For years, hotels have tried to provide the best creature comforts and services. But now, many are adapting to the digital age. So when you book hotel rooms, pay attention to the amenities offered.
These days, Wi-Fi is standard at many hotels. Some provide free service in the lobby. You may need to pay to use it in your room. Interestingly, lower priced hotels are more likely to offer free in-room high speed Internet access than pricey establishments.
Getting online is just the beginning. Many hotels provide 24-hour business centers stocked with computers and printers. Others offer far more tech amenities. Here are just a few:
MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Each suite has a high-definition flat-panel television. And many suites have several. You'll find them in several different rooms. There are even sets built into the bathroom mirror.
To complement that, you'll find a DVD player and an advanced stereo system. There is Internet access in each room.
A remote control helps you adjust settings in the room. You can close the drapes or change the temperature with the click of a button.
The Four Seasons, Manele Bay, Hawaii
At the Four Seasons, you'll find flat-screen televisions, DVD and CD players in rooms. Some also offer stereo players for your iPod. Additionally, the rooms are equipped with both wired and wireless Internet access.
The hotel also has an entertainment center guests can use. It contains large flat-panel televisions. Or, if you are missing your Xbox or PlayStation, guests can play games for free in the hotel's public video game room.
Hotel Sax, Chicago
The Hotel Sax has partnered with Microsoft. It has launched The Studio: An Experience by Microsoft. In the entertainment lounge, guests can try Microsoft's newest technologies. There are Xbox games, laptops and a music library downloadable to Zunes. There's also a home theater setup for watching select movies.
You'll find Xbox 360s and improved sound systems in the rooms. Additionally, every room has instant messaging to communicate with the concierge. Guests can also communicate with concierges outside the hotel, thanks to text messaging.
Pod Hotel, New York
Like other hotels, the Pod offers flat-panel televisions and Wi-Fi access. You'll also find iPod docking stations.
But the pod has something other hotels don't. It has created a social network for guests. They can exchange sightseeing advice or make arrangements to meet.
In many hotels, your cell phone may not work in your room. The Mandarin Oriental in New York has a system that just about guarantees cell phone coverage anywhere in the hotel. They also provide loaner cell phone chargers in case you left yours at home.
Of course, these hotels may be out of many travelers' budgets. But you'll find tech-savvy hotels in your budget. Decide what you need and how much you're willing to spend. Then start asking the hotels questions.
Most travelers need Internet access. So ask about the costs for Internet access. Are entertainment systems provided in the rooms? High-definition televisions are becoming more common. Surround sound systems are less common. Ask about iPod docks.
DVD players in the room are handy, especially if you are traveling with children. Most rooms won't include stand-alone gaming consoles. But you may be able to rent an Xbox or Nintendo Wii. Don't be surprised if you have to pay by the hour for the privilege.