Room service used dishes and glasses on cart in hallway
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

No More Room Service? I Still Say Good Riddance

B arbara Delollis posted a poll earlier today asking whether or not upscale hotels should reinvent room service after the New York Hilton Midtown had reportedly declared its streamlined room service experiment to be a “financial success.”

On June 7, 2013, I expressed in my opinion in this article in bidding good riddance to traditional room service for the following reasons:

  • Room service is expensive
    • The food items are usually overpriced
    • The price does not include service charges and gratuities
  • The food is usually not great
  • The portions are typically small
  • The order is not always delivered in a timely manner


In other words, I can usually get better food at a lower cost if I am willing to get it myself or have it delivered to my room from a source outside of the hotel property — that is, if any place is open if it happens to be at a late hour.

My opinion was controversial at the time. Peter Gunn of The Lobby weblog over at FlyerTalk wrote a rebuttal criticizing my opinion and defending room service, declaring that it is “essential” and saying that “eating a burger while watching SportsCenter in a bathrobe after taking a hot shower is one of life’s great pleasures.”

Well, gee, Peter — I can do that in the dumpiest of motels if I pick up said burger at a fast food joint and pack a bathrobe in my luggage. I do not need room service at a luxury hotel property to experience that “great pleasure” of life.

When I was 20 years old, I stopped at a McDonald’s restaurant in Tucson, Arizona and picked up a sackful of hamburgers and brought it back to my room at a Motel 6 during a trip of driving from Seattle to San Antonio on a college budget in a borrowed car. It may sound seedy now; but I thought that was pretty cool back then. I did not sit there wishing that I had room service after driving all day from the San Diego area.

Look — I get it that while on business and arriving at a hotel room late, you do not want to fool around with first searching for a restaurant or take-out place. Room service suddenly takes on a whole new meaning of convenience — and it certainly does not hurt when it is expensed on the company budget. I have been there. I have done that. Many times, in fact…

…but I still felt that the food was overpriced and not satisfying. Sometimes the hot food arrived cold. Many times the quality was not great…

…and don’t get me started on when the order was incorrect. That opened up a whole new set of issues — including not wanting to wait for the order to be corrected at 12:45 in the morning when I had a meeting which I was required to attend early the next day.

In my opinion, the room service model had been broken for many years. Sure, there were exceptions — but often too few and far between.

I have not yet tried a concept such as Herb n’ Kitchen — an on-site cafeteria-style “grab-and-go” sort of restaurant which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown hotel property — but if it offers better food at lower prices to hotel guests while being financially viable for the hotel property, then I believe that it should be given a chance…

…because much of the time, virtually anything is better than traditional room service, in my opinion.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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