When we were growing up and watching Kevin in Home Alone 2 chill in the Plaza Hotel presidential suite surrounded by room service goodies, staying at a hotel seemed like a dream. But these days we pretty much know what to expect when it comes to most lodgings; check in, mint on the pillow, maybe some nice art in the lobby. If that doesn’t exactly inspire you to book a two-night stay right away, we get it. Certain innovative accommodations, though, are breaking out of the routine and really making an impression on millennial travelers seeking something new. What if you could check in with a robot concierge, or skip check in entirely and unlock your room with your iPhone? What if you could choose that pillow from an artisanal menu? What if instead of nice art in the lobby, the lobby itself was an art museum? These are all real possibilities at these ten hotels redefining the travel experience.

1. The Selman Marrakech: Marrakech, Morocco

Set at the foot of the Atlas Mountains and less than ten minutes from the Marrakech medina, this 5-star luxury hotel designed by Jacques Garcia already creates a signature experience for its guests with its sumptuously appointed riad rooms, Moroccan-French fusion cuisine, and “equine ballet”—a unique display of their private Arabian purebred horse collection. But the Selman Marrakech seeks to make guests feel even more special with this year’s hire of Romain Vieljeux as their full-time Experience Manager. From custom menus to exclusive entertainment, his sole role is to design one-of-a-kind happenings tailored specifically to guests’ desires; an older couple whose first date was seeing Casablanca at a drive-in relived the magic of that night when the Experience Manager put together a romantic open-air screening of the film. Taking personalized travel to the next level, this hotel specializes in creating bespoke memories.

The Selman MarrakechPhoto Credit: The Selman Marrakech

2. Kittitian Hill: St. Kitts, West Indies

If golfing and eating are on your vacation to-do list, Kittitian Hill scores a hole-in-one. Their golf course, Irie Fields, is home to the world’s most edible 18 holes. Welsh designer/golf pro Ian Woonsam swapped typical golf course shrubs and trees for organic tropical crops bursting with fresh fruit, so you can literally pick-as-you-putt. Ask the well-informed caddies not just for tips on which iron to use, but which citrus is in season. The golfing greens are not only delicious, they’re also sustainable, because the ecologically managed vegetation reduces the course’s environmental impact. Kittitian Hill offers a Caribbean vacation experience that will definitely satisfy any golf lover’s hunger for something original.

Kittitian Hill golfPhoto Credit: Kittitian Hill

3. 21c Museum Hotels: Five U.S. locations

Art museums are at the top of anyone’s travel itinerary, but 21c Museum Hotels are making it so that you don’t even have to leave the lobby to get a museum experience. Borne of art collectors’ Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson’s drive to “make contemporary art a part of more people’s daily lives”, their five eclectic accommodations in Durham, Louisville, Cincinnati, Bentonville, and Lexington merge everything we love about boutique hotels and modern art museums. The thoughtfully designed spaces play home to both travelers and traveling exhibitions by up and coming world-class contemporary artists, with shows including MyMoon, an app-generated public artwork “at the intersection of the digital and the celestial”, and Asleep in the Cyclone, a site-specific sculpture which doubles as a functional hotel room, allowing the guest to truly sleep in art.

21c-Museum-Hotel tigerPhoto Credit: 21c Museum Hotels

4. Starwood Hotels & Resorts: 150+ locations

Hotel room key cards used to seem so futuristic, but Starwood Hotels is making them archaic with their new Starwood Preferred Guest Keyless program. At more than 150 Aloft, Element, and W hotels from Singapore to San Francisco, guests can now unlock the door to their hotel room using an app on their smartphone or Apple Watch. The revolutionary keyless entry takes the stress of misplacing your key card completely out of the picture–and traveling families and groups will appreciate not having to coordinate who holds onto the key card. If you want, you can even completely skip the front desk and simply check in using the app, which will send you a notification with your room number when it’s ready. Next we’ll expect to be let into our rooms via retina scans.

5. Hilton Hotels: 20 U.S. locations

It would be pretty sweet to have a personal driver who pulled up in front of the hotel and whisked you off to the city’s best sights—but while that’s probably a bit posh for most of us, Hilton’s new partnership with Uber might be the next best thing. No more waiting for the front desk to call you a cab, because the two brands have teamed up to offer members of Hilton HHonors (a free loyalty program) personalized and automated ride reminders which allows guests to seamlessly book rides to and from the hotel with the tap of a finger. Plus, their soon-to-launch Local Scene feature is the first time that the ride-sharing service has allowed another company access to its user-aggregated data. The duo’s digital guides will curate the top destinations visited by Uber riders across 20 U.S. cities, making it easy for travelers to get seamlessly from their hotel room to the hippest spot in town.

