Is This The Best Hotel Room TV Setup Ever?

I don’t usually get too excited about hotel room TVs. In fact, it’s pretty rare for my family to ever turn them on. Maybe if we’re in a foreign country, we’ll watch a cartoon so the kids can have a cultural experience, but that’s about it.

I suppose some will say that the hotel room TV is going to go the way of the desk because millennials just don’t use them. Call me old school, but I still prefer to watch TV on a big screen. And I also like to listen to it. Like really listen with real speakers, not uncomfortable earbuds or tinny laptop speakers.

The problem is that flat screen TVs are notorious for having awful sound. There just isn’t space to fit a proper speaker. So you end up with undersized cones that are typically pointed to the side, or worse, out the back. I remember being at a Hyatt Place where my wife — who was trying to sleep in the bedroom area — could hear the TV better than I could even though I was sitting right in front of it.

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There are solutions to this of course. We don’t have a fancy entertainment system at home or anything, but even our modest HDTV, Dish DVR, and surround sound stereo from my college days can blow away virtually any hotel room setup.

It’s honestly to the point that I don’t want to watch new movies at hotels because I end up feeling cheated.

Grand Hyatt Denver Executive Suite home theater

So you can understand my surprise when I walked into our executive suite at the Grand Hyatt Denver last weekend. The LG TV was maybe a bit bigger than usual at 55″, but there was something in front of it…. a soundbar!

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Grand Hyatt Denver Executive Suite living room

I think that was the first time I had ever seen a soundbar in a hotel room.

But that wasn’t all. After looking around some more, I spied a wireless subwoofer under the end table. I mean, it wasn’t plugged in, but it was there.

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Grand Hyatt Denver Executive Suite subwoofer

Cranking it up

I’m not sure if they disconnect the subwoofer to save power, or if it’s because nobody uses it, but whatever. I plugged it in. Then I turned on the TV and the soundbar, which had its own remote control.

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Grand Hyatt Denver Executive Suite remote controls

And wow, it was awesome. There was real bass. I was impressed.

What would the neighbors think?

The executive suites at the Grand Hyatt Denver seem to all be in the corners of the building. But the living rooms still share a wall with an adjacent guest room, and of course there are other suites above and below. So I do wonder how much of the bass bleeds through to the nearby rooms. I mean, the pot smoke certainly did. Sorry, stay on topic.

Anyway, I didn’t have it on for more than a few minutes, so there wasn’t time for anyone to come yell at me to keep it down. But it would certainly be a consideration.

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Grand Hyatt Denver Executive Suite home theater

Bottom line

Flat panel HDTVs have dramatically improved the video quality of our TV experience, both at home and in hotels. But most hotels won’t spring for a soundbar so we’re stuck listening to the audio from the pathetic built-in speakers. And that’s too bad, because soundbars aren’t all that expensive, and make a big difference.

As for subwoofer? I like the concept in theory, at least if I’m the one using it, but think they might just lead to more trouble than they’re worth.

Have you ever stayed in (or near) a hotel room that had a subwoofer? 

Comments

  1. I was in a Marriott last week and they have the feature to watch Netflix on the hotel TV. I turned it on and guess what, it was already logged in to a previous guests account. A little off topic but i just assumed it would log you out after your stay. Hope i didnt mess u p their you might like feed with what I was watching!

  2. Big fan of this site – a long-time “customer” from well-before Lucky got famous with all his press – BUT this seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel, no?

  3. I’ve been in a good few hotels with decent sound systems – surprisingly enough – radissons in their executive/club floor suites are actually quite good with bose surround systems – other than that, Conrad hotels seem to have good TV setups and sound in addition to what basically amounts to an AV desk. What was cool about their setup was that you can use their app to do a lot with the tv as well, youtube etc, you could stream onto it like at home.

    I understand though what you’re saying about sound annoying other guests.

    The Hilton Brooklyn had that netflix option (which you had to log into – which I found a bit odd to be honest), and it was a great feature although I wondered if it ‘wiped and refreshed’ when the entertainment system rebooted between stays (the tv obviously has the welcome screen with your name when you arrive) – I wonder if [like Uber had for a while] a chain might start to let you save your spotify and netflix to your guest profile so it’s setup when you arrive.

    I was staying in a doubletree last week which was a stunning hotel, but strangely it included financial times headlines on the TV but you had to log into the FT website (with a subscription) if you clicked any articles… That was odd – don’t a decent amount of hotels now have onsite login to premium content with most newspapers?

  4. I was @ Sheraton in Kauai that TV was 50″ and SSSHD I could see every single line in their face and where they put the make up on .No thanks I like my lady’s to look good .

    CHEERs

  5. As far as I can remember, Intercontinenals in Vietnam solved this flat panel TV sound problem really well. The IC Danang has a Bose sound system attached to the TV on all rooms and suites. The IC Saigon Asiana Residences also have samsung 5.1 surround sound systems on all suites.

  6. @Travis, I was at the Grand Hyatt last month and also liked the TV set up. My problem with the Executive Suite was no door between the living room and the bedroom.

    Regarding TVs in hotel rooms, when abroad I always take the opportunity to check out the foreign news channels and see what American movies and TV shows are on. Arirang, NHK, BBC, German, French and Italian and sometimes even Chinese and RT news channels I find interesting to see the local and international stories they cover. Even the ones I can’t understand I can get a sense of their point of view.

    As strange as it souds, you may be missing a good educational opportunity by not watching TV. In general, Americans suffer from woefully insular sources of information about the world.

    Personally, I can’t imagine a hotel room without a TV, but I’m not a millennial.

  7. Several Hyatt’s have full on 5.1 Bose surround sound with speakers in the back wall. Jacksonville comes to mind, but I’ve had several others. (Suites only)

  8. I found a hotel in Bangkok that had installed smart TVs. Using screen sharing I could watch the films from my tab on the big screen.

  9. The Grand Hyatt Denver seems to be a particularly intelligently set up hotel. They also have nice motion-activated floor-level lighting by the beds and in the bathroom to guide your way if you get up in the middle of the night without disturbing anyone else too much.

  10. While the HDTV & sound system is not exactly at the top of the list when I consider hotel rooms, it’s nice to know at least some Hyatts actually investing some capital to enhance the guest experience. Most of the news/sentiment surrounding Hyatt in recent weeks has been negative (with the changes to their status levels and qualifications), so at least this is something.

    @Travis — Do you know if those 55″ HDTV/soundbar system were in every room at the Grand Hyatt Denver, or just the suites?

  11. This “should hotel room still have TVs” thing is worth unpacking. I was in a nondescript Hilton Garden Inn last night, dead tired at 7:30. So I spent 2 hours in bed watching TV, and I can say I would not have enjoyed my experience without one.

    Having said that — I would’ve been much happier had there been some kind of Netflix tie-in available.

  12. I stayed at a budget hotel recently that had a smart TV setup so you could log into Netflix or other streaming services using your own account. Very clever. Everyone’s happy and it doesn’t cost the hotel anything because you’re using your own account.

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