- “Did you hear that?! We're in! We're not so lame!”
- ―Zack to Cody
"Hotel Hangout" is the pilot episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Zack and Cody make friends with two low-rankers (Max and Tapeworm) in their school, but they later abandon them for the "Drew Crew", the so-called cool kids.
Zack and Cody Martin live in the Tipton Hotel, with their mother, Zack and Cody tell Carey of their problems making friends at their new school, Buckner Middle School. Carey embarrasses them by dancing in the lobby of the hotel; when Zack copies her, he accidentally knocks over a large vase. Esteban catches it just in time.
At school, Zack and Cody attempt to impress the Drew Crew, who laugh at them. Max and Tapeworm, who were standing close by, reassures the twins, who end up inviting them back to the hotel after school. They discover that Max is a very good dancer, who offers to teach Carey some moves for her show.
The next day, Drew comes up to the twins and asks if they really live at the Tipton. Zack and Cody say that they do and invite Drew's Crew to the hotel.
At the hotel later on, the Drew Crew help themselves to the food at a buffet table, while Zack and Cody look on, impressed. When Max and Tapeworm arrive, they get laughed at. Mr. Moseby, the hotel manager, comes over and says that the buffet table is for guests only. Zack and Cody take their new friends to the roof, where they are served ice cream. In their hurry, they bump into Mr. Moseby, who knocks over Esteban who is standing on a ladder fixing a light. Esteban ends up swinging from the chandelier and eventually falls on top of Mr. Moseby. In return for saving his life, Esteban agrees to get rid of Zack and Cody's friends from the hotel.
After bullying Max and Tapeworm, Drew encourages Zack and Cody to ditch them. Zack agrees, thinking that they won't be cool if they hang out with Max and Tapeworm; Cody is unsure, not wanting to succumb to peer pressure. In the end, though, he is persuaded.
While hanging out in the games room, Esteban arrives to tel Zack and Cody to get rid of the Drew Crew. Zack manages to get everyone to leave the games room by mentioning the St. Mark's Hotel across the street.
Meanwhile, Cody heads up to the roof and tries to get the Drew Crew to leave. When they refuse, Zack joins Cody and tries to persuade them. Drew leaves but not before he throws the basketball away. It hits the aerial and it falls from the roof.
In the lobby, Carey and Mr. Moseby see the aerial swinging dangerously in front of the hotel. Up on the roof, Zack and Cody are holding on to the wire, trying to lift the aerial back up. Max and Tapeworm arrive, having seen the argument between the twins and the Drew Crew. Zack and Cody apologise for ditching them and Max and Tapeworm help with the aerial.
Carey appears and rushes to help. After telling the boys off, they let go of the wire, as do Max and Tapeworm. Carey ends up crouching on the wall, trying hard to hold on to the aerial; she complains about her inappropriate choice of shoes.
Zack and Cody's punishment for nearly destroying the hotel is to clean the Jaccuzi with their toothbrushes while Max and Tapeworm relax.
Meanwhile, heiress London Tipton (whose father owns the hotel) is failing her lessons at school and will be grounded if she flunks. Mr. Moseby asks Maddie, the candy counter girl, to tutor London and while reluctant at first, Maddie agrees when she is offered triple her salary to do it.
Whilst tutoring London, Maddie tells her about her crush on Lance, the lifeguard. London tells her to play it cool and she will get a date, which she does. However, it ends badly when Maddie finds out that all Lance can talk about is water. London gets a D+ on her Math test and doesn't have to be punished as she just about passed.
- This is the first episode of the series. Originally, "Grounded on the 23rd Floor" was slated to be the pilot, but it was eventually moved to later in the season.
- Tapeworm and Max claim that there's no space for them after everyone huddles by the jacuzzi; however, when the camera pans out you can see that a whole other side of the jacuzzi is clear of people.