hair back to make himself look respectably like a room service attendant. Not to mention, his name tag says Jaffar, and Rocco doesn't look remotely Middle Eastern.
  • The film Point of No Return (aka The Assassin) has a sequence where the protagonist is required to pose as a room service waitress and deliver a trolley with a bomb planted on it to a hotel room. In the original French movie Nikita, it's just a bug.
  • In Kill Bill Vol. 2, a flower delivery woman comes to The Bride's hotel room. When The Bride goes to open the door, the florist shoots through the door, revealing herself to be an enemy assassin.
  • In Grosse Pointe Blank Grocer refers to a couple of female assassins as "Queens of the hotel hit."
  • White Sands (1992). The protagonist arrives at his motel to find the room being cleaned by two maids. So he doesn't expect a thing when they later knock on his door...until he finds himself with a gun at his head, whereupon the two search him for listening devices by slicing off his clothes with knives, then they steal his briefcase full of money and leave instructions on where he's to meet the Big Bad.
  • This is how one of the hitman's assassination attempts goes in Bulworth.
  • Layer Cake has a darkly amusing scene in which the protagonist has arranged a hotel room to have a sexual encounter with his love interest. Right before things "start off" he gets a knock on the door from room service, who turn out to be employees of the Magnificent Bastard of the film, who proceed to stuff him into a bag and kidnap him.
  • Done on the spur of the moment in Notting Hill to cover up an affair. The hero explains his lack of uniform by saying he'd already changed to go home, then decided to take one last call.
  • Lampshaded in Traffic (2000) when the breakfast service knocks on the door and, when prompted about who they are, respond with "The Mob." Subsequently played straight when it turns out to be a Sarcastic Confession, and the breakfast was poisoned. The real breakfast service shows up moments later, but too late.
  • In Ocean's Thirteen, this trope is employed as part of an attempt to ruin Bank's new casino. They sneak into a prestigious reviewer's room while he's out and do all sorts of nasty things to the room, placing bedbugs in the bed, dirtying things, and feeding noxious gases into the vents.
  • Commando. Matrix has just killed Sully and is searching his room when badass villain Cooke arrives outside. Cindy answers the door with her shirt open and a coy smile, claiming she's "Room service" (implying she's an escort). Cooke is suspicious and makes her stand back from the door, but still misses Matrix hiding behind it.
  • Lampshaded, attempted, and subverted in Lethal Weapon 2 in rapid succession, wherein Riggs and Murtaugh give Leo Getz hell about answering the door, an apparent room service cart comes in and the waiter tries to go for Leo but is stopped via Destination Defenestration
  • Played with in Assassins. When room service calls at the room that Rath and Electra are staying in, he points his gun at the closed door, obviously well aware of this tactic, but Electra confirms that she did actually order room service.
    Rath: You should tell me these things!
  • In Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet, two minions of the villain disguise themselves as room service in order to get access to the protagonist's room and the plant "Adele" therein.
  • In The Tournament, Tomoko poses as a bellboy and delivers room service to Lai Lai's hotel room. This is a distraction to allow him to sneak in via the balcony.
  • At the end of Judas Kiss, Coco kills Junior by posing as a waitress and shooting him on the beach at a resort in Mexico.
  • Variation in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: As Watson and Mary are travelling by train to their honeymoon, a mook working for Moriarty, disguised as a train attendant, knocks on the door of their compartment to offer them a bottle of wine with the compliments of the staff. Once he's inside, he draws a knife and attacks them.
  • Cruella: One early scene has Estella putting her seamstress skills to use by making fake hotel uniforms for herself, Horace, and Jasper to pull off a heist in.
  • A non-lethal version in Billion Dollar Brain. While Harry Palmer is sleeping in a hotel in Latvia, a waiter turns up with a silver service dinner. Harry is just saying he hasn't ordered anything when he realises it's his old acquaintance from the KGB, Colonel Stok. Stok then changes out of his waiter's outfit with relief and changes into his uniform, which is hidden under the silver dinner dish.

