Major hotels chains are reducing or dropping room service altogether

Is it just a matter of time before you will no longer be able to order that late-night burger and fries delivered to your hotel room, served atop crisp white linens? 

This summer, New York Hilton Midtown, in the heart of Times Square, will discontinue room service, in a move that some industry experts say is just the tip of the iceberg.

The New York Times reports that the 2,000-room Hilton is laying off 55 workers and introducing a cafeteria-style grab-and-go restaurant as a replacement, citing a decline in the demand for in-room dining. This follows a similar move made by The Hilton Hawaiian Village, which was the first to completely eliminate the service.

“I think it’s dehumanizing the service,” Michael Henry, 78, a Jamaican author and publisher told the Times.“It’s what I call catering to the lowest common denominator.”

Hilton isn't the only chain that has seen a reduced need for room service. Crains reports that The Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street has reduced room service hours, introducing a 24-hour market as an alternative.  Ian Schrager's Public, in Chicago, also scaled back, replacing traditional room service with a brown paper bag delivery that is simply left outside of guests' rooms.

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"I don't think anyone makes a profit on room service because of its labor costs," John Fox, senior vice president of PKF Consulting told Crains, adding, "I'm sure all the big hotels will be looking at what Hilton is doing."

Anne Banas, executive editor at Smarter Travel,  told that the move doesn't necessarily mean a reduction in a customer's food choices.

"It’s not the worst thing in the world. There are so many better options for getting food, especially since room service tends to be way overpriced for what you get. Those who  appreciate the convenience of room service could always have food delivered to the hotel from a nearby restaurant instead, which also gives you an opportunity to sample more local fare.”