Looks like I've just sorted my holidays, says Andrew Everard, after ages wondering where to go and what to see, all the while dreading dragging myself away from the comfort of my home cinema system. Now I can stay in a hotel room with a complete home entertainment set-up, from 42in widescreen TV to surround sound. And I can even play all those movies I buy on my travels.
I've spent too many jetlagged nights flicking from CNN to BBC World in some anonymous hotel room, waiting for the clock to click around to breakfast time and all the while fully aware that I should be asleep if I'm not going to doze off during some crucial presentation. I did that once during an early demo of a complete SACD-based surround system in Japan, and it took a while for the awfully nice Sony people to realise I wasn't swept away by the beauty of the music, but out like a light. Embarrassing.
Anyway, back to the surround hotel room, and respect to the forward-thinking people at Hilton, who have kitted out 'Sight + Sound' rooms in two of their US hotels - at Chicago's O'Hare Airport and in downtown San Francisco - with complete home entertainment systems. You get a 42in LG plasma TV, Yamaha's YSP-800 digital sound projector to do the surround stuff, and an entertainment package from US HD provider Direct TV, taking in sports, movies and popular network and cable shows.
Even better, LodgeNet, the provider of those pay-per-view movies in hotel rooms, has designed a connectivity panel so you can plug in your laptop, digital camera, portable video player or whatever and view your own stuff on the system, while Monster Cable has put together a special cable pack for the rooms to ensure you have the right wires.
And it's not just a toe in the water exercise: 25 rooms in Chicago are up and running, and 30 in the city of fog and cablecars, and they only cost an extra $20 per night. Oh, and they have Lavazza coffee in-room too - can it get any better?
Well yes, actually - a huge Virgin Megastore with a massive movie department is only three blocks away from the Hilton in San Francisco. I'm seriously tempted...