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With a wave of super-charged, high-tech vending machines in the airports dispensing everything from phone chargers to make-up and even iPhones, it was only a matter of time before hotels got in the automated dispensary 2.0 game as well.
Of course, vending machines in hotels is not a new concept. Hotels have long offered vending machines to service the late-night munchies or thirst of their guests. But the upscale vending machine is rather new. The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas launched a U*Tique vending machine a few years back that sells high and low items like souvenirs, make-up, and expensive headphones. Meanwhile St. Martin's Lane used to have an automated machine that sold goodies from Selfridge's department store. Indeed, The Hudson Hotel was a sort of pioneer with their Semi-Automatic Vending Machine which they first showed off in 2010.
But now, The Wellington Hotel in Times Square has installed a modern type of vending machine that sells everyday goodies from souvenirs to snacks to essentials that you actually need (chargers and toothpaste.)
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On a recent evening, we found ourselves in Times Square with some time to kill while waiting for a friend. Unable to think of something better to do, we headed straight for the huge eighth-floor lobby of the Marriott Marquis Times Square.
As it happened, we were also a little snackish, but didn't want to spoil our appetite for dinner (an extravagant feast awaited in K-town). So we hopped on over to the vending machines in search of something salty. Inserted the bill, pressed the button, watched the metal rings coil, and then—nothing. A pack of trail mix hung precariously from the tip of the dispenser. Sadness!
But just when we were about to give the whole machine a much-deserved headbutt, the mechanism sprang into action again to let fall not one, but two packs of trail mix. Score!
We've seen hotel vending machines here and there, but the U*Tique Shop at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is probably top of the heap, challenging the similar retail robots making inroads at Morgans Hotels in London and New York.
What's on offer in Vegas? A collection of sundries both high- and low-ticket, with Vosges chocolates, Flip cams, Beats by Dre headphones, TUMI totes, Chuck Klosterman books, all manner of make-up both classy and trashy and, obviously, fashion tape.
Conde Nast Traveler's Truth.Travel blog is well-aware of the luxe vending machine that recently opened at the Hudson Hotel but they've also got the scoop on another Morgans Hotel with a "ridiculuxe" machine--St. Martins Lane.
The hotel unveiled its Love Machine, stocked with goodies from the Selfridges department store during London's Fashion Week the other week but unlike the Hudson and the Mondrian South Beach, this machine will remain in place only until October 15.
Yet while it's there, you can select from the Love Machine's six categories—accessories, beauty, menswear, womenswear, food, and home. Some of the goodies you can buy?
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What is that creepy, glowing box that peeks out from a brick cubby down a darkened hall? Why, that's the Hudson Hotel's new Semi-Automatic vending machine. In lieu of a gift shop, the hotel has just introduced this hulking machine, and just like at the Mondrian South Beach, another Morgans Hotel, it hawks both the cheap and common and rare and pricey goods to guests.
We dropped by to check it out ourselves, and it is something kinda cool. We doubt we'd ever buy anything from one, but upon seeing the $12 copy of Catcher in the Rye, we reconsidered. Heywe've already read it, but if we were desperate for a good read while chilling out on the Hudson's inner garden terrace, this could be a lifesaver.
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A few months back it looked like there was a burgeoning hotel gift shop war going on between some downtown hotels. But we think that might all come to an end thanks to the Hudson Hotel, which just installed a Semi-Automatic Vending Machine in their hotel lobby.
This oversized luxury vending machine is akin to the one we wrote about at the Mondrian South Beach last year. The goodies are divided into the following categories--Basics, Media, Fashion, Beauty, and GoFish. The machine functions by a touch-operated screen and it only takes credit cards. But that's probably because this gift shop was not built for cash transactions. Instead of candy, keychains and toothpaste, you can find the following inside the Semi-Automatic Vending Machine:
Classic paperback Catcher in the Rye, a stylish toothbrush by Paul Smith, a retro Ouija Board, a luxe Dagger Rosary by renowned jewelry designer Pamela Love, an Essential Travel Kit by Malin+ Goetz, a chic black sequin mini skirt by Haute Hippie, Blueprint Cleanse, a red Ferrari 599 GTB that you can rent on a whim from Gotham Dream Cars, and a personal portrait shoot with renowned photographer Ben Watts.
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Good news for fans of hotel pools and showing off their hot bods by them! Standard Hotels has relaunched their collaboration with Roxy Quiksilver for a second summer, bringing in a new variety of men's and women's swimwear, plus sunglasses and sunscreen. It's what to wear upstairs at Le Bain, no doubt.
This year's range of styles features four swim trunk designsone for each Standard Hotelplus a reversible women's bikini, a pair of Quiksilver sunglasses and sunscreen from Shiseido. A pair of boardshorts comes in two lengths (16" or 18") and they're priced at $75, if you can locate the one vending machine that sells them at each of the hotels. The bikini and sunglasses are going for $88 each, and if you can't make it to a hotel, get 'em online.
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Is nothing sacred? Not for Morgans Hotel Group, who have just desecrated the almighty concept of a vending machine as well as their Marcel Wanders-designed Mondrian South Beach. Doing away with a hotel gift shop and brushing off Marcel for a moment, the Mondrian brought in Mari Balestrazzi to reinvent an automat, called Semi-Automatic, for peddling their goodies. It's a great idea except for the fact that it only accepts credit cards and contains nothing edible.
That said, we're completely seduced by its clean lines and bounty of Atari classics for Playstation, and we kind of want to rub against it and purr. Aside from Atari games, the automat contains various other earthly delights such as 24-karat gold handcuffs from Kiki de Montparnasse, rentals of a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow or 2000 Bentley Azure convertible, $28 anti-recession T-shirts and $400 marabou feather vests. Only in Miami, we say. Will this vending machine be popping up in any other Morgans Hotels? Probably not, but we do know it's next destination: our fantasies.
[Image via Morgans Hotel Group]