As guest habits change, New York hotel clears away room service

Sat Jun 8, 2013 7:05am EDT
 
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By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Soon, the black-uniformed waiters wheeling trolleys of food will disappear from the halls of the Hilton Midtown. Will visitors to New York City's largest hotel mind having to leave their rooms for sustenance?

For some, a hotel without room service made no sense.

"You're on holiday, you're away, you like being waited on," said Claire Avery, a prison clerk from New South Wales, Australia, who was staying at the Hilton with her boyfriend. "Sometimes you don't even have to move."

If she returns later in the summer, she will have to move at least as far as the lobby, where the hotel is building a self-service food market to replace room service.

The New York Hilton Midtown, a 2,000-room hotel in Manhattan's commercial district filled with business travelers, tourists and conference-goers, confirmed this week that it would end room service. A Hilton spokesman, Mark Ricci, said up to 55 employees could lose their jobs.

Hilton officials said the move - which is highly unusual for a full-service hotel - was prompted by cutbacks in spending by business travelers, many of whom face tight expense-account rules, and the changing tastes of leisure travelers, who already pay rates at the Hilton that start at about $240 per night before taxes, going up to more than twice that.

The change appealed to Aakriti Gupta, a recent college graduate from New Delhi visiting New York with her mother, who pointed out that the idea of room service doesn't always match the reality.

"The existing room service isn't great," she said. "If you ordered it once, I don't think you would order it again. We ordered a pizza that was $55." She added, unhappily, that it was delivered in a box.   Continued...

 
An exterior shot of the Hilton Midtown in New York June 7, 2013. The New York Hilton Midtown, a 2,000-room hotel in Manhattan's commercial district filled with business travelers, tourists and conference-goers, confirmed this week that it would end room service. Picture taken June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly