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By Deb Landau — Cole Haan BRANDVOICE
Whether traveling for business or pleasure, today’s savvy travelers have come to expect some technology basics in their hotels — bedside USB plugs, teched-out fitness centers and keyless card entry systems. Lightning-fast Wi-Fi is as essential as an in-room hair dryer. And electrical outlets are like free chocolates on your pillow — the more the better.
But some hotels take tech a little further, from room-service robots to facial-recognition room keys, space-capsule décor to body-temperature climate control.
Here’s a look at nine of the world’s most tech-forward hotels:
1. Hotel Zetta — San Francisco, USA
Located in San Francisco’s cool SoMa (south of Market Street) neighborhood, Hotel Zetta packs a tech punch — and a strong commitment to fun. A virtual reality cube in the lobby offers guests a chance to don VR headsets and check out underwater adventures or action games. Rooms have a G-Link video streaming station, so guests can connect their phone’s Netflix app to the giant flat-screen TV on the wall. The fitness center has high-tech treadmills and ellipticals, while the playroom has a Wii station. And staff members use Alice, a software solution that helps the concierge create personalized, curated experiences for guests.
2. Henn-na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay – Tokyo, Japan
Known as “the robot hotel,” the Henn-na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay is entirely staffed by robots. Front desk receptionists are multilingual robotic dinosaurs (yes, dinosaurs; after all, “henn-na” translates to “weird”), and the bellhops are robotic carts that operate via touch-screen commands. Rooms here don’t even have light switches; instead, guests communicate with Tuly, a Hello-Kitty-esque doll that sits on the bedside table and serves as a personal robot concierge. Room temp is controlled by sensors that detect body heat and adjust accordingly.
3. Loews Hotel 1000 Seattle – Seattle, USA
When the Loews Hotel 1000 Seattle opened in 2006, it was the first hotel to have its own high-speed network, which allowed it to build smart systems throughout the building. In the heart of tech-savvy — and often rainy — downtown Seattle, the 1000 has a virtual reality golf club, so guests can hit balls at more than 50 world-class golf courses without ever putting on a raincoat. Rooms are jacked with media hubs, and there’s a VoIP phone system so guests can make free calls to anywhere in the world. Heat-detection sensors control the climate and let housekeeping staff know whether or not a room is occupied — no more “Do Not Disturb” signs required.
4. Yotel NYC – New York City, USA
Anyone who’s visited New York City knows most hotel rooms are tiny and cost a year’s worth of Ubers. Yotel NYC realizes this, too — and offers shrewd travelers something different. With 713 petite “cabin” rooms, the Yotel is all about simplicity and function. Guests get free, zippy Wi-Fi, touch-screen reception spits out room keys, and the Yobot — a giant factory-worthy hydraulic arm — manages luggage storage. In the rooms, adjustable smart beds sandwich up by day and stretch out at night. Yotel is perfect for the traveler who wants an affordable, clean place to crash in a great Midtown location.
5. W Singapore At Sentosa Cove – Singapore
Guests zip around on Segways and follow the LED lights twinkling throughout the lush and luxurious W Singapore at Sentosa Cove, an island resort in the heart of Singapore. The property features artwork by the likes of Andy Warhol and an outdoor pool with 24 underwater speakers pumping out techno. Guests can get into their rooms via their smartphone or Apple Watch. Rooms are sleek and colorful, with 40-inch flat-screen TVs, Bose surround sound and air temperature sensors. The 2,100-square-foot Extreme Wow Suite rocks with its own DJ spinning booth.
6. City Hub – Amsterdam, Netherlands
A chic, modern and super-convenient take on the old-school youth hostel, CityHub is part hotel, part tech heaven. Guests download the CityHub app and check in via kiosks in the lobby where they get a wristband that will open their individual pod. Use the wristband to get coffee, beer and vending machine items — all of which will go on your credit card. Rooms are actually private sleep pods, where the lights, music and temperature are controlled via the app. Showers, bathrooms and a hangout area are all communal, but clean and modern. Guests also get a portable Wi-Fi box, so they can walk around town using their phones without racking up roaming charges.
7. Eccleston Square Hotel – London, England
In the heart of Westminster, just doors down from Winston Churchill’s childhood home, the splendid Eccleston Square Hotel is a historic boutique hotel jam-packed with high-tech amenities. Each room has a giant plasma TV with a 3D DVD library, an iPad to control climate and surround sound, and a luxurious Hästens massage bed. The coolest thing? Each room comes with a complimentary cellphone with free calls and web browsing on a 4G network.
8. Virgin Hotels Chicago – Chicago, USA
It’s all about fun and convenience at Virgin Hotels Chicago, where Lucy, a free mobile app, runs the show. Guests check in using a QR code that lets them pick up their room key from a vending machine. Lucy can help order room service, control room temp and music, and even plan a tour of the city. Rooms are split into two “chambers” — one for sleep and one for getting ready.
9. NH Collection Berlin Mitte Friedrichstrasse – Berlin, Germany
With the bustle of Berlin just outside the front doors, the tranquil, teched-out bliss of the NH Collection Berlin Mitte Friedrichstrasse is a welcome refuge. All rooms have 46-inch flat screens and satellite TV, and those traveling with kids can take advantage of the hotel’s family-friendly Junior Suites. In true modern fashion, dogs are also welcome. And there are plenty of public places to relax with the hotel’s abundant Wi-Fi — while customers use one of the hotel’s EV stations to charge their electric cars outside.
Deb Landau is a writer, editor and producer who has traveled through many intersections of publishing — from writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet Publications to running a digital magazine. She is an outdoor enthusiast and lives in Portland, Oregon.
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