Robert Scoble thinks that search sucks. He's got some interesting ideas about how it could be improved, but there's a larger question raised of just how fine grained general search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN should be. I think his hotel example is playing to his point a little. If I want to find a hotel in New York my first thought would be to type in hotels in New York City, or more obviously go to Local Google or Local Yahoo and type in hotels in New York City, NY. Those deliver different results. By typing in new york hotel I think he was intentionally trying to pull up noisy data.
In my first search I was able to find the site Trip Advisor in the top 10 which gave pretty detailed information about hotels in specific areas with good customer reviews. That's where search succeeds now—it couldn't tell me the hotel I wanted, but it could find me another site that could. Google pointed me in the direction of a more expert site. To use a traditional metaphor, what is the goal of a search engine—to be the entire library? To be a librarian that has all the answers? Or to be a general librarian that knows which special collections librarian to point you to?
There are so many industries and areas of knowledge out there that adding the level of detail that Scoble is suggesting would weigh a search engine down considerably. Still, adding some interaction in the results on a basic level could improve existing search, but I don't think people are looking for complexity. When was the last time you used the advanced search?