By Jacqueline Gifford
September 25, 2013

When the New York Hilton Midtown—the city’s largest hotel, at nearly 2,000 rooms—announced in January that it was doing away with room service, people were shocked. The reality: Hilton saw that today’s traveler preferred a quick meal at a reasonable price, and room service was losing money. It was time for a change.

Enter Herb N’Kitchen, the hotel's new lobby dining outlet, open from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m. It’s like an upscale grab-and-go cafeteria, offering everything from made to order gluten-free corn arepas to Pat La Frieda cheeseburgers. Also for sale: bottles of wine and locally made snacks, such as Tumbador chocolate-covered animal crackers from Brooklyn. In the adjoining room (which feels more like a restaurant), guests can have a hot buffet breakfast, or just enjoy their takeaway treats. And food from Herb N’Kitchen can be delivered to the room—it just comes in a paper bag.

Other hotels have taken similar strides: The Public Chicago uses paper bags for their room service (though the menu itself was done by Jean Georges Vongerichten). Affinia Hotels, a company with five properties in New York, now has a partnership with Fresh Direct, so guests can order ready-to-make meals. Our prediction? Look for other hotel brands to tap into the casual, self-service dining trend in 2014.

Jacqueline Gifford is senior editor at Travel + Leisure.