“I just went to a Bruce Springsteen concert and he said that the most important equation in life is one plus one equals three. You need that for love, you need that to make music and you need that to make a great hotel. You put all the details together and you wind up with something that is more than the sum of the individual parts.”

~Ian Schrager, famed NYC Hotelier

When it comes to travel accommodations, modern day explorers crave authentic places with a sense of personality. In response, interior designers are shifting their design philosophy. Here, we examine 6 leading design trends for hospitalities and how the design of a space is used to influence the overall experience of guests.


No longer is it enough to ask guests to re-use their towels from time to time. The customer is demanding their hotels boast additional green credentials. Increasingly, travellers are speaking with their travel dollars, seeking to stay in properties that are built sustainably, source locally and incorporate energy conserving technologies. These might include thermostats that detect when occupants are in a room so heating and cooling is provided on an as-needed basis only or lighting systems in rooms and corridors that dim or turn off automatically when hallways and guest rooms are empty.

Other hotels are harnessing solar power and even alternative fuels like coconut oil to power their properties and collecting rainwater from roofs to
to supply all toilets and for laundry service (The Brando, French Polynesia).

Designers are also incorporating non-technological solutions into hotel design including the use of materials that are salvaged or reclaimed or ones that have been sustainably harvested or produced. The rooftop pool and bar at Brooklyn’s Hotel 1, for example, was created using reclaimed railroad ties.

And as consumers grow more aware of ingredients and the use of plastics, hotels are changing their approach to self-care products provided in hotel rooms. More and more, they are moving away from tiny plastic bottles towards refilling larger dispensers of soaps, shampoos and conditioners and using more natural, organic products.

As far as food and drink is concerned, many hotels are eliminating single use straws and ensuring all food waste is composted or donated to food banks.

Hyper Local

Hotel guests are thirsty for authentic, local experiences and companies are responding by creating memorable experiences that remind visitors of where they are. Big brands that once promised an identical ‘brand’ experience wherever you went in the world are recognizing this is not what the modern traveler wants anymore.  They expect to be wowed by every experience and thus, elements of surprise and originality are key.

A great example is the W Bellevue pictured above. Design and décor features remind guests that they are on the shores of the beautiful Lake Washington. The property feels like a lake house and evokes memories of summers spent lakeside with references to local history including legendary musical and fashion influences.  

To create a memorable, local experience, hotels are collaborating with local artists, retailers and designers to deliver a vibrant, localized experience that communicates a sense of place – the essence of the destination.  In achieving this, hotels are also likely checking off a key eco-credential by sourcing locally too.  This reduces costs and the carbon footprint as transportation requirements are diminished.  Leasing space to local retailers also offers guests expanded options beyond the typical hotel kiosk. Local barbershops or independent retail stores that carry unique labels provide unique experiences that the guest will remember.

Outside Inside

Recognizing the positive influence of plants on people and the environment, we will see more and more hotels incorporate living walls, water features and other natural elements into their designs. The presence of live plants reduces air pollution and serves as a beautiful reminder to hotel guests of what lies outdoors! Moreover, living walls serve as a dramatic design feature and insta-worthy backdrop to a hotel’s common spaces.

Shared Spaces take the Spotlight

Just as this trend has surfaced in the workspace and education space, so too in the hospitality space. Lobbies have always been important portals into a hotel experience but more and more, they are following the lead of Ace hotels and Ian Schrager’s iconic properties and taking centre stage. Are becoming buzzing social centres encouraging guests to stay and socialize, work or unwind over cocktails or craft beer.

They are the perfect way to differentiate and compete with Airbnb. Guests can leave their room and have a drink at the hottest bar or restaurant just by heading downstairs or to the roof.

This focus is also being driven by younger travellers who do not want to stay in their rooms and by business travellers who want a shared space with reliable wifi, charging stations and easy access to food and beverage – essentially an extension of their office.

Small is Beautiful

Travellers are looking for places that are smaller in scale and even seasonal. Like the focus on local, smaller properties make guests feel as though the experience is more unique and exclusive.

The chic Katamama Hotel in Seminyak, Bali is the perfect example of the small, local and sustainable hospitality trends. Every detail of this 57-suite property pays tribute to the local heritage and Mother Earth. From the 1.5 million hand-pressed Balinese bricks that make up Katamama’s extraordinary facade to other handmade or purposefully picked details, guests are gently reminded of the crafts and traditions of Indonesia at every turn. In addition, the commitment to sustainability is all encompassing; art installations are made out of recycled material; the hotel is plastic-free; biodegradable soaps and mosquito sprays are provided in rooms and AC is automated to shut off when guests are not in the room or the windows are open. It is a spectacular example of how sustainability can be inventive, cool, and luxurious.

Health and Wellness

Hotel guests are demanding hotels invest in better equipped fitness centers, pools and spas. In addition, travelers are expecting innovative wellness options including healthier food options, air purification, yoga spaces, in-room exercise equipment and perhaps most importantly, quality sleep. Hotels are spending smartly on better mattress technology to ensure guests are well-rested and that mattresses are sustainable and durable to ensure their longevity and reduce landfill.

See LIV’s other articles on design trends:

Design Trends: Education

2019 Fall Decor Trends

Fall 2019 Colour Pairings

Cover image source: Unsplash

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *