'Choose your room' digital check-in hotel opens: The Collectionist, Camperdown

Sydney's innerwest is now home to a new and rather different design hotel – one that offers a digital check-in process where guests can inspect available rooms before choosing the one they want to stay in. 

The Collectionist, a 39-room, three-level hotel located in Camperdown, four kilometres from Sydney's CBD, brings to life a new kind of hotel concept – there are no pre-allocated rooms at time of booking and no standardised room decor. With no two rooms at the hotel matching in style, colour, texture and design, guests are more likely to be intrigued to walk through and inspect available rooms before choosing one to check into.

A team of seven designers and 13 artists are the creative minds behind the individually designed rooms, which all feature a kitchenette (with microwave and bar fridge), an en suite and some opening onto courtyards and balconies. Guests have four room categories to choose from – Bootstrap, Moonshiner, Artisan and Tinkerer – each with a different price point. 

The hotel's launch marks the first of The Collectionist brand of hotels by Collectic Hotels. Daniel Symonds, chief executive and co-founder of Collectic Hotels, developed the idea for a digital check-in process after a car-hire experience in the US.

Speaking at the launch, Symonds said the experience of being able to inspect a variety of cars at pick-up, ones of different styles and colour, before choosing the one he hired, provided a personal ''tactile'' experience. This concept of choice and flexibility, he says, is what inspired him to develop a hotel concept that allows guests to inspect and choose a room that more closely matches their individual taste in style, design and experience.

How does 'choose your own room' work?

Guests will receive all check-in information via email or SMS, including pin-access to the hotel. On arriving, guests will be able to walk through the hotel and enter available rooms to inspect its design, layout, room size and furnishings. Once guests have decided on their room of choice, they send a reply SMS or email to the hotel and a pin is generated, all within minutes.

The digital aspect of the check-in process is fast – sending and receiving the pin takes only a few minutes; the amount of time it takes inspecting and selecting a room – not so much. Depending on the number of rooms available, and how much of a keen eye you have, you're likely going to need at least 20 minutes to walk through three levels of rooms,  an exercise that could either be invigorating or tiring, especially after a long-haul flight.

There is a lot to consider when choosing your own room, including room aspect, room size, balcony size, and then there is the design theme. The daring and strikingly different room designs may cause a lot of indecision, possible confusion and divided opinions, much like walking through a modern art gallery, where it's hard to pick your favourite artwork with some you'd rather just avoid completely. And, like an art gallery, there is a little description outside each room detailing the room's design concept and the artist (a very useful feature if you're completely unsure what the room is all about). 

But once you've decided on a room, the efficiency of having a pin-access only room becomes clearer – no swipe pass to lose or forget. But the catch is you need to remember your room pin, as well as the pin to access the hotel from the streets. Having a phone with local reception or roaming would be handy to receive all this check-in information and codes via email or SMS, something that might prove difficult for some overseas travellers without global roaming. But luckily, there are hotel staff, who doubles as the barman, on site to help you with your digital check-in.

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There's no cafe or restaurant on site (but Camperdown Commons and local cafes are within walking distance) but there are social drinks hosted by a bartender between 4pm and 8pm daily in the rather cosy, unconventional lobby area that doubles as a bar. The hotel is big enough to go an entire stay without any social interaction, so this ''personal touch'' is rather nice. 

Among the hotel's surprising features is that it doesn't feature any in-room TVs – a somewhat scary fact for potential guests, though how many of us watch TV when we stay at hotels anyway? 

According to Symonds, industry trends show travellers are now bringing their own devices, phones, tablets and laptops  when they travel. Travellers want to choose what they want to watch and when they want to watch it, and with Netflix and online streaming, travellers are less likely to be watching TV, he says.

Symonds believes this to mean that travellers want good, fast and free internet connection over a TV – something the hotel offers. It would be good if the rooms also came with USB charge points for these devices. 

The design team behind The Collectionist includes Andrew Cliffe, from The World is Round; Yasmine Ghoniem and Katy Svalbe, from Amber Road; Susie Willis and Matt Sheargold, from Willis Sheargold; and Josh Cain and Lily Goodwin, from Pattern Studio.  

The Collectionist opened in May 2018 and is the first of the ''choose your own room'' brand from Collectic Hotels company. The company also owns and operates The Urban Newtown and the Merchant Hotel in Summer Hill. 

Room rates at The Collectionist start from $200 a night and are based on room categories – The Bootstrap rooms from $200 a night, The Tinkerer rooms from $220 a night, The Moonshiner room from $240 a night, and The Artisan from $260 a night. See collectionisthotel.com.au 

The writer attended the launch of the hotel and stayed overnight.

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