Hilton (techcrunchPhoto Credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

6. Loews Hotels & Resorts: 22 locations

Have you ever checked in to your room and taken an Instagram so good you thought, “The hotel should use this as an ad”? If you’re staying at a Loews Hotel, this could actually happen. The chain’s new Travel for Real campaign features candid, non-professional images mined from social media photos tagged at their 22 U.S. and Canada location. Social media is one of the biggest sources of travel inspiration for millennials, so it makes sense that Loews would create a campaign which communicates the un-posed (but probably not unfiltered) experience of staying at their hotels to potential guests. Instagram exhibitionists will jump at the chance to become an authentic spokesperson—who knows, maybe your hotel bathroom selfie could become Loews’ next double-page spread.

Loews HotelsPhoto Credit: Loews Hotels & Resorts

7. The Benjamin: New York City

When you’re jet-lagged from travel, is there anything worse than trying to catch some Z’s on a pillow that’s lumpy, rock hard, or flat as a crepe? The Benjamin Hotel feels you. That’s why this NYC boutique hotel introduced their Rest & Renew program headed up by sleep expert Rebecca Robbins. They take guest’s shuteye seriously, offering not only standard wake-up calls, but also introducing their own original Work-Down calls—a scheduled nighttime reminder for traveling workaholics when it’s time to power down and get some rest.  In addition, the Benjamin provides an array of snooze-inducing amenities like blackout curtains, eye masks, a lullaby music library and even a pillow menu featuring 10 different designs like Swedish memory foam, anti-snore and body pillows.

the-benjamin-hotels-pillowsPhoto Credit: The Benjamin

8. Aloft – Financial District: New York City

Aloft Hotels proved that they’re really into pampering guests when they took two activities that are already less-than-strenuous—ordering from room service and texting—and made them even simpler. Their new TiGi (Text it. Get it.) pilot program, the world’s first emoji-only room service menu, let’s guests order just about anything in the most indulgent way possible. For $10-$30, you can download one of six specialty kits of themed emojis and text them to hotel staff to get goodies instantly delivered to your room; there’s the Hangover kit for rough mornings after (including bananas, pain meds, and H20), the Munchies kit for late-night cravings (think brownies, chips, and pop), and the Surprise Me kit full of fun swag. We’ve got our fingers crossed that sending off the cat emoji will result in a bellboy knocking on the door with a basket of kittens…

AloftPhoto Credit: Aloft Manhattan Downtown

9. Raffles Le Royal Monceau: Paris, France

Art-loving visitors to Paris might feel overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of fantastic sights the City of Lights has to offer. 5-star Raffles hotel Le Royal Monceau makes sure that guests get a picture-perfect Parisian artistic experience not only with their onsite Art District gallery, in-house cinema, and contemporary art bookstore, but with their full-time Art Concierge. Consultant and cultural mediator Julie Eugène leads personalized visits of the hotel’s Art District gallery’s private collection, and keeps guests’ fingers on the pulse with her must-see cultural events and current art news on the hotel’s dedicated blog Art for Breakfast. Le Royal Monceau’s Art Concierge allows guests to go so much deeper than the Louvre, designing personalized plans which immerse you in the Parisian art scene with the best exhibitions, openings, performances, and concerts tailored to your tastes.

Galerie-Art-District-Le-RoyalPhoto Credit: Raffles Le Royal Monceau

10. Henn-na Hotel: Sasebo, Japan

It might not come as a surprise that the world’s first hotel staffed by robots is located in Japan. At the front desk of Henn-na Hotel, whose name means “strange”, guests are greeted by a lifelike female robot concierge, a velociraptor bellhop, and a mechanical arm which stores luggage. The hotel is part of Huis Ten Bosch, a Netherlands-themed amusement park in Nagasaki, but the concept is more than just a bizarre novelty—creator Hideo Sawada sought not only to reduce the hotel’s manpower but to increase its efficiency in all aspects, from energy saving technology like motion-sensitive lights, tablet TVs, facial recognition software, and cutting-edge climate control. Whether robot turndown service will become the norm or travelers will always prefer the human touch remains to be seen.

Dream it, Book it, Live it. 

robothotelhennanaPhoto Credit: AP
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