Traveling with a Food Allergy | How I Find a Gluten-Free Friendly Hotel
Hi loves! This week I’m planning a trip with my friend for later this year. Traveling for me means extensive research into the hotel options beforehand to find out which one can cater to my gluten intolerance. How to pick a hotel when traveling with a food allergy is something I have learned through trial and error over several years. I thought it might be helpful to people with dietary restrictions if I share how I research and choose a hotel.
Since I am gluten intolerant, I will be using gluten-free (GF) as the example food allergy for this post. Replace gluten-free with whatever allergy, intolerance, or dietary restriction you have to make these tips work for you.
RESEARCHING THE LOCATION
Once I have chosen a location for my vacation, I do a bit of Googling to find out how gluten-free friendly the city is before I research hotels. I will use Paris as the example city and French as the example language. Replace my examples with the city and native language of your destination to make the search terms work for you:
Is Paris gluten-free friendly
How gluten-free friendly is Paris
What is the word for gluten-free in French
Is Paris (word for GF in native language) friendly
How (word for GF in native language) friendly is Paris
Gluten-free hotels Paris
(zip code of hotel) food delivery service - (search available websites and apps for GF options)
Gluten-free blog Paris
Common dishes French Cuisine - ( Some cuisines are naturally GF friendly. Occasionally, I run into the case where there aren’t many search results for GF in a city, but there are many GF options because the cuisine has naturally GF dishes.)
If many results appear, this can be an indication the city is gluten-free friendly. Look for significant publications that have written about GF in your city (exclude trip advisor). When larger publications write about GF, it is a good indication that GF is mainstream enough to warrant that post. For example, on the first page of search results for “gluten-free London,” there are posts by Timeout and Forbes.
Comparing the amount of quality results you get for the city you are researching to results you find when doing the same search of a city you know is GF friendly can also help you gage the level of how GF friendly the city is.
If you are struggling to find results, this is an indication the city is probably not super GF friendly (unless the cuisine of the location is naturally GF).
CHOOSING WHERE TO STAY
Now that I have an idea of how easy it will be to find GF food on my vacation, I take one of the two options below:
1. Book any hotel. The more gluten-free friendly the city is, the less I think about where I stay. If I find out the place I am going to is similar to London or New York, there is no need to research if the hotel can provide GF food. There are food delivery services (like UberEats) that can deliver what I need. (Also, a great tip for saving on overpriced room service)
2. Find a GF friendly hotel. For cities that are not as GF friendly, I call the hotels before booking if I cannot find the hotel restaurant menus online. I also recommend doing this when breakfast is included in the room rate, for all-inclusive resorts, or the location is an island or a place where the hotel is the only source of food in the area.
WHAT TO ASK WHEN CALLING A HOTEL
Asking the right questions is vital when calling a hotel where you want to stay. I learned the hard way not to take “yes we have gluten-free options” as sufficient information to go ahead with the booking. The questions below are my go to questions to make sure I have enough GF options for all the meals throughout my trip. You can ask all or a combination of some of the questions below:
Do you have gluten-free options?
Can you email me the room service/restaurant menu? (Not everyone will, but many do if you have a food allergy, so it doesn’t hurt to ask)
Can you give a few examples of GF dishes available for breakfast/lunch/dinner? (If they will not email the menu)
Are your GF options available at the restaurant and for room service?
Does your late night room service menu have GF options? (Many hotels limit the late night menu. Make sure you have at least one choice in case you get back to the hotel late in the night)
If breakfast is included in the room rate: Are gluten-free options available in the included breakfast, or will there be extra charges?
When you are calling hotels, be super friendly and let them know they have quite a few questions coming their way. A little compliment about the hotel can sometimes go a long way in how helpful they will be.