As consumer demands change, hotel design is evolving across the value scale. The rise of boutique has given birth to a host of individual and unusual properties, while technology is an increasingly important factor for many properties. Other hotels are investing in bringing their meeting spaces up to date, or improving their spa and fitness facilities.
Here is a rundown of the major trends and some of the operators that are adopting them into their designs and re-designs.
According to recent research from Bookings.com, boutique hotels are rising in popularity among domestic holidaymakers, with three-quarters of Brits saying they would prefer to stay somewhere unusual in the UK.
By definition, boutique hotels offer something truly unique – be it luxurious fittings, themed bedrooms or unusual exteriors. Some of the most highly rated properties on the Bookings.com website include converted castles, railway carriages and boats, but more traditional properties can make fantastic boutique hotels if designed with luxury and individuality in mind.
"Boutique style hotels have been hot for some years now and if anything it has become a lot more competitive in this industry at the typical boutique-hotel price point," explains Anwar Mekhayech from the Toronto based The Design Agency, which designed boutique London property Generator.
"Originally it was all about design & lifestyle, and the vibe of the F&B. Now all the GEN Y's and young professionals have tons of boutique style hotels to choose from at all price points."
Recent openings with a focus on boutique design include the new hotel rooms above the Tommyfield in Kennington Cross, the Glazebrook House Hotel in Devon – complete with Alice in Wonderland-themed rooms – and the Portobello Hotel, which has been acquired and refurbished by boutique brand A Curious Group of Hotels.
2. Health and fitness
With more space than their city peers, many regional hotels and resorts are investing in re-designs of their spa and healthclub facilities in a bid to entice more international and corporate guests.
The Gleneagles Hotel recently invested £5m in its leisure club, which now features a state-of-the-art adult’s only pool and relaxation area, an ‘Alpine Onsen’ hot outdoor pool, and a re-designed family pool replete with waterfall feature and bubble pool.
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is also looking to strengthen its foothold in the spa market. The group spent £5m upgrading the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa and a further £1.4m on upgrading the spa facilities at Craxon Wood hotel in Chester.
“Since investing into Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa near Stirling, we’ve seen a huge increase in the demand for health, wellbeing and leisure facilities," says Macdonald's managing director for Leisure & Spa, Jeanette Jones. "It is important that all of our hotels in the spa collection provide guests with a top quality experience from start to finish.”
Another key factor influencing hotel design is the rapid development of technology, which offers the potential to transform guest experience and transform the traditional hotel layout.
The introduction of mobile booking, for example, means some hotels are getting rid of their front desk altogether, freeing up space for guests and staff to interact in a more casual manner. Others are providing ipads to control every aspect of the room technology- from the TV to the blinds, the room temperature and the morning alarm.
Technology-focused hotel brands include Citizen M and Marriott’s Moxy, but more traditional hotel brands are also starting to make technology a core focus of re-designs and upgrades.
Watch our tour of a Citizen M hotel to see how hotels are adopting the latest technology.
4. Creative conference space
As confidence in the meetings market grows, hotels are starting to re-design their conference space to bring it up to date with the needs of 21st century delegates.
Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) recently spent millions on a re-design of the meeting space in its Holiday Inn London Kensington-Forum, Holiday Inn London-Bloomsbury and Holiday Inn London Regent's Park hotels. The new look ‘Academy’ spaces feature new-look brighter meeting rooms and state-of-the art break out spaces. Guests can also enjoy superfast Wi-Fi, quiet work stations with printers and a choice of board games or table football to relax between meetings.
Launching the new spaces, Paul Harnedy, director of operations for IHG’s portfolio of Company Managed Hotels in London said: “The meetings industry has changed dramatically over the last few years, with delegates wanting to feel less restricted and more creative. Developments in technology mean that meeting styles have changed and we are continually aiming to improve our standards and ensure we remain innovative in responding to evolving business guest needs.”
Jumeirah Hotels is also refurbishing the Ballroom meeting space at its Carlton Tower hotel. Jumeirah regional vice president Derek Picot says the new space will feature more informal and comfortable spaces alongside break-out rooms and improved technology.
5. Pod hotels
A final distinct design trend is the emergence of smaller format and ‘pod’ hotels. According to a recent report from Savills, these properties are on the rise because of the lack of availability of larger buildings in cramped cities and regional historic centres.
Smaller format hotels often make use of technological and construction innovations like flat screen TVs and improved storage to maximise the space available. They are designed to be highly practical, offering a no-fuss stay at a low price point without compromising on guest requirements.
Emerging smaller format brands include the Hub by Premier Inn, Marriot’s Moxy, ZHotel and Snoozebox, which is taking its modular pod hotels to major events including Glastonbury, Silverstone and the Ryder Cup.