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The Elimination of Room Service, Top Sheets, and More: Worrisome Changes Coming to a Hotel Near You

Those over the age of 45 will remember when flying was a glamorous, or at least an amenity-laden activity. Attractive flight attendants would flit up and down the aisles, delivering meals, snacks, pillows and blankets, with nary a thought of charging the passenger extra for these, well, extras.

Those days are long gone, of course, and thanks to recent developments in the hotel industry it looks like many amenities there are, or could be, disappearing.

Take room service. Last week, the largest hotel in New York City, the New York Hilton, announced it was ditching rooms service (customers would be asked to buy food in the lobby instead). It could be the first of many to do so. It turns out, according to experts at the recent International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference at NYU in early June, that room service is a money-loser for many hotels. So when it comes to the development of new properties in North America, hotels without this amenity are up 16% in the past decade, as opposed to “full-service” hotels, which are up just 5.7%, according to Smith Travel Research.  Moral? If you want that breakfast in bed, check with your hotel that it offers this perk.

Top sheets are another amenity that I, personally, miss. Seems like an ever-increasing number of hotels are replacing the top sheet with a duvet, meaning the sleeper has few options when the room is just a tad too chilly or a tad too warm. The top of the bed is either on, or off; or you do what I’ve resorted to, and end up covering yourself with towels from the bathroom and/or extra clothes from your suitcase. Frankly, I have no information on whether the upkeep of duvets is cheaper for hotels than the upkeep of top sheets. I suspect the switch has more to do with fashion than utility.

The last trend is an odd one that my colleague Jason Cochran found recently. It was posted on Instagram. There, a user named @ZachHonig posted a picture of his hotel bathroom mirror, when he returned to his room at the end of the day. What was odd about it? Apparently, the management of the Westin Hotel in LA sold the space there to Xbox (an electronics convention was going on), and pasted across the mirror was an advertisement for that gadget!  When we blogged about this odd money making scheme on, a user named Jack Ryan said that his hotel mirror had also been shanghaied in this fashion recently, so this isn’t an isolated incident.

 What’s next for hotels? Have you found any worrisome changes we've missed?