  • Used by the good guys early in the New Jedi Order series. A New Republic Intelligence operation on what's basically a cruise liner in space, a mock conversation between passengers and an attendant is used as the recognition code.
  • Ciaphas Cain: In the short story The Little Things, a gang of kidnappers has targeted a young noblewoman and plans to get their hands on her by substituting for the room service waiters. Unfortunately for them, the "noblewoman" was one of Inquisitor Vail's undercover identities, and that room service order was for a romantic dinner between her and Cain. It didn't go well for them.
  • With this trope in mind, Able Team nearly shoots a couple of hotel employees when they barge into their hotel in Sri Lanka without knocking. They quickly hide their guns and help them unload the food trolley.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Heroes did it too, when Hiro and Ando infiltrate a hotel room in order to retrieve a woman's bag.
  • Alias: Sydney Bristow has done this on at least one occasion.
  • Inversion: In an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Carl Kolchak is waiting nerve-wracked in his hotel room with a cross in one hand and a sharp oak stake in the other to jump the vampiress call-girl he's been hunting for days as she comes through the door (which has a cross drawn on its inside in lipstick!). It turns out that the pimp substituted another girl at the last minute, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Played with in an episode of NCIS where Tony and Ziva are required to go undercover as married assassins. Since they're being watched by the villains, their own agents surreptitiously drop off necessary surveillance equipment in the guise of room service.
    • In the same episode, a pretty female FBI agent does the same thing disguised as a maid, much to Tony's appreciation.
  • Used with spectacular non-success by Weasel on an episode of Family Matters when Eddie, Weasel, and Waldo wanted to meet a pop star.
  • In the early '70s Saturday Night Live, a recurring sketch was the Landshark, a huge shark that tried to get into people's apartments by knocking on the door and saying, "Uh, candygram..."
  • During a Discovery Channel documentary on (actual) Ninja, some individuals were asked to act as bodyguards and "protect" a target (prevent his cap from being taken off) and were told that the attacker would strike like a ninja of antiquity would. He disguises himself as a set maintenance personnel to get through the bodyguards. Though at first they're reluctant to let him in but he succeeds in the end.
  • In I Love Lucy, Lucy does this several times on their trip to Hollywood to get close to celebrities.
  • Two and a Half Men: Rose did this to Charlie once. Notable as she had to fly in from England to do it.
  • An episode of The Fall Guy had Colt going after a bounty who will not leave his house for anything. After talking to the law enforcement official who had been watching the house and finding out the guy has been subsisting on takeout delivery, Colt goes up to the front door, posing as a pizza delivery guy (he just happened to have a pizza box in his truck). Subverted in that the guy loudly yells "I DIDN'T ORDER A PIZZA!" before charging out of the house and attacking Colt. Fortunately for him, Colt won the fight because the pizza box contained a barbell weight.
  • Played with in the Mission: Impossible episode "The Town"; a group of enemy agents plan to use this trope to assassinate an Iron Curtain defector but are stopped when the IMF impersonate their leader and call off the hit.
  • In the Get Smart episode "Survival of the Fattest", Arab Oil Sheikh Prince Sully is kidnapped by Mary Armstrong, a KAOS agent who is the world's strongest female secret agent. Disguised as a hotel chambermaid, she brings a refrigerator into his hotel room, knocks him unconscious, and smuggles him out in it.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "Tinker, Tailor, Liar, Thief", a thuggish Loan Shark forces his way into Jessica's hotel room by posing as room service.
  • Preacher. Played with in the episode "Sundowner". Fiore, DeBlanc, and Jesse are hiding in a hotel room from the Seraphim. There's a knock on the door.
    DeBlanc: Probably just... the towels.
    [Fiore looks through peephole, then closes his eye in resignation]
    Fiore: It's not. [Seraphim shoots him through the peephole]
  • The Magician: Used by a hitman to gain access to Max's hotel room in "The Manhunters".
  • In the Decoy episode "The Phoner," Casey orders groceries delivered to the apartment where she's staying. Unfortunately for her, the delivery man turns out to be the rapist she's trying to catch.
