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4 great hotels for digital nomads

Why hotels are reinventing themselves as co-working spaces

The hotel business centre: a dreary space tucked away on a mezzanine floor, empty except for a single harassed executive desperately trying to get the printer to work. Well, that was then. This is today: hotels are eagerly joining the co-working revolution. They’re investing in airy, open, all-day spaces where guests and incomers alike can plug in their laptops, have meetings and make a dent in the global supply of coffee beans.

Investing in: but also profiting from. For hotels, otherwise unprofitable times of the day and underused spaces now hum to the sounds of the entrepreneurial and millennial.

Ace Hotel, New York

Hotel trends, Ace Hotel New York

Gorgeous early 20th century building aside, the first thing you’ll notice when you walk into Ace Hotel New York’s lobby is the glow of laptop screens atop long, communal tables. The busy atmosphere is offset by sky-high ceilings; wood-panelled walls; comfy, L-shaped sofas; mosaic tile floors; and a welcoming vibe that’s surprisingly devoid of pretension.

There are a few more perks to working at Ace, namely world-class coffee from Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters, countless outlets to keep your gear charged and a cocktail bar that often eases into the evening with DJ sets or live music.

The lobby is the main hub for remote workers, but most of the larger guest rooms also include a desk – or dining table – where you can hole up for an afternoon
if you prefer to work in your pyjamas.

Eaton, Hong Kong

Hotel trends, Eaton Hong Kong
Lit Ma/Common Studio

Last year, Hong Kong welcomed Mojo Nomad’s upscale hostel concept (complete with co-working common areas) and Kerry Hotel’s Kafnu co-working community to its hotel line-up. Next up? Eaton HK, which unveils a total revamp this September at the hands of international design firm AvroKO.

But a facelift isn’t the only thing that’s new. The hotel in Kowloon’s Jordan neighbourhood will emerge as much more than just a place to rest your head, introducing its own media company, arts hub (with a gallery, professional recording studios and live music venues), wellness centre and two levels of co-working spaces.

Dubbed Eaton House, the co-working members’ club focuses on socially conscious businesses. For HK$250 per day, hotel guests can also access the co-working spaces, where they’ll enjoy drinks and snacks, meeting rooms, panel discussions, film screenings and workshops, plus lots of opportunities to mingle with Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs and creatives.

Co-working space aside, the entire hotel caters to remote workers with the communal tables at The Astor restaurant, the loungey lobby and the Eaton Food Hall (now open) – a 10-vendor dining destination with extensive seating space.

CitizenM, London

Hotel trends, CitizenM - Tower of London
Richard Powers/CitizenM hotels

CitizenM debuted in Amsterdam in 2008 and has 12 locations around the world, from London to Taipei (with a second New York hotel opening next month). The ‘M’ stands for Mobile. But for all the automatic check-ins and cashless payments, the public areas are deliberately cosy, lo-fi and studenty.

At the glass-and-limestone outpost in Tower Hill, the lobby feels like an enormous living room. You can also take your work to a table on the terrace, or to the cloudM rooftop bar for 360-degree views of Central London. Your room is hardly more than a pod: but you get a king-size bed, free VOIP calls, free movies on demand and a ‘mood pad’ device to change the lighting, temperature and alarm setting.

RYSE, Seoul

Hote trends, RYSE
Kim Yong Kwan

The new kid on the block in Seoul’s Hongdae entertainment district, RYSE opened in May as a creative wonderland. The 274-room hotel caters to designers and artists, musicians and writers with fresh luxe-meets-raw interiors designed by London studio Michaelis Boyd.

There’s no formal co-working programme, but that’s all part of the fluid mentality at RYSE. In the lobby, you’ll find a mix of lounge areas and communal tables, meeting spaces and a cafe. The endless stream of configurations will appeal to flexible workers, not to mention facilitating conversation – if you happen to be in town to network and exchange ideas.

On the third floor, the library is another popular spot for remote workers. In homage to all things print, the walls are artfully stacked with niche magazines, quirky books and vinyl records that will prove to be either creative ammunition or a welcome distraction.

Yet another source of inspiration is found in the guestrooms, which are full of original works by local and international artists such as Na Kim, Park Yeo-joo, Laurent Segretier and Cody Hudson. You’ll find more art in the basement Arario Gallery, which is devoted to Asian works. Meanwhile, Seoul’s highly creative culture pervades the atmosphere with a spectacular line-up of art, design and music events that champion local creativity.

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