Hotel rooms of the future


[image credit: Tihany Design]

I’m typing this en route to my fourth city in as many weeks and another hotel room away from the delights of my increasingly digital home. I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms and the more I look at them, the more I dream of waking up one morning in the hotel room of the future. I say dream because I was reading Departures recently in an airport lounge and stumbled across an article on just this topic.

It’s written by designer Adam Tihany who has designed 24 hotels in cities around the world and he decided to project on what a future hotel may look like. It includes such luxuries as an Eames chair that looks like the real thing but is sustainably manufactured and a robotic bartender who can make a perfect cocktail every time. Okay, both of those would be welcome additions but I’m thinking more about how technology could make my stay an enjoyable one.

On the technology front, Adam dreams of photovoltaic glass for windows, mirrors, television screens and interactive touchscreen and duly notes that this is already available. He also mentions a room where the color scheme can be transformed by organic LEDs woven into the ceiling fabric and controlled by announcing your mood – St Martin’s Lane hotel in London has a rudimentary version of this and the kids bedroom in the Microsoft Home video I shot recently takes thing further than that.

I want my experience to start even before I arrive at the hotel though. In the recent future vision video from our Office team, the concierge is seen to receive a message when the guest is en route that advises how many bags they have. Of course this is all down to personal choice and privacy but in most cases, speed is what I crave when I arrive at a hotel check in. The idea of arriving and being greeted by a concierge who knows I just got off a 5 hour flight, has booked me a massage, ordered my lunch and send my room key to my smartphone would be ideal. All of that is entirely possible today of course – though I haven’t seen anyone offering that level of experience.

Inside the room, there is so much opportunity to improve the experience. First up, how about handing each guest a personal Wi-Fi hotspot to use for the duration of their trip. I just bought a $50 per month Clear unit that will be give 4G access anywhere in the city (or the hotel for that matter) during my stay. If a hotel offered me one of those for $20 for a 3 day stay, I’d snap it up – and they’d make a killing by spreading that $50 cost across numerous guests throughout the month. Of course that’s unlikely to happen in a world where our room rates seem to be subsidized by extortionate Wi-Fi charges, but some enterprising establishment will surely lead us out of that darkness. Other stuff in the room like the TV should come standard with an HDMI cable to hook my PC up to – then I can stream my movies from my cloud services. Of course that explodes another revenue generator for hotels but people are doing this already by bringing their own kit so why not enable the inevitable? Alternatively, lets have Internet enabled TV’s (or Xbox’s) in rooms so I can bring all of my services with me when I roam?

Other things I’d love to see? How about a voice controlled environment? “Lights off” as I hit the sheets, “shower on” when I wake? I know it’s all additional cost but we’re talking hotels of the future remember? The best part is all the tech is here today to make it happen.

Next stop, my hotel room in NYC….oh well, I can dream I suppose!