Forget digital technology, these hotels have lending libraries, vintage vinyl, and more low-tech amenities.

By Laura Itzkowitz
December 21, 2015
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Boro Hotel New York
Boro Hotel
| Credit: Floto + Warner

In this digital age, it’s not easy to unplug while traveling, especially with hotel companies putting an emphasis on high-tech amenities. Most properties now offer free Wi-Fi, iPod docks come standard in many hotel rooms, and Netflix streaming is becoming more available. But what about those of us who can’t get on board with Kindle, who love the feeling of holding a book, and think there is simply no substitute for thumbing through the pages of a glossy magazine? It may be rare to find good old-fashioned forms of analogue entertainment, but low-tech amenities are making a comeback at boutique hotels. Far from seeming outdated, a curated lending library or vintage vinyl collection now seems like a badge of sophistication. Luckily, some hoteliers intent on sharing their passions with guests are embracing this old-school trend. These four new hotels each offer a unique form of analogue entertainment.

The Restoration in Charleston

After a complete transformation, the Restoration in Charleston has re-opened with a new look inspired by nostalgic Americana, updated with plenty of modern and vintage amenities. Cory Ingram, principal of Identity Atélier, found inspiration in the city’s rich history and incorporated elements of it into the design, from the Port Mercantile shop to paving bricks from the city’s streets sitting on chests of drawers in the rooms. Most interesting is the culture library, curated by Assouline, which is stocked with tomes pertaining to Charleston’s history, including some rare vintage books. Guests are free to borrow the books, bring them to their rooms, and even purchase them to bring home. The hotel’s concierges will take on the role of librarians, educating guests about the city’s legacy and attractions.

Boro Hotel in Long Island City, New York

At the Boro Hotel in Queens, New York City, guests check in on laptops and use magnetized key cards, but they also have access to some low tech amenities: a collection of books, magazines, and newspapers in the lobby. The borough’s first design-centric boutique hotel has subscriptions to the New York Times, Financial Times, Dwell, Wallpaper*, Bazaar, Saturdays, and Cultured. Guests can borrow the magazines and newspapers to read in the lobby while enjoying a meal at the café or just hanging out.

ROOST Rittenhouse in Philadelphia

ROOST, a boutique extended-stay hotel brand debuted its first property in Philadelphia’s Center City in May, offering chic apartment-like accommodations that bridge the gap between hotel and Airbnb. ROOST’s second location, set to open in early 2016, will feature a vinyl record collection in the lobby. CEO Randall Cook has a passion for music and hopes to help people rediscover the joy of listening to an album all the way through, as the artist intended, rather than jumping from song to song, as we tend to do when streaming music. “We want our guests to be able to experience a high fidelity audio experience that has a very different sound than most of us have become accustomed to in the post iPod world. Analog sound has a textured quality that is lacking from today’s digitalized world of streaming music services,” he said.

Taconic Hotel in Manchester, Vermont

Kimpton’s newest hotel has a fun, quirky perk. The Taconic Hotel gives guests the option to relax and channel their inner artist with adult coloring books. The custom books were created in partnership with the Southern Vermont Arts Center and feature seasonal works of art on display at the center, just a couple miles away from the hotel. Studies have shown that coloring relieves stress and helps adults as well as kids unwind. Guests can request the complimentary books along with colored pencils from the guests service agents at the front desk.

Laura Itzkowitz is a contributing digital editor at Travel + Leisure and author of New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lauraitzkowitz.