In these crazy pandemic times (I’m writing this in October, 2020) hygiene and cleanliness are keys to a safe hotel stay. Anything you can do to remove the need to touch things or come face to face with a hotel employee or wait in line in a busy lobby, makes your hotel stay safer.
Hotel apps can take a lot of the booking and even the check-in process into the virtual world to help protect you. Even in non-pandemic times, hotel apps can help busy travelers save time by streamlining the booking and check-in process. Some hotel apps, like Hilton’s Hilton Honors App even add amenities like a digital key to further streamline the process and remove points of contact from checking into a hotel room.
My Pandemic Road Trip
On a recent road trip to Austin, Texas to drive the new 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost, I stopped in El Paso as a midway point on the 1,000 mile drive from my home in Palm Springs. I used the Hilton Honors app to choose my hotel and selected the Tru by Hilton East Loop 375 in El Paso.
The first part of the touchless hotel stay process was booking the room, easily done on the Hilton Honors app. The search starts with the dates of stay and the city, the results then show all the Hilton properties in that area. Remember Hilton brands include everything from Waldorf Astoria to DoubleTree and Embassy Suites (there are 18 different brands in the Hilton hotel family). Search results show the per night prices for easy comparison.
The app shows you the Hilton Honors rate, which is heavily discounted. If you select a hotel, you can see other rates (AAA, bonus points rate, government rate, etc.). I booked the Tru by HIlton El Paso East for $90.95 per night, which came to $106.87 with various taxes.
Tru by Hilton
Tru by Hilton is a relatively new Hilton brand and this specific El Paso hotel was brand new. According to Hilton, Tru by Hilton hotels “embrace vibrant simplicity and are fun and engaging”. I found it to be a modern, stylish, minimalist budget hotel. The room was smartly designed, everything was clean and new and I liked the 24-hour snack bar (and pool table and foosball table) in the hotel lobby. The hotel had a small yet well-equipped gym as well a very nice outdoor, heated swimming pool.
This Tru by Hilton hotel was part of Hilton’s CleanStay program, a COVID-related initiative with brand partner Lysol, to thoroughly clean and sanitize guestrooms between stays.
Checking In and Choosing My Room
Before arriving, I used the Hilton Honors app to check-in, by clicking on the check-in button. The app then allows you to choose your room. Not just your room type or location, you see a map of the hotel and the available rooms in real time and you can choose the specific room you want. Want to be on a low floor, on a high floor, near the elevators, away from the elevators, it’s all up to you.
The Hilton Digital Key
Perhaps the best part of the Hilton Honors app is the Hilton Digital Key. The digital key uses your phone (via Bluetooth) to access your room. Not only your room, your phone also lets you access the hotel itself. I arrived late at night and used the app’s digital key to unlock the back door of the hotel. Then I went straight to my room (the room I had picked out on the app) and used the app to open the door. From my car to inside my hotel room without touching anything (other than the elevator button and door handles) or having to talk to anyone.
A Touchless Arrival
The digital key is the “key” to this whole touchless process. Once you’ve reserved the room and checked in on the app, you can enter the hotel and go straight to your room without having to stop at the front desk. Of course you’ll need to have a credit card on file on the app for your room charges and deposit and the digital key feature isn’t available at every hotel, or for every stay.