Smart business hotels where work meets play

CNN  — 

The line between work and play is more blurred than ever. A new generation of mobile workers has traded cubicles for coffee shops, and offices for hotel rooms around the world.

As long as digital nomads have Wi-Fi and a laptop, they can get the job done just about anywhere – be it from the pool, beach bar, or a trendy restaurant. By 2022, the global mobile workforce is expected to grow from 1.45 billion in 2016 to 1.87 billion, accounting for 42.5% of the worldwide workforce.

A handful of hotels have answered the call for “bleisure” travel – offering business-meets-leisure experiences that emphasize thoughtful technology, well-designed communal spaces and networking opportunities. From Amsterdam to Hong Kong to San Francisco, these innovative addresses aim to help digital nomads thrive.

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Volkshotel, Amsterdam

Volkshotel: glass-fronted work cabins in the Werkplaats.

Built in a former newspaper building from the 1960s, the 172-room Volkshotel emerged from extensive renovations to welcome a new generation of nomadic creatives. This Amsterdam hotel is a hive of activity around the clock.

There’s a popular restaurant and buzzing club on the top floor, a cocktail bar in the basement and the hotel’s signature Werkplaats – aka a cafe with flexible co-working tables.

Offering lots of networking opportunities, the hotel is also home to Broedplaats VKG – a workspace for local entrepreneurs equipped with 85 dedicated hot desks, offices and multimedia studios. Or guests can simply work in their room, where a window-seat work nook, silk screens and views of Amsterdam will get creative juices flowing.

Throughout the hotel, there are several nods to the former journalistic digs – magnified newspaper cut-outs, ink raster patterns, photography and an annual theater festival with thought-provoking performances.

Volkshotel; Wibautstraat 150, 1091 GR, Amsterdam; +31 20 2612 100

Zoku, Amsterdam

Inspired by a shift in work and lifestyle habits around the globe, the founders of Zoku designed this smart short- and long-term stay with mobile professionals in mind. Decked out in warm wood and Scandinavian style, the loft-like rooms feature thoughtful layouts and large dining tables to facilitate deadlines and meetings.

Meanwhile, fully equipped kitchens, espresso machines and international outlets in every corner ensure batteries are fully charged.

On request, Zoku also offers a handy “office toolbox” with handy markers, rubber bands and more. And should the need arise, there’s also a 3D printing service available. Whether guests are in the colorful Living Room or sharing a table in one of the Communal Working Areas, the hotel’s open-plan design and communal tables aim to connect bright minds from around the world.

Zoku; Weesperstraat 105, 1018 VN Amsterdam, The Netherlands; +31 20 811 2811

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Hotel Zetta, San Francisco

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Built inside a renovated neo-classical building in San Francisco’s SoMa (South of Market Street) neighborhood, Hotel Zetta feels more like a start-up office than a hotel.

In the lobby’s S&R Lounge, you’ll find a creative space with communal tables for work, a cocktail bar, sofas, videos games, a pool table, meeting rooms, a lineup of Mac computers and a Plinko game wall. Upstairs, the 116 rooms were designed with well-heeled business travelers in mind. Inspired by a butcher’s block, a beautiful wood desk converts into a standing desk on request.

In contrast to antiques and classic decor, each room comes with high-tech features: Samsung smart TV, G-LINK connectivity for mobile-to-TV streaming and a Jawbone Big Jambox stereo. Hotel Zetta also comes equipped with a Demo Room for product debuts, a quirky Playroom for ping pong and brainstorming sessions and a conference room for more wheeling and dealing.

Hotel Zetta; 55 5th Street, San Francisco, California, 94103, US; +1 415 543 8555

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Ace Hotel London Shoreditch

Ace Hotel: The rooftop terrace bar offers views over the East London skyline.

The Ace Hotel in London – or, really, any Ace Hotel around the world – knows exactly what digital nomads are looking for: spacious common areas, comfortable rooms, constant connectivity, and quality coffee. Catering to a stylish crowd, the slick hotel is on the main drag in Shoreditch, a longtime creative and industrial hub in East London.

Keeping with the area’s enterprising spirit, the hotel sees a host of remote workers descend on its versatile lobby every day for meetings, a juice bar, fresh donuts and free Wi-Fi.

It might have something to do with the artisanal lattes – Bulldog Edition coffee shop connects with the 24-hour lobby and spacious Gallery Bar. Creative vibes continue into the guest rooms, which feature large oak tables for work or dining, vinyl collections, record players and acoustic guitars.

Ace Hotel London Shoreditch; 100 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JQ, England; +44 20 7613 9800

Ovolo Southside, Aberdeen, Hong Kong

An innovative concept from Ovolo hotels, the Mojo Nomad program aims to help entrepreneurs balance travel, work and life with a combination hotel and co-working space.

