When it comes to predicting what homes of the future will be like, one common feature that crops up is smart home technology, enabling us to make our lives more streamlined and convenient.
To get a taster of this home of the future, I set out to spend a weekend in the ultimate Google smart home.
Staying in the beautiful, minimalist Easton Diamond property, from Google Home and Assistant to the Pixelbook and Nest.– a company that offers the top 1 per cent of holiday rentals from across 25 homestay websites through rigorous testing – the house was decked out with a range of cutting-edge smart technology, from the
The tech promises to be your cooking assistant, entertainment help, lifestyle planner and so much more. As a self-confessed technology novice, this all sounded a little intimidating, but I wanted to put the devices to the test to find out what it’s really like living in the ultimate smart home…
The home itself was beautiful
On entering the property, located in Clerkenwell, North London, I immediately wanted to become acquainted with all the interactive devices and facilities on offer, but of course, the first thing I did was explore the house.
Elegantly designed, The Easton Diamond seemed like an apt setting to try all the home technology for the first time. The minimalist, predominantly white decor seemed to perfectly suit the sleek design of the smart devices.
The property's stylish, open-plan kitchen and living room leads out on to the first roof terrace, which hosts a large outdoor dining table. Flooded with light, the living area is streamlined but cosy with open shelving and neutral furnishings. Meanwhile, the master bedroom, with its freestanding bath and walk-in shower, highlights the home's contemporary design.
But the highlight has to be the bubbling hot tub on the secluded top-floor roof terrace, covered in artificial grass.
Meeting the assistant
Now it was time to meet the master of ceremonies – the Google Assistant, which powers the hands-free Google Home device. Voice activated, you can ask it any question or instruction, as long as you start with the command ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Google’. Simple enough.
Google Home, £129, Google Store BUY NOW
The smart speaker can help you organise your day, check the weather, find out the latest news, get help with homework, and, being Google, you can obviously ask any random questions you want answered, like ‘give me a fact about the royal wedding’ or ‘what is the tallest building in the world?’
For extra fun, you can also play games with the assistant or get Google to tell you a joke or poem. So far, so good – and definitely a less exerting way to Google.
Tip: As you'll need to activate the device with your voice, the Google Home is well placed in the main living space.
Trying out the entertainment system
After playing around with lots of different commands, it was time to see how the assistant got on with entertaining. The Google Home can connect to other smart devices in the home and play music, TV programmes and films by accessing a Google Play playlist, Spotify, Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, etc. You can also turn your TV into a smart TV with Google Chromecast.
Sitting back and rela, I could command what show I wanted to watch on Netflix, skip episodes, and play some music, all without moving a muscle. I could get used to this.
Testing out the kitchen assistant
Next up, I wanted to get to grips with the Google Home as a digital kitchen assistant. Baking cupcakes was my goal, so I started by simply saying 'OK Google, let's make cupcakes!'
This instantly offered me a popular recipe plucked from a catalogue of millions, and guided me through the recipe step by step. I could ask for steps to be repeated, tips on baking methods, while also having music playing in the background.
It felt liberating not having to always return to a physical recipe book. And it was nice to know the Google Home would notify me when the baking time was up – no burnt cupcakes here.
Controlling lights with your voice
Link up your Google Home to smart lightbulbs and you can alter your lighting with just your voice.
In The Easton Diamond, Philips Hue smart bulbs are the bulbs of choice and I could create mood lighting, change the colour and brightness, and turn them on and off. This was particularly satisfying when getting into bed at night.
Find the perfect temperature
If, like me, you’re never content with the temperature of your home, then a Nest thermostat is on hand to assist your needs. Ask Google Home to turn the temperature down or up, and the Nest Learning Thermostat cleverly ascertains what you prefer.
The Google Home's smaller version
The Google Home Mini is the smaller sibling of the Google Home, which can work well in other rooms, separately from the main Google Home.
In The Plum Guide home, the Google Mini was placed in the bedroom, coming in very handy for morning news, turning the lights on and off and playing some tunes while I brushed my teeth.
Both devices can be linked up though, so if you want the same song playing in every room you can enjoy multi-room listening.
Google Home Mini, £49, Google Store BUY NOW
The Pixelbook and Pen
Also in the home was the Pixelbook, a smartphone, laptop and tablet all in one, which has the Google Assistant built in. Your voice can activate sending emails or organise your calendar without having to tap on the keyboard.
If you need to rest your fingers from typing, you can use the Pixelbook Pen. This stylus enables you to circle things on the screen for more information, draw, design, and write by hand. It all felt very modern and nifty.
The tech has a sleek modern design
All of the devices seamlessly fit into the minimalist style of the home, with the Google Home device being designed with a clean top and hidden LED light ring to blend into your living space. It has smooth surfaces, an attractive facade and no buttons.
After spending two days living in the ultimate Google smart home, I can say that – as a technology amateur – all of the smart technology was simple to use, helpful and enjoyable, definitely enhancing my experience during the stay. Having time away from the screen due to the voice-activated assistant was a big perk.
When I returned to my own flat after leaving Easton Diamond, I found myself almost asking questions to thin air – that’s how quickly the Google Assistant becomes naturally integrated into your life. The technology really does assist you in your everyday life – and it’s fun to boot.
For more information on The Plum Guide, which has over 600 exclusive properties in London for short-let rentals, see here.