Editor's Blog

Hotels available by the hour?

Another day at meetpie.com, another press release which promises to revolutionise the way the hotel industry operates.

But a couple of new innovations have really made us sit up and take notice recently.

First is ByHours.com, the first website which allows you to book hotel rooms in blocks of hours from as little as three hours or six hours.

In the past, only the most salubrious establishments would allow bookings by the hour(s) but ByHours, which was founded in Barcelona in March 2012, works with more than 600 hotels (including the Meliá and Hilton groups) across Spain, many of them near airports, train stations... or hospitals.

They also do bookings for 12, 24, 36 and 48 hours - and let you decide the time of arrival and departure.

So why book a hotel for just a few hours? Three or six hours are perfect, they say, 'for airport stopovers, to rest on your business trips, to enjoy the hotel spa in your city'. A 12-hour booking is just right 'to only pay for the hours you spend at the room' while slots of 24, 36  and 48 hours suit modern travellers 'because you choose the time your weekend begins, how long it takes and when it ends'.

This rapidly-growing phenomenon is coming to London in March, and it really does seem to be a new way for the hotel business to work.

With budgets reducing, this could offer a perfect alternative for the business traveller needing a few hours either side of an event, or before an anti-social departure time... will hotels be keeping a close eye on ByHours to see if it flies?

Another new development is the opening in February of BLOC Gatwick, a 245-room hotel which takes dramatic steps towards a Jetsons-style future.

Rooms start at £59 a night, but for the first time in a UK hotel, each step of entry - from booking to getting in the door - can be done on a smartphone.

BLOC's mobile app even means a new tech-savvy generation of travellers can control room features 'such as multi layered lighting, Samsung air conditioning, electric blackout blinds and Samsung Smart LED TV' from their phones. 

Guests of a more Luddite persuasion can use the Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 tablet present in every room to do the same.  

As the hyperbolic blurb reads: "This integrated technology offering is the most advanced of any hotel in the UK. A super-fast broadband connection and free Wi-Fi complete the picture."

Just don't forget your phone charger, or you could be in that room for longer than even ByHours would let you book for...

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