Room Service Dying a Well-Deserved Death in New York

| Mon Jun. 3, 2013 10:01 AM EDT

The New York Hilton Midtown plans to stop offering room service in August. Why? It's a money loser:

The decision to jettison room service at the New York Hilton, reported by Crain’s New York Business, comes as other large hotels have cut back menus or reduced hours in recent years, and many newer boutique hotels have opened without offering it at all. Some hotels have even made arrangements with nearby restaurants to act as surrogate kitchens and deliver food to their hotel rooms.

John Fox, a consultant for the hotel industry, said nearly all hotels lost money on room service, which requires maintaining a staff of waiters and kitchen workers throughout the day, even though orders typically dwindle after breakfast and come in sporadically afterward. “Everybody’s doing what they can to engineer their properties to make more profit while still supplying the services their guests demand,” he said.

I guess if you work in the hotel biz, this is common knowledge. But I didn't know this. I figured big hotels with in-house restaurants already had kitchens, so offering room service didn't cost that much as an add-on. Not so, apparently. In any case, this explains the fact that a small breakfast will run you something like $40 all-in at a New York hotel. That always seemed kind of crazy to me, but it makes sense if room service is really such an expensive operation to maintain.

I rarely ever used room service myself, and certainly not in New York, where decent food is never more than a block or two away. I won't miss it when it goes away completely.