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New York Hilton abolishes room service, but flourishes elsewhere

by Michael Zehender, dpa

The Hilton Midtown hotel in New York recently announced that it is discontinuing room service because of falling demand.

From now on instead of being able to order food to be delivered to their rooms, guests will have to go to a self-service counter in the foyer. A similar change was implemented at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort last year.

However, the demise of room service hasn’t become a global trend – at least not yet. In Germany for example demand for it is still strong. A spokeswoman for Hilton said there are currently no plans to bring the New York concept to Germany.

According to the German Hotel Association, the IHA, 5,262 of the 8,585 classified hotels in the country offer room service, including many hotels classified below four stars.

The IHA regards the US development with scepticism.

”A mini-market in the foyer won’t replace room service,” said an IHA spokeswoman.

Whether room service comes as part of the room price or is a paid extra varies across the hotel chains in Germany.

In Mercure hotels it’s free, for breakfast at least, while in Maritim Hotels there’s a 3-euro (4-dollar) surcharge. In the Best Western chain, each hotel sets the surcharge individually.

There are clear guidelines on what room service in Germany should offer. Five-star hotels are required to offer 24-hour room service for food and drinks while in four-star facilities, food must be offered till 10 pm and drinks around the clock. However, a minibar can suffice for this.

Room service is generally ordered either via a special number or by the guest calling reception.

Berlin’s Adlon hotel is currently testing iPads. Guests can use the tablets to order room service directly from their rooms.

Guests generally have to give staff a little lead time. In the Adlon, the rule of thumb is that guests shouldn’t have to wait longer than 30 minutes. Pre-ordering isn’t necessary.