It's easy to find a hotel app that lets you book rooms, check in, and order room service (after all, they're in this business to make money). But these six apps take it to the next level—audio guides, cooking instructions, even 360-degree room tours from your iPad.
Windsor Court Hotel New Orleans, Louisiana
Home to a $10 million art collection dating back to the 17th century, The Windsor Court hotel used to bring in local docents for tours. Now, guests who download the app (available on iPhone, iPad, and Android) can take an audio tour of the impressive art collection, which includes a painting by William Powell Frith (originally housed at the Royal Academy of London), a portrait of King George V and Queen Mary by J. Barton, and a Thomas Thornycroft bronze sculpture.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Big Island, Hawaii
Ever wondered how ancient Polynesians first discovered Hawaii? The Huaka’i app (available on iTunes) teaches you all about the culture, history, and land of historic Ka'upulehu in an hour-long, self-guided audio tour. The resort's Cultural Center manager, “Uncle” Earl Kamakaonaona Regidor, serves as narrator—plus, there's an interactive property map that lets you know when there's an interesting site nearby.
Fairmont Beijing Beijing
The Fairmont teamed with the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center to build its Biking Tour of the Hutongs app—a half-day, self-guided tour through the city's streets and alleyways, complete with an audio narrative (in English and Chinese) about the city's history. The Fairmont is within biking distance to the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City, plus, the hotel supplies mountain bikes for guests to use.
Club Med Worldwide
Scope out your room before you arrive—or just take a 30-second vacation at home—with Club Med's iPad app. It features a 360-degree virtual tour of more than 80 resorts, allowing you to move the device as if you were walking through the property.
You might not be able to make any of these crazy room service dishes, but you can recreate recipes from hundreds of InterContinental hotels with the chain's Kitchen Cookbook app (available on iTunes). Search by location or dish name, then sort, share, and make notes on individual recipes; the app will create a shopping list of ingredients once you've planned out the menu. Or just choose the “Inspire Me” option, and let the app suggest a meal.
W Hotels Worldwide
W Hotels Worldwide unveiled its first app (available on iTunes) at the International Music Summit in Ibiza this spring. The highlight: An integrated music platform with exclusive content curated by W’s Global Music Director, Michaelangelo L’Acqua—he’s the man behind the Symmetry Live series that brings emerging artists to perform in W Hotels (think Ellie Goulding, Cee Lo Green, Janelle Monáe, and Neon Trees).