As technology transforms stay experiences, a look at what some innovative hotels are offering to match and exceed expectations from ever-demanding customers

Jon Reid Archphotos

Are keyless rooms not the way you prefer to unlock your hotel room? Does facial recognition leave you a little nervous? And voice recognition a little frustrated as you can’t get the local accent right? Brace yourself, this is just the beginning of major plans hotels have to alter the stay experience.

Hotels around the world are experimenting with technology — and while some overt ones such as dinosaurshaped robots and underwater lighting may be more for the wow effect, there are less obvious changes taking place as well, which could well transform the way we expect our future hotel stay experiences to be. Here are 10 of the more innovative hotels that have already taken significant steps to bring the future closer to us.


The hotel, part of a converted brewery, combines innovative technologies with luxury in the form of personal artistic experiments.The journey begins with the guest getting an iPhone which is not just the room key, but also guides you across the hotel, and helps you communicate your needs to the staff. It is pre-fitted with a local SIM card too, to help you navigate Poznan. The entry is through a dark lobby that leads you to multiple screens. Just as you are about to double check the address, and perhaps your sanity, the screens show the guest's image — only digitised, which splits up into pixelated combinations. Tech disguised as art (or is it in equal measure?) is a constant encounter and makes any stay a unique one.


That hotels in tech-driven Japan will be high-tech is no surprise. What impresses instead is just how unobtrusively technology has been woven into the luxurious Peninsula experience. The rooms are luxurious of course, but it’s the add-ons that surprise. Witness the mood lighting pads and Skype-compatible wireless phones, unlimited internet radio with over 3,000 stations, bedsides curtain controls, nail polish dryers, ambiance controls, personal thermostats, and TVs that mute when the phone rings. Also, the hotel has digitally-interactive Pokémon hunt.


Eccleston Square, London, has gained the reputation for offering some high-tech gadgetry to wow its guests. Each guestroom includes 49-inch smart TV with 4K Chromecast, enabling guests to mirror his or her device to the TV. There’s a smart-glass wall between the bathroom and the bedroom and handy smartphones offering free international phone calls to countries. Touchscreens operate music, lighting, and control temperature and an iPad acts as a personal concierge. Add electronically adjustable beds, a 3-way shower system, VOIP telephony, heated floors, sleep-inducing sounds and images broadcast in each room for better sleep — there’ a lot to marvel at. Or just lap up the luxury? Besides, guests are given a smartphone programmed with helpful information to take with them as they explore the capital. In-room concierges are provided in the form of an iPad for guests to tap in their every desire.


Work-hard, play-hard travellers can customise their in-room workspace with oversized butcher-block desks and high-tech conveniences, including smart TVs, besides viewing capabilities from guest mobile devices to the TV. A games console-filled playroom, an antique telephone booth from which you can tweet, Snapchat or blog, and a museum display of retro games cartridges, computer chips and old mobile phones are just some of the simpler pleasures. The pièce de résistance — a virtual reality room in the lobby that keeps tech enthusiasts hooked.


It will come as no surprise that a hotel in cool-tech hub Seattle features on the list. Located in the heart of the city, within walking distance from the famed waterfront, is not the reason why the 1000 is mentioned in this list. Behind its chic décor lie tech features designed for ease of usage and personalisation. Each room is fitted with a unique IP system that allows guests to play the desired music, choose their own temperature and even swipe through a selection of artworks that will be displayed. Built-in infrared detectors alert housekeeping staff when the room is occupied. Then there’s smart climate control settings, and a digital do-not-disturb button. There’s more — an intelligent mini-bar notifies the front desk when it needs stocking, while the shower experience is unique — the bathtub fills from the ceiling. The hotel provides Cisco video phones for guests, who can also tee off at more than 50 courses from around the world, courtesy a virtual reality golf club!


Perhaps there is no better place to witness the future of hospitality than at Henn na Hotel, which some refer to as the weird hotel. Robots do everything, from check-in to getting your bags carried to your room. Facial recognition works instead of room keys. The ‘robot cloak room’ has a giant robotic arm that stores your valuables in a locker. The concierge is a doll-like hairless robot with voice recognition that offers information about a range of things and a robot takes verbal instructions!


NH Collection, an upscale German brand known for its technologyled solutions, has the goal of putting technology at the service of business and leisure with the objective of offering a revolutionary service and installations in the industry. NH Collection Madrid Eurobuilding is an epitome of what tech can do — offering four state-of- the-art Living Lab rooms. Guests can expect ever-evolving offerings — bedside tables that wirelessly charge smartphones, tablet devices that allow guests to speak face-to-face with reception staff, intelligent luggage rack with in-built scales to prevent overweight flight luggage and more. A 300m2 LED vault screen over the lobby is Europe’s largest multimedia vault screen and the largest vaulted (semi-transparent) display installed in a hotel globally.


Yes, the future is approaching faster than perhaps we are prepared for. Here’s a glimpse into a world misanthropes might appreciate — no humans. The staff at Pengheng Space Capsules Hotel, a short way from Shenzhen, China’s ‘Silicon Valley’, is entirely composed of robots. Front desk attendants or doormen, waiters or housekeepers, robots are there to meet your every whim. The hotel’s look and feel complement its staff — with neon surfaces dominating. The rooms are well, capsule beds, designed as innovative ‘space station’ bunks. Think the spaceship of your dreams and you may not be far off. No, it ain’t a luxury hotel, but tech nerds won’t be complaining!


If Sentosa is the perfect playground, the W is perhaps its coolest ride. For the tech minded, or those just here for an entertaining time, there’s a lot to get plugged into. In keeping with the brand’s vibe, the hotel has LED lighting right across all spaces, lending a touch of the futuristic while adding to its cool quotient. The hotel has huge events spaces, with special amenities such as mood music and signature scents! Want to go for a swim and don’t want to miss out the party — well the pool comes supplied with underwater speakers. Also available — poolside music in a private cabana, along with iPads. The hotel’s WOW Suite comes with its own private DJ booth. Rooms feature 40-inch flat-screen TVs, Bose speakers, and iPod docks, among a host of amenities.


With airline style self-check-in kiosks and keyless entry, a guest here notices the change straightaway. Just as striking are the ‘cabins’, aka rooms, where the aim is to provide a luxury feel in a compact space through the use of design and technology. Also standard to the chain — which has hotels in other locations such as London, Paris, Singapore and Amsterdam among others — are features such as convertible double beds, adjustable mood lighting and motion sensors that provide air conditioning uniquely. Note the numerous charging points and smart TVs. What makes the NYC hotel stand out is YOBOT, the world's first robotic luggage concierge who takes care of not just the luggage but can store guests’ valuables in a safety deposit box!