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A hotel lobby featuring virtual pirate encounters? Yup, that’s now a thing. Innovation in design, technology and customer service are transforming the guest experience. From robots that deliver coffee right to your room to virtual fitness classes, these hotel offerings might be the wave of the future.

RELATED: Check-in just got a whole lot more exciting, thanks to these 19 hotels

Self-cleaning rooms

Hotel Ottilia in Copenhagen, housed in a former Carlsberg brewery building, is now offering self-disinfecting technology in its rooms. Just how does this work, you ask? Called CleanCoat, the antibacterial spray breaks down microbes and purifies the air. The CleanCoat technology is also more sustainable than traditional cleaning methods; no bleach or disinfectants are needed, and less water is used.

Robot room deliveries


Image courtesy YOTEL Boston

At YOTEL Boston, don’t be surprised if you run into the hotel’s robot YO2D2 delivering items to guest rooms (via its storage compartments). Although you can’t shake hands (it doesn’t have arms), feel free to strike up a conversation. True, it doesn’t have quite the personality that Rosie, the Jetsons’ robot maid had, but it does love to “chat.” The robot makes its way around the hotel without a chaperone due to Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) technology that enables autonomous navigation.

Virtual fitness classes


Image courtesy Marriott City Center Charlotte

A stay at the Charlotte Marriott City Center comes with a variety of innovative amenities the hotel is constantly refining through their M Beta program including push buttons around the property to get instant feedback from customers about their experience. Additional cutting-edge technology includes check in via the Marriott app and using a Mobile Key to gain entrance to your guest room (no waiting in line at the front desk), guest room furniture that can be configured to fit your needs, personalized exercise regimens with Fitness On Demand (which offers more than 600 types of workouts), an in-room Circadian Mood Box to help you relax or get energized, and a Vitamin C-infused shower head.

Socially connected “phone booths”

Hotel Zetta

Image courtesy Hotel Zetta

Not all phone booths are for making phone calls. At San Francisco’s Hotel Zetta, you can tweet, snap or post from their high-tech antique phone booth. The hotel also partnered with Exit Reality to offer a virtual reality experience in the hotel lobby. Put on the VR headsets and be immersed in underwater adventures, space exploration, pirate encounters and more.

Customized ambience


Image courtesy Aria Resort & Casino

You don’t need a bellman to help you get settled at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Upon entering a guest room, guests are greeted with soothing music, the lights and TV are automatically turned on and the curtains open without the touch of a button. If you want to customize the room to your liking throughout the day or night, utilize the Control4 technology to select from a variety of “scenes” to change the mood upon waking up or when settling down.

Smart toilets

Hotel Bel Air

Image courtesy of Hotel Bel Air

You might not expect innovative technology in such a serene setting, but the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles will surprise you. One of the most impressive places in the guest room is, oddly enough, the bathroom. Not only are the marble floors heated, but the toilet is like something out of a sci-fi movie. It has more buttons than a TV remote control. Not only does it have a motion-activated lid that opens automatically, you can also use the control panel attached to the nearby wall to activate a seat heater, dryer and deodorizer. It also allows you to customize front and rear cleansing. Now, if only it could order room service.

Body–reading temperature controls


Image courtesy theWit Hotel

There’s nothing worse than trying to fiddle with the heat and/or AC to get the right temperature for a hotel room. theWit Chicago Hotel makes it easy to get just the right room climate. A sensor-activated climate control detects your location and adjusts to your body heat. How’s that for a bespoke experience? The hotel also features a digital gallery wall with rotating images at its rooftop bar called ROOF.

Bespoke digital art

Image courtesy citizenM Times Square

Want to customize your hotel room to your liking? At NYC’s citizenM New York Times Square, guests can automate lighting color and brightness, music, room temperature, have the blinds up or down, turn the TV on or off and select which digital art to display to change the mood and vibe of their guest room. Need a wake up call? Gone are the days of the front desk calling your hotel room to wake you up with the ring of a phone. citizenM Times Square offers guests the control to be woken up “gently” or “wildly.”

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Tagged: Boston, California, Chicago, Chicago, Europe, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Midwest, New York, North Carolina, San Francisco

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Sharael Kolberg |
​Sharael, founder of Family Travel Channel (, has been writing about travel since 1995. Her work has appeared in Sunset magazine, Outside magazine,,, and many others. Follow her on Twitter @FamTravChannel, FB and Instagram @FamilyTravelChannel. See more of her work at
Sharael Kolberg |
- 4 weeks ago
Sharael Kolberg |

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