Some travelers want to go back to pre-crackberry times when they’re on vacation. There’s even a new hotel that asks guests to surrender all gadgets in Pennsylvania. Often times, vacationers want to soak up the sun, listen to the waves and gorge themselves on lobster tails and champagne–without checking-in on Foursquare or snapping photos on Foodspotting. But then there are those always plugged-in travelers, toting the latest gadgetry, seeking hotels that are ahead of the curve, technologically speaking.
Complimentary WiFi? You better do better than that. Digital check-ins, fully loaded bedside iPads, and flatscreen TVs in the bathroom? We’re getting there. How about touch-screen atmosphere controls, geothermal power plants and iMacs and iPhones for everyone?!
For this list we teamed up with boutique hotel experts at Mr & Mrs Smith, a trusted travel publisher and boutique hotel booking service whose iPhone app we recently reviewed and Jetsetter, Gilt’s exclusive site for travel sales. [Read our interview with Jetsetter’s CEO Drew Patterson here.]
The Upper House
Hong Kong, China
Some of the most tech savvy hotels in the world can be found in Hong Kong. The Upper House, dreamed up by designer Andre Fu, has a desk-free check-in with the aid of a tablet PC, which gives you a hint of things to come. All guests at this virtually paperless hotel are supplied with an iPod Touch touch preloaded with games, music and everything you need to know about the hotel and its environs. As you’d expect, there’s free and unlimited broadband access; even the hotel’s cars (Lexus RX450H hybrid models) are equipped with Wi-Fi. Video-on-demand provides an extensive choice of movies for watching on the massive 42” LCD TVs. There’s a smaller one in the bathroom too, so you can relax in the tub while watching John Woo’s spectacular Hard Boiled. Double rooms from $514. Book here.
See that bed? It’s glowing. Kube is a temple to all things futuristic hidden behind a traditional 19th-century façade. Sci-fi flourish includes finger-print technology to access your boudoir. Rooms take the ‘cube’ theme seriously, juxtaposing gadgetry with comfort in all-white spaces. Further geeky pleasures come courtesy of multimedia plasma screens and pre-loaded iPods. Double rooms from $268. Book here.
At Nine Zero, the 19th-floor penthouse suite requires a retinal scan to unlock the door. Biometrics in place of key cards? Very 007. Queen beds start at $299. Book here.
This hotel is set in the heart of Sydney’s business district featuring a very hip design and gadgets like touch-screen room controls and iPads by each bed. Guests can stream games, music and movies to the room’s Apple TV or keep things, um, ‘old-school’ with the Bose entertainment system. Digital editions of international newspapers are available daily on your bedside iPad. Double rooms from $239. Book here.
Mexico City, Mexico
As the Internet continues to penetrate Mexico, this hotel is accustomed to a jetsetting laptop-loving crowd that means business, with most guests toting smart-case enclosed tablets. Rooms in Las Alcobas in Polanco include a single controller which rings your butler, orders room service, draws the shades and sets the alarm. Double rooms from $275. Book here.
Kameha Grand Bonn
Futuristic” isn’t a word that’s used accurately to describe a hotel very often. Enter the Kameha Grand Bonn, a curved glass and steel creation on the banks of the Rhine. The Alice in Wonderland–meets–Salvador Dalì psychedelic interior is the work of superstar designer du jour Marcel Wanders (of Mondrian South Beach Miami fame), known for his trippy layouts, flowered prints and illusionist’s eye. And with a geothermal power plant churning out 70% of the hotel’s energy, this sensory homage to psychedelic art manages to not only be cutting-edge trendy but also very green. Lastly, German hotel has social media brilliance to complement its tech flair. Facebook, Twitter, Blog and YouTube pages? It’s got them all. Standard rooms start at €185. Book here.
Tosakan, the story goes, was a 10-faced giant who hid his heart in a box in a bid for immortality. Open the Tosakan’s Heart Box presented at check-in and you’ll find nothing so gruesome: a Skytrain pass, sim card, shopping tips, maps and an iPod to play the hotel’s video podcasts. A suggested soundtrack with recommended bands is also included, bonus! Double rooms from $110. Book here.
Le Parker Meridien
New York, New York
Le Parker Meridien in NYC takes high-tech fitness even higher with a Wii exercise room in its health club, so guests can play tennis with virtual partners at any level. And if you’re suffering from Wii tennis elbow? Why not go for a jog in nearby Central Park? King beds start at $415. Book here.
Blow Up Hall
Blow Up Hall is described as an electronic art hotel. Renowned artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer created an intriguing video installation around which the design of the hotel is based. The moment you step inside, you’re a performer in the video being played in the lobby comprising 2,400 tiny images gathered from as many cameras inside the hotel. No keys or door numbers here, just iPhones. Every guest is supplied with an Apple iPhone which, through recognition tech, you use to gain access to your room. And of course you can also use it to call your concierge, surf the net and view preloaded local tourist info. Rooms start at 880.00 PLN. Book here.
Once a parking garage and now a Philippe Starck-designed boutique hotel, Mama Shelter has a 24-inch iMac in each one of its 172 rooms, which serves as your entertainment center. Something else the rooms at Mama Shelter have that you won’t find in most other hotels is a microwave oven. Who knows when you might want to heat up your poulet rôti en cocotte. In the dining area you’ll find a number of digital tables, which are basically horizontal TVs broadcasting various channels, and there’s even an iMac photo booth where you can take your picture and watch as it’s projected to screens all around the restaurant. Rooms start at €149. Book here.
So what does your favorite tech-savvy hotel offer? Let us know in the comments!