What happened to the light switches? And the TV controller? And how about closing the blinds. Come to mention it, where’s the proper alarm clock that goes tick tock and scares you to death with a loud clang in the morning?
Granted, the stylish bijou room at Citizen M near the Gare de Lyon in Paris was smooth and spotless, no hard edges in sight and almost clinical in its whitetty whiteness. I thought I’d stepped through a wormhole and ended up in quarters on the starship Enterprise. The bed filled the entire wall under the window and the giant screen pulsed with the message ‘Bienvenue, Noel…’. We had no idea how to turn it off.
To one side of the room was a floor-to-ceiling pod in opaque glass, not the transporter, but the shower and toilet. There were no switches in the pod. Even the litter bin was beautifully curved so it fitted neatly into the allotted slot. But where was the light switch? And the bloody TV remote? The welcome message was getting on our nerves.
Siting prissily on the curvy shelf was an iPad, with the same welcome message, only smaller. This was the TV remote. It was also in charge of the aircon, blinds and scarily our mood, we suspected it might have something to do with the lights.
Noel, being the designated techie, pressed, swiped and pinched the little screen and managed to sort out the lights, there were a lot of lights. But then he found the mood setting and asked which I’d like, listing the options. ‘Business’, I said, more out of curiosity than anything else. The lights came on, brighter than bright, stirring music , the kind to do deals to, spluttered from the speakers. Maybe not, then.
‘How about party?’ he asked, hoping I’d say no. I said yes. The lights turned red, blue, green, yellow, a weird shade of orange. The shower pod lit up like a Dr Who prop, the screen jumped to life with what looked like hallucinogenic images, spinning smileys, the music throbbed and thrummed, I could feel a migraine coming on.
‘Agh no….let’s go for relaxing!’ One prod of the iPad and the lights dimmed, the screen became rolling countryside, birds sang, water flowed and splashed, which necessitated a trip to the pod. But it was good, we relaxed enough to want to sleep, if only we could find the light switch.
Noel thought he had the answer, a ‘go to sleep’ icon. I braced myself, fully expecting a Monty Python foot to come down from the ceiling. We were plunged into darkness as the blinds clanked shut. I wanted to read. I couldn’t.
Noel had managed to set a wake-up alarm with the magic iPad, we had no idea what to expect. We certainly didn’t expect, at 7am, a female voice to break the rhythm of Noel’s snores (definitely him snoring). ‘Quatre-vingt dix-neuf, quatre-vingt dix-huit, quatre-vingt…..’ Oh my goodness, the room was counting down, we really were on the Enterprise. I wasn’t going to wait until she got to ‘un’ and grabbed the iPad, swiping and prodding like a woman possessed. The counting stopped, the blinds lifted and the shower turned itself on at exactly the right temperature, actually I made that up, but I’ll bet there’s an app for that.
One day, all hotels will be like this, intelligent, responsive, hip, with efficient self check-in and a key card you can keep as a luggage tag. I’ll go back to Citizen M, if they’ll have me, but in the meantime, can we please have a bloody light switch?!