If it sometimes feels like the only free things in a five star hotel are the lightglobes and running water, Ace Hotel New York's offer of a free laptop to use along with free 3G and Wi-Fi is a refreshing change.
Anyone who books at the hotel during the US Summer will have free Google Chromebooks to use during their stay. The first hint of the freebie comes on the slip-case that contains the room key. "All you need is love, and the internet. (We put a little surprise in your room to help with the internet part.)"
"Of course," the hotel adds, "if you take it home with you we’ll have to charge you a bunch of money and your firstborn child."
The Chromebooks -- laptops running Google's new Chrome OS -- cost $499 if you do decide you want to keep it.
Virgin America is running a similar loan program for travellers on some its routes to borrow and use a Chromebook with free inflight Wi-Fi.
They're eminently suitable for transient use, as Chromebooks store no information on the laptop itself; everything is accessed through the web browser in the same way Gmail or Google Docs are on any other laptop.
The Samsung-made Chromebook being offered by Virgin America and the Ace Hotel New York, is slightly larger than the Acer version. It offers 8.5 hours of battery life and a 12.1-inch display, while the smaller Acer has a 6-hour battery and an 11.6-inch display.
The hotel has made a custom slipcover it says it is particularly proud of, along with a tour guide produced by Superfuture of the top nine things you should do in New York City, along with your Chromebook.
People wanting to borrow a Chromebook for a trial run don't even need to be guests of the hotel, as long as they're prepared to leave a credit card authorisation.
The hotel says, "if you’re just stopping by the lobby and want to borrow one while you’re having a drink or a cup of coffee, ask the front desk to sign one out for you."
Ace Hotel New York is a 12-story hotel in Midtown Manhattan, near the Theater District, with a subway stop right around the corner. It describes itself as an "anti-boutique hotel" -- you can read more about what that means at a recent New York Times review.
Its funky rooms are personality-filled -- more like small, home-furnished apartments (some with vintage furniture) than a typical five star hotel.
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