Hotels Lure Guests With Lovely Libraries, Top-notch Turntables and Other Analog Amenities

Hotels in general are becoming more automated, more high-tech. These high-end accommodations buck the trend and offer a dose of digital detox

Welcome to Analog Week at Billy. Despite being an all-digital magazine ourselves, we're sharing some distinctly non-digital trends, destinations and activities with our readers because everyone needs to go offline sometimes. 

It’s the year 2030: I land at Newark Liberty International Airport and my Uber is waiting for me outside (I’ve already pre-programmed a pickup from the airport to the hotel.) Upon arrival, I check in at the unmanned kiosk with my phone. A robot glides down from the corridor to haul my luggage and lead me upstairs. “Welcome Ms. Gonzales,” it says enthusiastically. “While you’ve been travelling, 456 people liked your Facebook post, and your Instagram story has been viewed 1,003 times.”

Inside the room, I use the hotel app to customize my lighting preferences, the angle of my moveable bed and to fill out my skin profile – extremely dry, dry, acne prone, combination, oily. They’ll deliver my four-step skincare regimen to the room via drone. The smart TV already knows my preferred Netflix shows, the wireless Bose speaker was already playing the “piano and chill” playlist I’d favourited on Spotify the night before, and my meeting itinerary for the next couple of days shines out from the glass-surfaced, touch-screen desk in the corner of the room. “Reminder!” barks the hotel’s Siri, mid-Beethoven Sonata No. 8. “Your one-hour meeting with Daniel is downstairs in the co-working space in 25 minutes.”

This isn’t how hotels work quite yet, but this level of automation is well on its way. Personal customization and spooky digitizing could be the future of the hotel space. And according to a 2016 survey by the GBTA Foundation, among the top technological innovations desired by business travellers are keyless room entry, digital guest profiles and body sensors that monitor whether you’re inside the room (see graph).  

What digital and technological amenities do business travellers want?


@ Statista / Sources: GlobalTravelNews, GBTA

According to surveys, the number one tech item that hotel guests want is enough bloody power outlets

Cue the reaction.

It may seem inevitable that the hospitality industry will eventually go pure digital. But for many customers, hotels remain a cherished escape from the hyperconnectivity of the 21st century. For them, there are still properties out there with the warm touch of analog, whether it be in-room turntables playing vinyl, libraries or art. Here are some hotels – from New York to Boston, Toronto to Montreal, Newfoundland and beyond – partaking in the anti-digital revolution.


The Ludlow, New York

The 1,000-square-foot penthouse of the Ludlow Hotel houses what Lower East Side music aficionados would call a precious relic of the 1970’s: a classic, Technics 1200 turntable, which previously called Studio 54 home. The hotel’s collection of vinyl ranges from Bob Dylan to Blondie and Interpol, and if you’re in the mood to shop, take an 11-minute walk from The Ludlow and you’re at Deadly Dragon Sound, where you’ll find a plethora of vinyl collectibles.

180 Ludlow St., 212-432-1818

The Ludlow, New York

The penthouse suite comes with a sweet record player

The Roxy, New York

Built in 2015, The Roxy Tribeca evokes Mad Men-era ambience with its vibrant arts energy and plush décor. The hotel’s live music spaces, The Roxy Upstairs and The Django, feature DJs and jazz. The party doesn’t stop once guests retire upstairs. [It sure doesn’t – much of the din is audible from some of the rooms, so if you’re a light sleeper, beware. – ed.] Certain premium rooms are equipped with a Teac turntable attached to Marshall Bluetooth speakers and vinyl records curated by the hotel’s very own music director.

2 Avenue of the Americas, 212-519-6600

The Roxy Hotel, New York

More in-room vinyl, this time at the vaguely steampunk Roxy hotel

Hotel Commonwealth, Boston

Hotel Commonwealth pays homage to Boston’s greatest, late underground music venue, The Rathskeller (also known as “The Rat”) in Kenmore Square. There’s a dedicated guest suite called the “Rat Room” with a bass guitar belonging to Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys as well as vinyl featuring Rat artists like The Police, R.E.M., and the Talking Heads.

500 Commonwealth Ave., 617-933-5000


Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland

The 29-room, oceanside Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland contains a library painted a washed, pale green. It’s the exact colour of the old Fisherman’s Union general stores that once dotted the area. The library was always meant to be everything Newfoundland, carrying books on the province’s history, poetry and commerce. It even holds encyclopedias owned by the late Joey Smallwood, one of Newfoundland’s most controversial politicians – and the one that convinced the formerly independent dominion to join Canada.

210 Main Rd, Joe Batt's Arm, Newfoundland, 709-658-3444

Library Hotel, New York

Housing more than 6,000 books ordered using the Dewey decimal system, the Library Hotel in Manhattan contains books on social science, philosophy and the arts. Each of the 10 guest floors represents one of the 10 major categories of the DDC. The fourth floor contains all the books on languages; the fifth floor, math and science; the sixth, technology…

299 Madison Ave, 212-983-4500

Library Hotel

Are there overdue fines at a hotel library?


In homes and in hotel rooms, analog clocks have become a rarity. At the Andaz ByWard Market in Ottawa and Hotel William Gray located in Old Port, Montreal, analog alarm clocks add a hint of nostalgia and design flair. You’d be surprised to know that some guests actually opt out of using their iPhone alarms during their stay, in exchange for the little clock’s morning chime. It's charming to wake up to a real clock, and guests often take them home as souvenirs (for a small fee of course).

325 Dalhousie St., Ottawa, 613-321-1234

421 Rue Saint Vincent, Montreal, 514-656-5600

Andaz ByWard Market Ottawa

The bedside, stainless steel alarm clock manufactured in Amsterdam

The James Hotel, Chicago

Located amid the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, The James Hotel takes you on a visual journey from the moment you walk into the lobby. Featuring installations and graffiti and illustrations, The James hotel’s mandate is to feature emerging and prominent artists from around the world. The hand-screened birch tree mural in the lobby was created by New Brunswick artist Andrea Mantin.

55 E Ontario St., 312-337-1000

The Ace Hotel, New York

In partnership with The Impossible Project, an organization that wants to reinvent analog instant photography in a digital world, the Ace Hotel presents One Year In from November 27 to December 27. It’s an art installation of Polaroid images submitted by analog photography enthusiasts across the world, for people who aren’t ready to say bye to real, tangible pictures.

20 W 29th St, New York, 212-679-2222

The Drake Devonshire, Ontario

At the Drake Devonshire in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Team Macho, the hotel’s artist-in-residence for December, takes old paintings and artwork, and spruces them up with quirky, unexpected characters and contemporary elements to juxtapose old with new. The result? Dated wall art becomes relevant again.

24 Wharf St., Wellington, Ontario, 613-399-3338

Published Tuesday, November 22nd 2016

Header image credit: The library at the Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland / Alex Fradkin



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