Battle of the Tech Hotels
By Carol Vinzant; Jennifer Reese

(FORTUNE Magazine) – University Park Hotel @ MIT

Location The grim side of Cambridge, Mass.

Started by... MIT and the Forest City Development Corp.; the hotel is managed by Hilton

Building resembles... A beacon for UFOs

What's nearby MIT; the NECCO wafer factory (whose water tower is decorated like a roll of NECCO wafers)

Philosophy From a hotel ad: "If you need to press the ESC key, here's where to weekend."

How you know you're in a tech-themed hotel There's an "@" in the name; an atomic energy sign on the elevator carpet (guests ask if the elevators are nuclear powered); photographs of obscure scientists and MIT "pranksters" in the rooms; armoires with circuitboards embedded in them.

Because tech people are so impetuously fun, the hotel supplies... Sony PlayStations

Real computer power T1 wireless and wired Internet access are coming soon, as is a hologram greeter.

Guests can meet their VCs in... The library and the rooftop garden, which they thought business travelers would prefer to a pool

Clientele it courts Dot-com executives

Clientele it gets MIT parents

The price $139

The verdict Cheap for Boston and for what it is: a cool, contemporary hotel. Hologram greeter will make it irresistible. (617-577-0200)

--Carol Vinzant

Hotel Avante

[Location] In Silicon Valley, on a drab Mountain View strip that also includes a thrift shop and an Arby's

[Started by...] Self-consciously wacky San Francisco hotel chain Joie de Vivre, run by a Stanford MBA who once trained to be a massage therapist

[Building resembles...] A white stucco retirement home

[What's nearby] Nothing--and everything: 20 minutes to Sand Hill Road, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard

[Philosophy] "We wanted the rooms to feel like the apartment of a creative person," says Rob Delamater, Joie de Vivre's VP of creative services. "The opposite of a high-tech hotel with hard, shiny surfaces and blinking lights."

[How you know you're in a tech-themed hotel] Actually, you probably won't. The place is cozy and plush, decorated with '50s modern furniture and abstract photographs of low-tech icons, like antique typewriter keyboards.

[Because tech people are so impetuously fun, the hotel supplies...] Furniture on wheels "so the independent thinker can create his own space"; in-room toy boxes containing an Etch A Sketch and a Slinky; Hi Fi Lounge with 400-CD jukebox; DVD library; large selection of pay-per-view porn

[Real computer power] DSL network, coming in October

[Guests can meet their VCs in...] The boardroom, around a cherry table inlaid with polished stones

[Clientele it courts] Advertising and design types presumably appalled by Silicon Valley's frumpy hotels

[Clientele it gets] Travelers who think it's still the dowdy Ambassador Inn

[The price] Weeknights start at $195

[The verdict] Extremely handsome, relatively affordable, only moderately silly (800-738-7477)

--Jennifer Reese