TechWeekEurope checks in to hub by Premier Inn, London’s most tech-friendly hotel
Staying in a hotel can all too often be a dry and monotonous experience, as dull buildings and identikit rooms fail to provide any kind of excitement or engagement with the city they’re in.
However this could all be about to change thanks to hub by Premier Inn, the latest hotel offering from parent company Whitbread.
Starting from £79 a night, hub by Premier Inn is located a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square, right in the middle of the Covent Garden area of London, home to many of the city’s leading theatres, bars and restaurants.
Based on years of customer feedback and featuring a wide range of technological wizardry, hub by Premier Inn claims to provide a hotel experience like no other, so TechWeekEurope checked in for a stay.
“We built hub on extensive guest insight and research,” Rachel Cully, brand manager of hub by Premier Inn, told us at the hotel. “Technology has become now less of a benefit, more of a utility – it’s become a must-have in our connected world.
“There was a desire for that level of connectivity and technology enhancement within the hotel…the evolution of technology gives us an opportunity we’ve never had before”
The extensive research that went in to the development of hub found that technology needs to add convenience and provide a benefit – “not just tech for tech’s sake, but delivering an authentic experience,” Cully says.
From the moment you check in, it’s clear that hub is a little bit different. Lengthy queues at reception are replaced by kiosks (pictured above) that allow you to check in using your smartphone, with key cards for your room set up in seconds right in front of you.
Even the lift is an upgrade, with displays showing off information on hub’s dining options, as well as details about local attractions and the other services on offer at the hotel.
“The possibilities for technology are completely endless – there’s so much that you could do,” she adds. “What we chose to focus on was identifying what our guests needs were, and then surpassing their expectations,” which she says involved bringing in intuitive technology that gives them something they never knew they needed.
The room itself, although a little on the small side (this is definitely an option for single travellers), is smart and polished, with the comfortable double bed taking up about a half of the space.
Above the pillows is the first sign of technological influence– a selection of touch-sensitive buttons that control the lighting and temperature of the room. Offering a range of options depending on what level you need of either, there’s also buttons to signify a ‘Do Not Disturb’ or ‘Do Not Make Up Room’ notice to hotel staff.
Dominating one end of the room is a 40 inch Samsung smart television, which asides from simply watching TV or browsing the wealth of on-demand films and games, also shows information on the hotel’s surrounding area, providing recommendations on where to eat and what to do during your stay.
Controlled primarily by a remote control that also functions as a mouse, the television can also be controlled via a smartphone or Apple Watch, thanks to a dedicated hub app, available for iOS and Android devices.
Users simply need to pair their device to the set in order to be able to change station or volume without the need for a remote – a lifesaver late at night when you don’t want to get up and find the remote.
The app can also be used to browse the on premise dining options, and even order breakfast with just a few taps.
Lastly, one of the side walls features a large-scale canvas depicting the various areas of central London. But aside from its decorative function, the canvas also helps show guests around the city using Augmented Reality.
The Hub app displays an interactive map of certain areas, showing off information on local attractions or places to eat.
Hub is the most engaging and interactive hotel that TechWeekEurope has ever stayed in, with technology enhancing comfort and the experience of being confined to a hotel room. It wasn’t perfect though – Wi-Fi worked fine on a smartphone but not on a laptop – but Hub believes it can set an example for other areas of hospitality to follow.
“We’re seen as the future of hotels – which is brilliant,” says Cully, “and the possibilities really are endless.”
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