Grand Hilton Seoul
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The Reason Why Desks are Being Eliminated From Hotel Rooms?

A  new concept for a hotel brand was unveiled by Hilton Worldwide back in January of this year called Tru by Hilton, which — among other features — has no work desks in guest rooms.

My response was that “I would prefer a work desk in the room — even though I could probably do without one.” The primary use of the desk in a hotel room for me is to work on my laptop computer; with a secondary use being a place to eat if I either bring food into the room or order room service, which is rare for me.

The Reason Why Desks are Being Eliminated From Hotel Rooms?

Apparently the reason why desks are being eliminated from hotel rooms in the future is because of — you guessed it — money; but not necessarily saving money on the cost of the desks themselves.

“The move away from a guestroom desk lowers the cost to build a property, allowing for smaller guestrooms that still feel spacious. The typical Tru by Hilton room measures 231 square feet for a king-sized bed room, and 285 square feet for a double queen room”, according to this article written by Glenn Haussman for USA TODAY. “This same philosophy drove Red Lion Hotels Corporation to forgo guestroom desks as a standard feature of its year-old Hotel RL brand.”

Because of access to the Internet via Wi-Fi — which is becoming more accessible to guests as more lodging companies such as Hilton Worldwide are offering it as a complimentary feature included with the room rate — a static desk with a port to connect to the Internet is supposedly no longer required…

…although I would argue that electrical outlets are still important in order to charge portable electronic devices; but they do not need to be by a physical desk either — at least, in theory.

A Generation Gap?

A similar trend has been occurring within the past year or so with hotel properties of Marriott International, Incorporated. Many FlyerTalk members have opined that they prefer desks in their hotel rooms on which to work — but the division amongst FlyerTalk members in the aforementioned discussion as to whether or not they want or need a desk in their rooms on which to work appears to be generational: older FlyerTalk members generally prefer a desk; whereas younger ones are fine without one.

“What idiots!” exclaimed FlyerTalk member DL-Don in the aforementioned discussion. “I’m in my fifties… I don’t work on my computer cross legged in the bed.”

FlyerTalk member jlb3 has a different point of view: “So I’m a millennial travel and frequently get these Marriott surveys. I always say I have no need of a desk or chair – because I don’t.”

There appears to be a compromise: “We are really not eliminating desks, but evolving work surfaces into a new guestroom design that appeals to consumer behaviors,” Matthew Carroll — who is the vice president of global brand management for Marriott Hotels and Resorts — said in the aforementioned article. “It is about having purposeful, flexible work surfaces in the room that prompt focused work or relaxing work.”

Still, the generation gap seems to be supported by this quote: “Our target guest doesn’t want to sit in the guestroom and work,” Alexandra Jaritz — who is the global head of Tru by Hilton — said in the aforementioned article. “They are working on beds many times, and our research has shown they would prefer to work in a vibrant social space when they need to spread out.”

So who is correct?


Hotel brands — such as Hampton Inn by Hilton — do offer a hard flat surface on which to work. It is typically a rigid board with a spongy support underneath the board on each side, designed for working either while laying down in bed or sitting in a chair. There is usually a remote control for the television placed on top of it; along with a plastic card containing a guide for the available channels on the television and straps which stretch to hold down cards and other flat items.

Hampton Inn Chester board on bed
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

I never use this board. Hampton Inn hotel properties are usually furnished with a desk, which I prefer to use.

As a guest at the Aloft Seoul Gangnam hotel in South Korea, I have also seen what appears to be a portable desk of sorts, which is light enough for anyone to move around the room…

Aloft Seoul Gangnam
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…despite the fact that the room is equipped with a nice roomy desk by a window with a port and ample universal electrical outlets where a converter is not needed.

Aloft Seoul Gangnam
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

As I opined earlier, I would prefer a work desk in the room — even though I could probably do without one. In addition to the other uses which I already mentioned in this article, sometimes the desk can act as a place with a hard surface to temporarily store items — I carry a soft bag whenever I travel — as opposed to placing any soft items on a bed in case any bed bugs might be lurking, as I impart in this article on how to prevent bed bugs from coming home with you.

I personally do not mind staying in a smaller room — as long as it is comfortable, functional, secure, and delivers value for the money I spend.

What is your preference as a guest in a hotel room: would you prefer one furnished with a desk; or are you just fine without one?

All photographs ©2014 and ©2016 by Brian Cohen.


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