Anwar Mekhayech, co-founder of The Design Agency – which designed the award-winning Generator hostels - pointed out that the boutique hotel space has seen rapid growth in recent years.
“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,” he said.
“Originally it was all about design and lifestyle, and the vibe of the food and beverage. Now all the Generation Y’s and young professionals have tons of boutique style hotels to choose from at all price points.”
With younger consumers looking for boutique properties with lower price points and different amenities, two distinct design strands are starting to emerge.
“I think you are getting a lot of North American influence on the hipster style hotel designs - like Ace and Generator, and then a real luxury boom in design with places like Edition, Thompson and Shangri-La,” said Mekhayech.
When designing or re-designing a boutique property, operators should therefore think carefully about who their guests will be, and what they will want to experience through each step of their stay at the property.
“It’s really about the vibe and soul of the space from the check-in throughout all the common areas and the retain. F&B needs to be creative and industry leading; the rooms need to be curated and bespoke in a way that is user friendly but also fresh and innovative," Mekhayech explained.
Generator, which won three awards at the recent Hospitality Design Awards, recently completed an £8millionrefurbishment of its London property – GEN London – to bring it up to the high design standards of its European hostels.
Originally a police section house, the London property now features 872 beds across 212 rooms, with chill-out areas, a cinema room, game tables, a café and a bar.
“GEN London, since it was a refurbishment of the original location and we knew that there was a cool heritage of the building being an old police barracks, we wanted to expose and open up the space more to use lots of the original details and to improve the flow and common areas,” said Mekhayech.
“We added an extra bar/café and also expanded the chillout spaces for people to relax and hangout, even found space for a small 20 person screening room.”
As with all Generator properties, the London hostel was designed to reflect the city it exists in, and features reclaimed timbers, exposed brick and hot-rolled black steel to reflect Camden’s history and art installations and bespoke graphics from local artists.
“Generator has a kind of industrial, graphic design style as a base layer that then morphs depending on each building and city,” said Mekhayech.
“One common feature is that we always have some form of a cool G sculpture and we try to collaborate with local artists as much as possible.
“For London, we worked with Acrylicize in Shoreditch to realize some of the installations and also hired different artists to participate in the space.”