  • In the mini-series Brotherhood of the Rose, a maid walks in on the protagonist Saul as he's struggling with a hitman in a hotel room. She produces a silenced pistol and tries to shoot Saul, but only hits her compatriot (in the original novel she's just an Innocent Bystander).
  • In Downton Abbey, a Honey Trap claims to be delivering tea as a ploy to get photographed leaving Atticus Aldridge’s hotel room as part of Rose’s mother’s attempt to sabotage their marriage. It happens right after his Stag Party, so he’s drunk enough to fall for it.
  • The Professionals
    • In "Look After Annie", two men wearing white jackets are shown placing pistols under a silver service tray which they carry to the hotel room where controversial politician Annie Irvine is staying. Fortunately it's only Bodie and Doyle testing her security—they're not impressed.
    • In the Action Prologue of "Fugitive", a female terrorist posing as a hotel waitress brings a breakfast tray for a senior member of the CIA staying in a London hotel. Two other terrorists who've been waiting in a nearby room then force their way in while the door is open and bundle him out the window.
    • The episode "Hijack" has a variation. Bodie and Doyle are guarding a witness in a hotel, and ready their guns when room service arrives in case of this trope. The hitman is actually waiting in the room next door and waits till the waiter leaves but Bodie hasn't had time to lock the door before kicking it open.

  • Cabin Pressure: Douglas pulled an exaggerated version of this as a means of revenge (and profit) against an overbearing movie star who thought she could walk all over MJN Air. In "Cremona", Carolyn is her usual brusque self toward film star Hester Macauley, who retaliates in kind and gains the upper hand by threatening to cancel the contract with MJN unless Carolyn waits on her for the entire flight; Douglas decides to use the bitterness that develops between them to his advantage. He tells Carolyn to get revenge on Hester by telling local fans of her appearance in Quest for Camelot - a role she hated and that has attracted a fanbase she hates even more - that she is staying at the Excelsior Hotel in Cremona. Then, he defuses Hester's anger by getting the fans to pay a fortune to pretend to be hotel staff (including some truly absurd positions like "stablehand" and "cheese butler") to give them a chance to meet her, and uses the proceeds to pay for Hester to stay in the state rooms Martin allowed himself to be talked into booking, while Douglas himself takes Hester's old room.

    Video Games 
  • Hitman: Almost every time the setting has included a hotel, room service has been a viable disguise to catch 47's target alone in their room. These disguises are also widely useful for other objectives too since hotel staff typically have unfettered access to most of the building.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, when the main characters are relaxing in the White Wing Palace (effectively their hotel room) a group of assassins comes through the door. Dunban even lampshades it by saying, “Excuse me, we ordered room service an hour ago.”

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • In Girl Genius, someone almost managed to assassinate an injured Baron Wulfenbach by pretending to be a nurse.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer:
    • Subverted in ''Training Day": Archer, while explaining the Chekhov Gun, gives Cyril a hypothetical scenario of being in a Caribbean bungalow, getting high with an exotic woman who may or may not be an assassin when room service arrives with champagne (implied to an incident in Archer's career).
      Archer: Who ordered champagne?
      Cyril: How should I know?
      Archer: Exactly! You're baked! You can't remember! But since when does it take three huge, surly Jamaican guys to deliver one bottle of champagne?
      Cyril: Oh, because they're assassins, too!
      Archer: Or, maybe one guy's a new waiter, the second one's training him, and the third is from maintenance finally off his lazy ass to fix the A/C!
      Cyril: Oh. Yeah. I guess that could happen.
      Archer: Point is, you come out of the john waving this around, nobody's gonna bug you for a tip.
    • In "Swiss Miss", Archer must guard a German billionaire's daughter, Anka (who keeps making sexual advances at him). A terrorist bursts in, disguised as room service. Archer uses an aerosol spray and a candle to set the terrorist on fire.
  • DC Nation: The Bat Man of Shanghai opens with Catwoman posing as one.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: In "Go Away, Ghost Ship," Scooby, Fred, and Daphne hide in a service cart while Shaggy and Velma are dressed as a high-rise penthouse room service so they can get in to see a troubled shipping magnate.