News > What's next in hotels?

14 March 2016

Aukett Swanke’s hotels team speak 36 languages between them, have worked in over 20 countries and with more than 25 international hotel brands, all of which builds on the studio’s 60 year history while looking firmly to the future.

In February this year we asked ourselves, as designers and as guests, what we thought were the most interesting emerging developments, challenges and opportunities in hospitality today.

We distilled these into a series of ten ideas for the future of hotel design, which we launched at the IHIF conference in Berlin last week and which you can see below.

We’ll be progressing some R&D on these during the coming months and would love to know what you think the key design issues facing hotels of the future are. 

 
 
     

1. Where am I?

The search for an authentic experience is an ever increasing demand from travellers who expect their stay to be personalised and customised. The hotel is the front door for a city and the neighbourhood in which it sits and must draw on - and draw in - context, culture and history.

 

2. What is the lobby for?

Hotels are spaces for leisure, for work, for socialising and for getting away, with different people attempting these activities in the same space at the same time. As the convergence of different modes of living and working becomes an ever bigger challenge for operators, we are thinking about how the lobby has now spread throughout all public areas of the hotel, where you can get service, information and entertainment anywhere and at any time through your device.

     
 
     

3. I shop (and eat), therefore I am

Shopping and dining are two activities traditionally associated with the hotel entrance, but always in a static, fixed arrangement. They could become more fluid, open and flexible, working at different settings, offering different scenes or moods; inviting in street food and concessions and retail brands, much in the way a neighbourhood or city square might.

 

4. We are all in this together

Is demographic segmentation still the best way to reach a market? Apartment living and the rise of the home-tel speaks to multi-generational and family travellers and demands a new approach which defines a market in terms of shared interests and aspirations as opposed to solely an income bracket.

     
 
     

5. Second life, second home

The membership based model, evidenced by the rapidly growing co-working and co-living phenomenon offers guests an enhanced hospitality experience where the online portal mirrors the real life hotel space. This opens up the potential for a range of additional on-demand activities and services that the hotel will need to meet. What does this space look like, how does it work?

 
 

6. Luxury is not a design problem!

What is luxury? Is it space, time, solitude or authenticity? Can any of these be designed? The contemporary traveller requires a non-standard experience where the artisan and handmade feature prominently. Artists, designers and makers can all be brought into this conversation, creating unique artefacts that guests will use, experience and can buy and take home with them as a physical memory.

Paraphrasing Erich Fromm, ‘wealth is not so much having, as being.’

     
 
     

7. When did you last use a minibar?

What does a room actually need? Do you need a wardrobe, or just somewhere to set out your suitcase? When last did you use a minibar? The room needs to be intelligently equipped to offer the guest what they really need and want – choice. 

 

8. Always off

How could the guestroom be designed for guests who travel to get away, to switch off and to disconnect? A ‘natural’ wellness environment which embraces the ‘allergy-free room’ and Biophillic design, offers a way to think about spaces that can be genuinely quiet, calming and therapeutic.

     
 
     

9. Always on

The wired and wireless room: plenty of charging docks and good, inclusive WiFi. The first and last point of contact is the online check-in/out and the digital concierge. Consistency on the online platform  offers the familiarity the guest expects and frees up the building and its spaces to provide the equally important unique and ‘authentic’ experience.

 

10. Less is more

Sustainability and visible measures to reduce waste and energy use are questions that hotels are beginning to embrace. Buildings could offer EPC data and guests would be able to monitor energy use live by means of ‘green’ screens throughout the hotel. Energy and resources could be harvested from guest activity – while heat recovery and grey water re-use are already widely in use. What does the zero carbon hotel look like? 

     
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