Sleep in the future at Budapest’s new app-controlled KViHotel
It sounds like a snippet from a science-fiction novel: “Boarding a transoceanic flight, a man uses a glowing handheld gadget to check into his hotel for the night thousands of miles away in Budapest. Arriving after midnight at the hotel on a downtown side street, the man holds his glowing device up to the lobby door and it slides open; the same gizmo is his room key. Inside, the sleek sleeping chamber is air-conditioned to the exact temperature he set upon landing at Budapest Airport.” This may all seem futuristic, but now this very experience is possible at the newly opened KViHotel Budapest.
Of course, the “glowing handheld gadget” is the now-ubiquitous smartphone considered central to everyday life in our modern times, so it is not surprising that an enterprising Hungarian team wondered how hotel stays could be brought into the 21st century by transferring hospitality-related roles into a new app that directly controls automated hotel amenities. The result is the new four-star-quality KViHotel Budapest, operated with the TMRW Hotels app – an accommodations-management system covering almost every element of a guest experience, from check-in to ordering a taxi to placing a virtual “do not disturb” sign outside your guestroom door.
Introduced as Europe’s first hotel controlled by guest-owned smartphones, the KViHotel Budapest is sited on slender Nyár Street near leafy Klauzál Square in buzzing District VII, within what was formerly a generic office building. Following a top-to-bottom renovation, the five-story structure now features contemporary design immediately evident in the foyer and lobby lounge, where one or two servers provide refreshments and drinks between 8am and midnight – otherwise, beyond the necessary housekeeping staff, there are no regular employees onsite; instead of a reception desk, two mounted tablets offer guest assistance anytime.
Although this computerized approach towards professional hospitality is anathema to the traditional service standards at hotels that proudly feature front-desk agents, bellhops, and concierges, nowadays many travelers just want a place to sleep involving minimal human interaction, as evidenced by the success of Airbnb. With this in mind, the KViHotel Budapest team has goals beyond combining the amenities of a cosmopolitan hotel with the convenience of online transactions at their flagship property – while it was designed in affiliation with the launch of KViHotel Budapest, the TMRW Hotels app software is being marketed for use in other hotels and businesses worldwide.
In this regard, KViHotel Budapest is as much a showcase for the app and its business-management potential as it is a functioning four-star hotel – but it certainly fulfills the latter role, as well. The 40-room property features three types of accommodations (superior rooms, deluxe rooms, and junior suites) all stylishly equipped with wooden flooring, queen- or king-sized beds, a minibar with complimentary drinks and snacks, a laptop-sized safe, high-speed WiFi, a smart TV with satellite channels, a desk, and air-conditioning that can be controlled by guests with the TMRW Hotels app inside or outside of the hotel.
Naturally, the hotel’s lack of 24-hour staff and reliance on customers using their smartphones leads to some questions – what if a guest loses their smartphone while they’re out in the city, and thus can’t get back into their room? (Answer: The hotel entrance offers access to a 24-hour customer-services center, allowing guests to identify themselves and have their room unlocked remotely.) And what is to stop a guest from walking out with armfuls of towels and anything else in the room that isn’t nailed down? (Answer: The housekeepers check for damage and inventory whenever they service a room.)
Beyond the KViHotel’s inventive elements, the actual accommodations are spacious and appealing; guest rooms are appointed with comfortably understated furnishings and earth-toned curtains, while the lobby lounge is designed to be relaxed yet sophisticated enough for business meetings. Another design feature has an unexpected high-tech element – anyone staying in a courtyard-facing room can admire the stories-tall mural painted on an adjoining wall that portrays a humongous smartphone, and when guests aim their own phones at the mural to view it through the hotel’s affiliated LARA AR app, the painting displays a playful animation about the TMRW Hotels concept.
KViHotel Budapest is providing quite reasonable room rates of around 50 euros per night during the current soft-opening period; while prices may rise somewhat after the official launch date on March 20th, management aims to keep rates competitive with comparable four-star hotels as a way of passing on savings from the company’s low staffing levels – under the current business model, this 40-room hotel will never employ more than 15 workers.
We do hope that this hospitality-industry innovation won’t eventually result in all but the most exclusive hotels replacing their human employees with tablets; we would miss the accessibly regal pleasure of being warmly greeted by doormen and receptionists while striding through a hotel lobby. However, considering that Hungarians are renowned for both their inventive spirit and their hospitality, we certainly see great potential for the KViHotel Budapest model to fill a dynamic niche in the 21st-century hotel business while providing reasonably priced high-quality accommodations.
Budapest 1072, Nyár utca 32