Think of Premier Inn, and you’re not likely to think about super high-tech hotels for the tech-savvy, tech-heavy age. You’re more likely to think about a basic room with a basic price – a bed and a shower, and that’s about all.
Your opinion of Premier Inn should radically change if you check yourself into the chain’s latest venture, ‘hub by Premier Inn’. Located in Covent Garden and just a very brief trek from Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square, ‘hub’ is Premier Inn’s attempt to create a place to stay that’s actually in tune with this gadget-laden, everything-on-demand modern world.
For whatever reason, the hospitality industry seems forever slow in changing and adapting to new technologies. While most of us are used to super-fast broadband at home, chances are if you even check into a £250-a-night hotel the best you’ll probably receive is ‘free wireless broadband’ that crawls at speeds slower than 3G, or the expectation that you carry an ethernet cable around with you everywhere you go.
Premier Inn – the UK’s leading hotel chain with nearly 700 hotels – is hoping to kickstart a more radical solution to our technological expectations when it comes to places to stay. Arrive at the hub and check in is done via a terminal – once you agree to the T&Cs your room key-card is dispensed, along with an Apple Watch which is yours for the duration of your stay.
Keycards are quite familiar to hotel users these days, but the card reader at the ‘hub’ is entirely contactless. The rooms at the hotel are very compact but are designed to make up for their lack of space by being as functional as possible. Storage is mainly provided beneath the bed, and although there is no drawer nor wardrobe you have access to a rail with hangers provided and a shelf.
Connecting to wi-fi is ridiculously easy, and thankfully there is no tedious login procedure or secret password you have to beg reception for. Once you’re connected you can download the immensely useful hub app to your smartphone. This app is invaluable as it can act as your access key to both your room and the hotel, as well as a remote control for the TV, lights and air conditioning.
The app also contains a menu for the hotel’s restaurant, and acts as an info conduit. All around the hotel (including in your room) there are maps of London – all you need to do to find out about a particular aspect of the capital is to point your smartphone at the map and the information you need pops up on your smartphone screen.
Why you might think being to control everything from the comfort of your own smartphone promotes laziness, having everything at your fingertips (literally) is amazingly convenient.
Perhaps you would not expect Premier Inn to be leading the way with a such super-tech hotel, but that is exactly what seems to be happening. The ‘hub’ is a superb innovation for people familiar with cutting-edge connectivity, and it surely can only be a matter time before Premier’s rivals start to follow suit.