London’s West End hotels have been receiving guests for almost 200 years. When Brown’s Hotel opened in 1837, the rail link to London was cutting-edge travel technology — and the U.K.’s first phone call was made from the same hotel in 1876. But when it comes to gadgetry, the city’s 21st-century hoteliers certainly aren’t looking backward for their inspiration.
This small Belgravia hotel has a well-earned rep as London’s most-plugged-in property. Rooms are stuffed with impressive gadgets: 46-inch, 3-D Neo Plasma TVs; Hästens beds with massage mode; iPads connected to room service and housekeeping; and VDA Micromaster systems to control in-room temperature and lighting. Guest rooms also have multiple sockets for charging U.K., U.S. and European gadgets without any need for an adapter.
This grand hotel is pretty much the last word in Knightsbridge opulence. But it’s not all about the regal address, personalized guest stationery and 24-hour butler service; The Lanesborough is also decked out with some first-rate kit. There’s a Sony VAIO laptop in every room, as well as iPod docking stations and access to a large digital music library. And there’s no need to jump onto Skype or run up your roaming bill — free telephone calls to Europe and the U.S. are included in the room rate.
These lodgings offer more than just the freedom of a luxury apartment in one of London’s swanky neighborhoods. All properties are equipped with Sherlock, an electronic key system that lives on your phone. You can open the door from anywhere with a couple of clicks and loan “virtual” keys to anyone you trust — whether you have a smartphone or just a basic handset. Apartments also come with an iPhone preloaded with tips from a local for you to use for free during your stay.
London’s techiest airport hotel will open this fall at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal. On arrival, a room key is sent directly to your phone via NFC — Samsung users, rejoice. Control air conditioning, lights and the flat-panel TV from your handset, with voice activation, if the phone supports it. Top-spec rooms also offer enhanced soundproofing and upgraded progress through airport security.
It’s smack-dab on London’s traditional hotel strip, but once you’re in your guest room at 45 Park Lane, 21st-century immersive multimedia is the theme. The Thierry Despont-designed rooms and suites are equipped with Bang & Olufsen TVs — this includes screens in the bathroom mirrors — and a single control to run all the in-room gadgetry. There’s also an iPad in every room for your exclusive use.
Photo Courtesy of Eccleston Square Hotel