5 trends shaping the design of hotel public spaces • Hotel Designs
The public space of any hotel is where the designer makes the opening commentary. It tells the story of what’s to come behind closed doors and as such is key to the brand’s narrative. These spaces are influenced by social trends and in some cases can even lead to breaking established patterns within the hospitality design industry. The great debates within the sector are visibly put into practice in these spaces. We thought we’d take a look at some of these conversations and identify how they translate into the design and function of public spaces.
The arrival experience is to make a statement, to set the tone. Design expectations are increasingly high, and the public space of a hotel is at the forefront. He must make a good impression as soon as a customer walks through the doors, if not before. In some cases, space should translate to social media platforms, while in others, it may be privacy and discretion. As hotels move away from the standard brand approach, fabulous and idiosyncratic design is no longer the domain of the small boutique hotel, but is integrated into designs at all levels. The 25hours brand is an example that prides itself on its “if you know one, you don’t know none” approach, making each hotel an independent and unique design statement. On the other hand, you have EDITION luxury hotels that maintain design consistency across their locations while offering unique immersive designs.
Technology in public spaces can cause divisions and debates; while for some the more connected and seamless the hotel experience the better, while others want a complete break from the daily demands of technology which can be overwhelming. In the public hotel industry, it is surely a question of balance. The balance between connectivity and connection is critical as hotels grapple with the seeming contradictions between technology and that ever-important human touch that can define a hotel experience. If properly harnessed, these two views are not as contradictory as they appear – while technology reduces the need for contact and can make things transparent and even faceless, the flip side of an organized use of technology is the potential for increased space for true public spaces. Instead of a large amount of space being taken up by what is essentially administrative, this space can be used to connect in real time with real people over a coffee or a cocktail, or, with a little lucky, both.
Preparing to launch its first hotel in London, The Other House, making bold claims about disrupting the hospitality industry, seems to epitomize the new attitude towards technology in hospitality. Despite all the noise around the new era of luxury suggesting a twinned, if not removed, rear stance on technology, it is at the heart of The Other House as they will be offering customers a downloadable app that offers customization and control via access on request at the hotel -style services. The software, which if transparent, meaningful, unobtrusive and easy to use, will become a revolutionary part of the hospitality experience at The Other House. Everything revolves around this balance between connectivity and connection…
Sustainability of course must be considered at all levels, but how does this translate directly into the public areas of a hotel? As customers increasingly base their decisions on shared values, these values must be visible and part of the fabric of public spaces. Claiming to be the world’s first fully net zero hotel, Room2 clearly sets the benchmark, and we’re sure it won’t be the last. This is a great example of how sustainability has been integrated into the building, the design, the use of space, the materials used to decorate this space, the hotel’s goal being to provide guests an experience of local hospitality, with public spaces, that connect people and invite them on the basis of shared values and concerns.
Flexibility and the notion of wfhotel is another industry buzzword making its mark in hotel public spaces. These spaces are increasingly becoming places to stay, work, relax, socialize and shop. For this reason, and contrary to what many believed to emerge from the covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing an increase in public spaces as well as an increase in demand and flexibility.
Locke Hotels has built the brand around this notion of flexibility – describing public spaces as “equal parts gallery, lounge, cafe, retail concept and lounge, the space beckons to the street and is as welcoming as it is impenetrable”.
Looking at how Welfare translates into public spaces, again the demands of the customer as a consumer are high. Not only are hotels expected to put wellness on the agenda and make it available to guests, there is an increasing expectation that it will be integrated into the structure and function of the design with concepts like biophilic design becoming as mainstream as cocktails with a side of kombucha.
SIRO Boka Place is one of the newest and clearest examples of how wellness concepts have become integral, with the entire hotel experience and concept developed around immersive wellness. Starting with the name… S-force I-inclusive R-reflection O-original. With this in mind, public spaces will be designed to emphasize the social aspects of well-being, while on a more literal level the design will feature elements such as leather bleacher-style seating in these public spaces. which refer to the aesthetics of a sports stadium. Well-being is considered on all fronts in this design, and it’s not just about jumping on a state-of-the-art Pelaton, but also knowing what materials are used and how they are used.
Taking things to a slightly more esoteric level, Six Senses Douro Valley explores color and sensory design in relation to wellbeing and takes the conversation into relatively uncharted waters. The alliance of color, gastronomy and technology opens the field of well-being in the field of hotel design!
Today more than ever, the idea of shared values, of community, materializes in the public spaces of the hotel. One Hundred Shoreditch exemplifies this, as local identity and an immersive experience are the order of the day and brand identity is now balanced on the ability to provide place. Public spaces provide this interface between the hotel and the community, so the change is no longer to create a barrier but to provide interaction. Referring again to One Hundred Shoreditch, designer Jacu Strauss has made a point of opening up public spaces, blurring the lines between indoors and out. It is important that the hotel be seen as part of the community. To achieve this, on a literal level, the coffee hatch punches a hole in the wall and breaks the indoor-outdoor divide, while on a slightly more subtle note, public areas like the restaurant and bar reflect the surroundings and the division between clients and community changes
What is very clear is how interrelated all of these concepts are, and it is in fact their interaction that defines public spaces and sets hotels apart. Increasingly, the demands placed on public spaces in hotel design include all of these elements, but it’s a matter of focus. It’s not about ifbut of how visible – how the technology, well-being and flexibility we see in public spaces as these boundaries shift and reflect the accelerating changes we see are impacting all aspects of hotel design.
Main image credit: The House Collective