Room service under threat as guests shun costs

Paloma Lucas Jambrina delivers food at the Radisson Blu, which has reported a drop in room service demand. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Paloma Lucas Jambrina delivers food at the Radisson Blu, which has reported a drop in room service demand. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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IT has long been one of life’s guilty pleasures, a luxury associated with high-flying business executives or debonair silver-screen characters such as James Bond.

Now the perk of room 
service is under threat across the Capital, with some of the city’s leading hotels conceding that guests are increasingly shying away from the extra charges associated with in-room dining.

Hotels ranging from the busy 238-room Radisson Blu on the Royal Mile to the smaller Old Waverley Hotel on Princes Street have reported a major drop in demand for room service orders in recent years.

The growing trend isn’t limited to the Capital, with one of New York’s finest boutique hotels, the New York Hilton Midtown, taking room service off the menu altogether this summer.

Industry leaders have blamed the growing trend on budget-conscious travellers and competition amongst cheap dining options in central Edinburgh.

Radisson Blu general 
manager Graeme Gibson said the four-star business had introduced popular takeaway 
food options to meet the changing needs of guests.

He said: “We constantly monitor guest trends and requirements and we’re probably seeing a greater need for freedom and choice from our guests these days.

“Some still want the traditional room service, others like to eat in our gastro pub, Itchycoo, and we’ve also introduced a ‘grab and go’ service for our guests on the move.”

Mr Gibson said he still saw “real value” in offering room service, but added: “In a city as vibrant as Edinburgh there’s a great array of food and drink choice for visitors to 
experience.”

Makek Sikora, front office manager with the Old Waverley Hotel, said room service orders were now rare outside of late-night revellers craving a midnight snack.

He said: “People are more likely to go to the bar and restaurant now. They want to see the process of food being prepared for them.

“You’ve got extra charges applied to your bill for room service. It’s related to people’s budget.”

Willie Macleod, Scotland executive director for the British Hospitality Association, said the spread of price comparison websites was a sign of how thrifty people had become.

He said: “Over the last five years in the UK as a result of the recession, customers are being much more careful about what they spend. People are either eating in the hotel restaurants or eating out.

“Consumers are very conscious about the rates they are paying for the hotel room and people who are travelling on business expenses are being told to pare their expenses back to the minimum.”