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Hello? Is the Hotel Room Phone Still There? | Frommer's Arrive Hotels

Hello? Is the Hotel Room Phone Still There?

Hotels are hanging up on in-room phones to cut costs and be more environmentally friendly. Are you ready to unplug for your next hotel stay?
At the Arrive Hotel in Palm Springs, a new boutique hotel in the glam desert resort town, the 32 good-looking guestrooms feature plenty of high-tech amenities such as 50” HDTVs equipped with DirecTV, Apple TV and soundbar speakers, along with seriously speedy free Wi-Fi and even automated window shades.

But there's one standard amenity that’s missing: the room phone. That’s because Arrive wants its guests to text for whatever they need—using their own smartphones. 
Hotels texting guests is something that’s been percolating for a couple of years thanks to the rise of smartphones. Marriott International has enabled this feature within its mobile app, while other big hotel brands like Hilton, InterContinental Hotel Group, and Starwood Hotels, offer on-demand request functions through their own apps, too.

For the past few years, the hotel telephone has been increasingly ignored by guests, in part because most of them carry smartphones but also because of they're tired of paying over-inflated rates every time they pick up the receiver. But doing away with the room phone entirely is a new trend in the industry.
Kurt Englund, managing partner of Arrive, said the hotel begins texting with guests from the moment of booking, when guests receive a message confirmation of their stay. The SMS relationship continues to arrival, throughout the stay, and to check-out—no phones are involved. Anything the guests need, whether it be room service, housekeeping, or sightseeing recommendations, guests are instructed to simply text or call the hotel’s phone with their own device.

Can you tell what's missing? (Arrive Hotel, Palm Springs)

The shift means that the guest, and not the hotel, bears the cost for communication. As per Arrive's FAQ, customers are responsible for paying standard text messaging rates for outgoing messages, but the hotel doesn’t charge them for texting replies. (Phew.) 
1 Hotels, the eco-conscious luxury brand with properties in Miami Beach and New York, have also done away with the traditional room phone in an effort, it says, to minimize its environmental impact. Instead, nightstands in 1 Hotel rooms are equipped with Nexus devices that are pre-loaded with an in-house app that serves as telephone, remote control, and guide to the neighborhood. Guests can make Wi-Fi phone calls on this device as well as text the hotel for various services within the hotel app. 
Other hotel brands are cutting costs by cutting the cord. Some Travelodge Hotels in the United Kingdom have also forgone the room phone as an unnecessary expense. Moxy Hotels, a new cheap-and-chic hotel brand from Marriott, opened its first property at Milan’s Malpensa airport last year without phones or other communication devices in the rooms, meaning guests had to walk downstairs to make requests. 

But tellingly, Moxy’s newest hotels built in the United States (in Tempe, Arizona and New Orleans) will still have in-room phones, signaling that at least for the mainstream U.S. market, the hotel of the future may not be ready to give up this old-school device quite yet. 

But hang on—your hotel may hang up on old-fashioned phones soon.