This article was originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "Service With a Smile: Why Hotels of the Future Are High-Touch, Not High-Tech."
Although it opened in 2011, YOTEL New York feels like it belongs in 2084, the same year the science-fiction film Total Recall is set. Quintessentially futuristic, the original cult classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger features robotic police officers, instant manicures, hovering cars, implanted memories, and skin-embedded cellphones. Its protagonist, Douglas Quaid, is a construction worker obsessed with vacationing on Mars.
One could easily imagine Quaid staying at a Martian outpost of YOTEL, a “minimal-service” hotel modeled after Japanese capsule hotels, which provide a large number of extremely small modular guest rooms for travelers willing to forgo all the services of a conventional hotel in exchange for convenient, affordable accommodations. These kinds of automated-service hotels may be a trend into the 2020s, but are they really hotels of the future?