Inside The New High-Tech London Hotel That's Controlled Entirely By Samsung Tablets

CitizenM Bankside Hotel LondonInside CitizenM.

London is starting to get serious about building a startup scene, so it gathered a bunch of reporters to promote “Tech City” this week.

Tech City, originally dubbed Silicon Roundabout, is a section of East London where startups are cropping up. Google Campus is in the heart of it, and companies like MindCandy and Yammer have offices nearby.

As part of the Tech City experience, the reporters stayed in a new, high-tech boutique hotel called CitizenM.

The hotel, located in Bankside, doesn’t have a concierge. Instead, guests check themselves in and out on touch computer screens. In each room, a personalised Samsung Galaxy tablet greets guests and lets them control everything from the blinds to the lights on the tablet. Internet access is free and there’s no password. Netflix movies can be watched on the TV from the tablet for no charge. CitizenM says it wants to make guests feel like they’re at home.

The chain was started four years ago in Amersterdam. CitizenM will be coming to the United States later this year when it launches a Times Square branch in New York City.

We were blown away by the tablet-controlled room. We don’t know how we’ll go back to a room where you actually have to get up to do things.

Full Disclosure: London & Partners, a not-for-profit funded by the city’s mayor, paid for our flight and hotel to London this week to cover London’s startup scene. It paid the full price (about 400 pounds for three nights) at the CitizenM.

This is the checkin desk at CitizenM Hotel in Bankside, London.

When you turn left, there are desks and chairs where people can work. It's a popular spot because the WiFi is quick and free, even for non-guests.

There's also a bar and a kitchen with food that's served until all hours, from breakfast buffet through dinner.

As you walk toward the bar, there's an outdoor courtyard on your right. It was a little too cold to sit outside, but the patio will undoubtedly be packed this summer.

To the right of the kitchen there are long dining tables and more work space.

If you forego the kitchen and bar, you can head straight back to the elevator bank. It's decorated like a bookshelf with odd trinkets and a photo of a man hiding behind blue sequin underwear.

For a healthier alternative, you can make your way up the winding staircase to the first floor.

These funky black lights will guide your way.

The first floor is full of beautifully decorated meeting rooms. Here's one you can book.

The hallways are dark, with black and white photos that line the walls.

It's dimly lit with spotlights on strange art at each end.

Here's the other side.

Even though the halls are dark, the rooms are full of light. Our room was on the third of five floors. The centre of the hotel is the courtyard, so every room has one large window for a wall.

Each room is long and skinny but the furniture is laid out perfectly to maximise the space.

A sink and dresser were pushed against a wall opposite the bathroom.

The shower was in the same room as the toilet, separated by a curtain.

Here's a view from the shower.

The hotel is full of clever signs and messages. Here's one on the hand soap.

And here are messages on the shampoo (there's one for AM and PM with different scents).

Another warns you about the hairdryer.

The bed takes up one-third of the room. On it is a big fluffy comforter, two pillows and no sheets. A TV is mounted on one of the walls. There is a strange stuffed animal too.

Next to the bed, there's a nightstand. On it is a Samsung Galaxy tablet that greets you by name.

The computer you check-in on notifies the device in your assigned room so it's waiting when you walk in.

You can select your language on the tablet.

The Galaxy can also be controlled by tilting the device. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google+ and YouTube can all be accessed from the tablet with a single click.

You can make the blinds and the curtains go up or down by pressing a button on the tablet screen.

You can also turn the lights on or off, up or down, and change their colour. My room didn't stay purple for long. I switched it from red, to blue, to yellow to green.

The TV and tablet are in sync, so you can switch from music to TV to movies on the Galaxy.

Here are some of the movies that were available.

While it wasn't close to London's most popular attractions (Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Eye, etc), the room was convenient, comfortable, and it really felt like home. We can't wait for CitizenM to open in NYC.

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