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Debuted at Ovolo Southside and Ovolo NoHo – both in Hong Kong – the program enables budding entrepreneurs to stay for days, weeks, or months at a time. The deal includes discounted rates, daily breakfast, all-day snacks, complimentary citywide Wi-Fi, invitations to industry networking events and easy access to the hotel’s 24-7 co-working spaces.

Both locations offer a few standards perks, such as free minibar, breakfast, and a daily happy hour at the versatile Lo Lounge.

Ovolo Southside; 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong; +852 3460 8100

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Yotel, New York City

Yotel: Home to New York's largest outdoor hotel terrace.

About five minutes from Times Square, neon-clad Yotel appears ready to blast off from New York on a space mission.

Galactic decor aside, the futuristic spot is full of time-saving, tech-savvy details – think touch-screen check-in machines, an automated “Yobot” that leases out luggage lockers and a mobile concierge app dubbed “Shaggy.”

Across the hotels’ abundant common areas, there’s fast Wi-Fi; an open-plan cafe that doubles as an unofficial co-working space; a dedicated floor for meetings, project launches and conferences; and the largest outdoor hotel terrace in the city for after-work drinks.

Designed to feel like business-class cabins, bright white interiors and purple accents set the tone of the 713 high-voltage rooms. Another clever touch: Serta smart beds stow away into the wall to free up space during the day, only to slide into place with the push of a button when it’s time to power down.

Yotel; 570 Tenth Avenue, New York, New York, US, 10036; +1 646 449 7700

The Epiphany, Palo Alto, California

The Epiphany: Tidy the bed before inviting colleagues to your hospitality suite.

Conveniently located in the start-up hub of Palo Alto, The Epiphany attracts entrepreneurs and remote workers from all over the world thanks to its strategic location, surrounded by an abundance of VC firms.

Conceived to encourage creativity and networking, the Silicon Valley address features spacious communal areas and an incoming NOBU Palo Alto restaurant (opening summer 2017) that will double as a classy meeting spot.

Hustling professionals can stay wired in the smart hotel rooms, where Illy espresso machines, private terraces, free Wi-Fi and an efficient remote concierge service streamline the experience. Instead of an indulgent minibar stocked with candy and Coke, a Fresh Fridge offers guests healthier options to stay on top of their game – salads, homemade granola bars and yogurt.

Added bonus: For travelers accompanied by a four-legged associate, the dog-friendly hotel offers perks for pups too.

The Epiphany, 180 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, US, 94301; +1 800 224 6000

Mama Shelter, Rio de Janeiro

Mama Shelter: Bohemian chic to match the artsy Santa Teresa district.

A creative haven for innovators and artists, the Mama Shelter hotel brand boasts locations in key cities around the world. The latest to join the fold? A 50-room boutique address in Rio de Janeiro.

The hotel’s colorful decor lends itself to the artsy district of Santa Teresa, where boutiques and cafes mingle with art galleries and colonial Portuguese architecture.

Bohemian-chic rooms come with large windows and bold artwork, while the communal spaces are full of pleasant surprises such as leafy courtyards, a rooftop bar and a game room. On the ground floor, a bright and airy restaurant doubles as a co-working space with communal tables, private nooks and stadium-style wooden seating.

For brainstorm sessions and collaborations, a series of cool and clever meeting spaces – dubbed Les Ateliers – will help you get down to business.

Mama Shelter, Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno, 05 CEP: 20240-290, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; +55 21 3980 0300

M Beta, Charlotte, North Carolina

M Beta: Relaxed communal dining.

Marriott International has also tapped into the bleisure trend with its own “travel innovation lab” M Beta, which debuted at the Charlotte Marriott City Center.

What’s new? This Marriott address has reinvented the experience from top to bottom, including a self-serve mobile key and app, a mobile concierge, as well as tap-to-order room service, TV streaming services and a flexible events hub.

The rooms have been done up with multifunctional living areas for work and play – complete with an in-room entertainment suite that includes Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Hulu and Crackle and more. Downstairs, the Great Room offers an open place to relax, hold meetings and catch up on work with a coffee – or cocktail – in hand.

While the project is in beta mode, guests can offer feedback during their stay – using “live beta buttons” located in key areas of the hotel.

M Beta, 100 West Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202, US; +1 704 333 9000

COQ, Paris

COQ: Cozy and chic workspaces in every corner.

A design-savvy new address in the heart of Paris’s creative 13th arrondissement, COQ is all about fostering a “community of quality” – which translates to warm hospitality and practical, multipurpose spaces.

Mobile professionals will find unconventional work spaces in every corner of the property, from the 50 chic guest rooms to the cozy fireplace, at the farm-to-table restaurant or in the versatile COQ living room.

When it comes to the location, the neighborhood is also a draw for entrepreneurs and wandering creatives. Nearby, find one of the top animation schools in the world, successful start-up incubators, and a long lineup of entrepreneurial businesses.

COQ, 15, Rue Édouard Manet, 75013, Paris, +33 1 4586 3599