What’s your idea of luxury?
If it’s a fancy breakfast on silver platters wheeled into your $300 a night hotel room, you could be out of luck.
New York City’s largest hotel, the nearly 2,000-room New York Hilton Midtown, is planning to eliminate room service this summer.
It’s still too early to tell if the Hilton Midtown’s decision is the start of a trend in the lodging industry, but the move does appear to reflect the reality of current economic conditions.
“Like most full-service hotels, New York Hilton Midtown has continued to see a decline in traditional room service requests over the last several years as customer preferences and expectations continue to evolve,” New York Hilton Midtown representative told Cable News Network (CNN).
Hilton says the move will eliminate 55 jobs.
But guests will not have to go hungry, far from it.
In place of room service, the Hilton Midtown plans to roll out a cafeteria-style restaurant called Herb n’ Kitchen, offering dining options such as flatbread pizzas, sandwiches and gourmet coffee, CNN said.
Self-service dining options are becoming more and more accepted and common throughout the industry, Mark Woodworth, president of the hotel consulting firm PKF Hospitality Research, told CNN.
“More and more consumers prefer to help themselves to what they need, and the increased use of automated check-in/check-out kiosks and complementary buffets are common examples of this,” he said.
“If management is providing a service that, at best, is only marginally valued by the guest, then there is a strong motivation to end such a practice.”
And the Hilton Midtown is not the chain’s first property to eliminate room service.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village stopped offering it in the fall, and replaced the service with less formal takeout and delivery options, CNN said.
In 2012, room service revenue represented 1.2% of total hotel revenue, down from 1.3% the year before, CNN said.
Travel + Leisure News Editor Amy Farley told CNN that Hilton’s move could set a precedent for other hotels.
“Expectations for travelers evolve,” she said. “Two decades ago, it would have been unheard of for a major airline to not serve food, and now we’re used to taking our credit cards or bringing food with us.”
Other major New York hotels have taken different but related approaches, CNN said.
The Hudson Hotel in midtown Manhattan introduced Hudson Common Express, a burger joint that offers take-out and delivery, and the Grand Hyatt cut back room service hours and now offers a gourmet 24-hour market.
And it’s not just happening in New York, CNN said.
The Public Chicago hotel offers gourmet meals delivered in brown bags to guestrooms all day and night.
“This casualization of fine dining is partly due to the economy but it’s also a way that we’re evolving,” Farley said. “We know that we can have an excellent meal at a farmhouse table and this extends to hotels.”
The Hilton chain has no current plans to make such changes across the country, the New York hotel said.