NY Hilton Ditches Room Service, Others Expected to Follow Suit

Editor
Experts say few hotels make money from room service
Wikimedia/Michael Plutchok

Nothing makes a person feel like a fancy, fancy lady like lounging around one’s suite in New York’s biggest hotel, wearing a plush bathrobe while a waiter wheels in a tablecloth-covered room service cart with a $25 order of eggs Benedict under a silver dome. And as long as we’re fantasizing, let’s say there’s a bottle of chilled Champagne in an ice bucket as well. But that fantasy is about to come to an end, because the New York Hilton Midtown announced that it would be killing its room service in the hotel after this summer, and experts say other hotels are expected to do the same.

“The Hilton property on Sixth Avenue, between West 53rd and West 54th streets, will open a downmarket grab-and-go restaurant this summer called Herb n' Kitchen, a cafeteria-style eatery that will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Crain’s New York’s Lisa Fickenscher reports. That downmarket cafeteria will be replacing room service as part of a larger initiative to simplify foodservice across the hotel chain.

Room service is an indulgent part of a hotel experience that many people look forward to, but in general most hotels say they lose money at it.

"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 Crain's New York. "I'm sure all the big hotels will be looking at what Hilton is doing."

Eliminating room service at the Hilton Midtown is expected to eliminate about 55 jobs.

The one issue where hotels might expect to see some pushback from guests is that with no room service, there will be no more breakfast in bed. Many people are very attached to that service, but Fox says he doesn’t think hotels will suffer for eliminating it because most people wouldn’t opt not to stay at a hotel just because it doesn’t have room service.

The nearby Marriott Marquis, however, still offers room service until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., and a spokesperson told Crain’s that the hotel did not plan to eliminate the service.

"Room service is very important at breakfast time," the Marriott spokesperson told Crain’s. "It is not a huge profit center, but if you are a hotel of a certain brand or category, it's something you provide."

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