The New York Hilton Midtown Hotel will observe two milestones this summer: its 50th anniversary in June and, in August, the end of room service.
The 1,980-room hotel, New York City's largest, isn't the first hotel to discontinue that amenity, but it's probably the biggest. It's all part of a lodging industry trend to cut the frills and concentrate on basic service—a trend that the airlines pioneered with the introduction of controversial fees.
Around the nation and across the globe, hotels are curtailing such extras as business centers, minibars, bellhops, doormen and even traditional front desks for checking in. Yotel New York in Midtown Manhattan, for instance, asks guests to check themselves in at kiosks in the hotel's "Ground Control." And if their rooms aren't ready, Yotel's guests check their suitcases with a robotic baggage storage system.
Among the reasons behind this no-frills trend is cost control. By eliminating room service, for example, the Hilton Midtown will cut 55 workers from its staff. And room service isn't much of a money-maker anyway, representing only about 1.2 percent of the industry's revenues.
But if travelers are willing to do without such things as $30 hamburgers personally delivered to their rooms on linen-covered trays, what is it that they want instead? Ask most people, and you'll routinely hear requests for free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, and free parking.
Some hotels and resorts are hearing those rumbles. The 93-room Quail Lodge, a golf resort in Carmel, California, just reopened after a three-year renovation and leaped right into both trends—that is, cutting low-revenue frills but at the same time offering the perks that most people want. How so? By eliminating room service, doormen, and bellhops, and offering—you guessed it—free breakfast, Internet, and parking.
Perks and frills, or back to basics: which hotels do you prefer?
Related: Best Money-Saving Hotel Tips