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Here's one advantage to being located next to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, CA: Aloft Cupertino, which opened yesterday, is now the first Aloft hotel to feature Apple TV devices in all 123 guest rooms. This is great news for anyone not interested in paying $15-$20 just to watch an in-room movie (ie, us, and pretty much everyone else).
The ingenious little box-shaped devices (pictured) basically allow you to stream music, TV shows and movies on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu or MBL.com straight from your Apple device onto an HD TV.
So while it's a handy thing to keep around the house, it works just as well—if not better—in a hotel. Wanna order room service while running through all the episodes of Downton Abbey? Or watch the Angels vs. Giants game in your bathtub? Or sing (loudly) along with the cast of Glee? The possibilities are endless.
And if being able to stream all your favorite media for free wasn't enough, the hotel will make things easier by resetting the boxes each time a guest checks out (that way, your account settings won't be compromised). Aloft will even go ahead and sync up iTunes to match whatever country you're from
Of course, you'll need reliable WiFi to actually access the content on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. And luckily, Aloft is one of the upstanding brands that offers it free.
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After an in-depth look at the lobby and restaurant, we recently got to take a look around the new(-ish) guest rooms at Conrad New York. And though plenty about the rooms caught our eye (sleek frosted glass sliding doors, separate living rooms, Hudson River views), one detail in particular made us really stop and go, 'Aahhh.'
It was one of the features on the TV. Scrolling through the regular options like movies, room service, concierge features, and lighting control, we settled on a category titled "Moodz," which then offered us a series of different ambient scenes. They're not cartoons, they're not reality TV (well, at least not the way we usually think of reality TV), and they're not porn. They're just little movies of absolutely nothing happening.
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For awhile now, we've wondered if anyone uses hotel alarm clocks anymore. Usually, we answer this ourselves in the negative. (Once you learn to trust your cell phone alarm, there's no turning back.)
But on a recent trip to Sydney, we decided to use the alarm clock in our room--quite simply because the alarm clock was our hotel room. Forget iHomes and other iPod dock alarms. Rooms at the sparkling new hotel The Darling can wake you up in a much more 3-D, natural, customized way.
There's no exact science to veging out in your hotel room, though there are certainly creative ways to enhance the experience. Ordering up extra pillows. Creating a mini steam room in your bathroom. Putting on the hotel's custom spa music CD.
And here's another: using the LodgeNet app to change channels, adjust the volume and turn the TV on or off—all from a quick tap of your iPhone, iPad or Android. As we reported before, the LodgeNet app is just one of many new tech tricks that are simplifying trivial hotel tasks like booking your room, checking in, and even opening the door upon arrival. And we love them.
We spent some time recently playing with the app in our hotel room. Read on to hear what we thought!
If you've done some hotel hopping lately, you would have noticed the size wars underway.
No, not the size of the bed--or your WiFi bandwith (we wish). We're talking about TVs. The size of flatscreens keeps ballooning--but none we've seen have been as impressive as the TVs at South Beach's revamped Marlin Hotel.
When you first walk into your room, it looks like a mirror. But as you'll soon find once you play around with your in-room iPad, there is a 60-inch LED screen hidden behind the mirror, in service of the also-concealed AppleTV system.
A nice piece of design in theory, but how does it work in the wild? We gave it a test spin during a recent stay...
Since everyone is pretty much useless these days without smartphones doing everything for them, it makes sense that hotels are making a bigger effort to appeal to our growing dependency on technology. And that's just what Hyatt's done by installing a new system called Roomlinx on all guest room TVs.
Yes, it sounds more like a weird hotel dating service than an entertainment center. But actually, Roomlinx is a pretty nifty system that allows guests to order room service, browse Netflix and YouTube, send documents to be printed, request housekeeping, make local dinner reservations, and, of course, watch TV. Think of it like an e-butler, media center and city guide all rolled into one.
Except, you know, without the hassle of having to speak to another human.
Is it Christmas? It sure feels like it with yesterday's news that the Satellite TV company DirecTV is working on a germ-free remote control just for hotels. Oh yeah, and they will also be supplying hotels with more than 100 HD channels. The Hollywood Reporter reports:
DirecTV has already offered TV service to hotels, but the clear branding, the germ-free remote, the expanded HD offer and programming and interactive programming guide are new. The new service puts a small receiver into hotel guest rooms rather than putting - as has been the case so far - a range of receivers into the hotel utility room with each tuned to a specific channel. That used to limit the number of available channels.
The Bentley London Hotel calls itself one of the city's "best kept secrets" but these TVs in their guestrooms should probably remain hidden.
Even though the hotel's website shows flat-screens in their rooms, it seems a few of these clunkers have stayed on. For a luxury hotel, you'd think they be on the up and up with the latest in TV technology. Why even the budget Tune Hotel in Westminster has flat-screens.
Not surprisingly, the hotel is part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection, whose hotels aren't always "with it" amenity-wise or technology-wise, especially in their flagship hotel in New York. We rather like the rest of the opulently styled rooms with their luxe bedding, chandeliers and silk-covered walls and drapes but still, those TVs should remain out of sight.
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Drank Jean Paul Gaultier water & used pink rose scented bathroom tissue! Oh frenchies, you are TRES CHIC!
Now we're dying to know if this was in the bathroom at the Plaza Athenee or not. If so, we'll be making a pit stop in their bathrooms next trip to Paris.
However, in more exciting news for hotel technology geeks, we've learned from the Plaza Athenee's Facebook page, that the hotel has equipped their Royal Suite with a Panasonic 3D Full HD TV. Here's how this super high-tech TV works:
When it comes to the TV in your hotel room, does size matter? While we're much more interested in how fast (and how free!) our in-room WiFi is, we bet there are plenty of travelers who prize a huge TV screen. (And during football season, at least, we'd be one of them.)
Well, the Intercontinental Times Square will make size-ists happy when it opens this summer, with its HDTVs measuring 42 inches. Especially in a room of NYC proportions this seems more than generous.
We've just landed in Vegas for a shot of warmth and little bit of tech. Today, we'll be hitting the show floor at CES, to see what groovy travel gadgets and other technical bells and whistles and widgets may wind up in our hotel rooms a year from now.
After checking in to The Flamingo, we realized we had a good question for the hotel-geekery folks we might meet: What's next? Because, frankly, we think those TVs embedded in the bathroom mirrors are played out.
We love the massive flatscreen TVs that come standard in any good hotel room these days—and we don't even mind the excess of having more than one TV. But, seriously, what is with these low-fi mirror TVs? Did someone dream them up at CES three years ago after one too many post-show Chardonnays?
TVs are tricky things. You want what’s on them, obviously, but they’re not always the prettiest elements to a bedroom. What to do? You can squirrel it away in a cupboard looking slightly ashamed of it. You can wall-mount it so it’s out and proud.
Or you could take a leaf out of the Metropolitan London’s book and buy in some TVs that actually blend in with your carefully planned colour scheme. It’s just replaced the tellies in all 150 rooms, swapping boring black for snazzy white 32-inchers.
Not only are they pretty but they’re by Samsung, have 67 channels, 90 radio stations, internet and music and DVD libraries on there – and none of it will cost you a penny. We thoroughly approve.