Grab your quarters, hoteliers
Grab your quarters, hoteliers
31 JANUARY 2020 8:39 AM

As plans are announced for video-game-themed hotels, hoteliers might want to consider at least incorporating games to help their properties stand out.

Atari is launching a line of licensed video-game hotels, The New York Times reports. The company currently has its sights on eight cities, with a hotel in Phoenix expected to begin construction this fall and take about 18 to 24 months to complete. When you consider all of the other themed hotels, both temporary and permanent, a hotel that offers both retro and modern games makes perfect sense.

One thing we hear constantly talking with hoteliers in interviews and at industry conferences is how much guests want experiences when they travel. They’re looking for local/unique experiences at whatever destination they’re visiting, and hoteliers are looking at ways to incorporate those experiences into their properties, even if they’re just the starting point.

Having a video-game-themed hotel isn’t necessarily going to be the deciding factor for most guests choosing which city to visit, but it could definitely influence their final choice if there is one in that city. Then again, video games are a multibillion-dollar industry, so plenty of people will go just for the hotel itself to try it. Either way, the hotel becomes a bigger part of guests’ overall experience.

Even if an owner doesn’t want to jump into the deep end and create a video-game-themed hotel, a hotel that would incorporate games into guestrooms and/or public spaces might be worth considering. Providing some kind of PC or gaming console in each room, of course, would be a bigger investment so that’s likely not something that would become a brand standard.

Another option would be a bar with arcade games. That would create a communal experience, giving strangers a chance to bond over shared love for games they played as kids. There’s a bar near the HNN office full of arcade games from the 1980s and ’90s that lets patrons play for free as long as they’re ordering drinks. You can wander around with a beer and choose among titles such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “NBA Jam,” “BurgerTime,” “Area 51” and “Mortal Kombat.” It’s constantly busy as people go in groups to play together or alone and then make fast friends while trying to beat up each other’s characters on screen.

Even without having an overall video-game theme, a hotel geared toward travelers who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s could pull off a game experience at its bar. Along with getting guests out of their rooms at night, it would likely draw in locals who want a chance to relive some of their childhood or, if they are a bit younger, to experience a taste of what video games were like when your lives depended on how many quarters or tokens you had left.

Should hotels bring back arcade games for their lobbies and bars? Do you think they could help make hotels a destination within their markets? Let me know in the comments below, or reach out to me at or @HNN_Bryan.

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