The demise of room service may be exaggerated.
Sure, it's true that hotels appear to be scaling back or eliminating options. The New York Hilton Midtown made the news last week for its plans to discontinue its food and drink service to rooms in August. It follows in the footsteps of Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, which did so last fall.
Nationwide, according to Smith Travel Research, there are 2.7 million limited-service hotel rooms (i.e., those without an on-site restaurant or banquet facilities), up 16 percent from a decade ago. In comparison, there are 2.2 million full-service rooms, up less than 6 percent over the same period.
It's no surprise—room service isn't profitable, said Robert Mandelbaum, director of research information services for PKF Hospitality Research. In 2012, room service accounted for just 1.22 percent of a typical hotel's revenue, according to the firm. Even though hotels had more guests that year than in 2009, when occupancy hit a low, those guests ordered 25 percent less overall.
But no "room service" doesn't mean that hungry travelers have no recourse. "Very few people are going to find that they absolutely can't get something to eat if they want something to eat, at the hotel, in their room," said Ed Perkins,contributing editor for SmarterTravel.com, a travel-advice site.