Relaxing in Nirvana German Laboratory Dreams up Hotel of the Future

Cocktails delivered by robot, panorama windows-cum-television-screens, beds which rock you to sleep: Welcome to the hotel room of the 21st century, the brainchild of a German team of researchers.

Bored of boxy hotel rooms where luxury amounts to a mini bar and a remote control for the television set? Take a stroll around the flashy, gadget-laden hotel room of the future, as created by the German research organisation, the Fraunhofer Society, which has its sights set on revamping hotels as we know them.

Its team of scientists and engineers have built a prototype in their 1,500 square meter 'laboratory' in Duisberg, in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. And it consigns carpeted box-rooms firmly to the past. Firstly the room itself is completely round. A centerpiece is a massive window, shaped like an over-sized ski mask, which by day gives hotel guests a view of the landscape, but at night transforms into a screen where films can be projected.

Changes also take place underfoot. Its carpet is lined with sensors which monitor the guest's arrival and, without delay, heats the room to the required temperature. The bed simulates a light pendulum motion. "It feels as if you were being gently rocked from a seven meter long rope," project leader Vanessa Borkmann said. "It's like being in Nirvana."

The frequently humble hotel bathroom is revamped into the "Future-spa." Here infrared beams from the walls can instantly transform it into a sauna and up to two people can bathe in the whirlpool set in the floor.

Meanwhile, room service also gets a modern twist: at the touch of a switch, a robot delivers the drink of your choice.

The creation may sounds like a futuristic gadgetry fest but, in reality, it responds to top end hotels worldwide which are already toying with conventions and standards when it comes to holiday accommodation. In Songjiang, China, guests can opt for underwater suites, minimalist rooms with a giant aquarium providing the walls. In the Swedish ice hotel, tourists relax in an igloo hotel which is permanently kept at five degrees. Beds are covered by animal pelts.

And such ventures have lifted the bar for German hotels -- something which is all too clear to Klaus Scherer head of the Duisberg innovation center. "Here, hotel rooms are still an innovation-free zone," he said.

With reporting by Frank Thadeusz


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