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Increasingly important factors in the construction and furnishing of modern hotels

Hotels of the future

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The hospitality industry, or more specifically the hotel and restaurant trade, is going through a period of radical change. The coronavirus pandemic in particular has brought the tourism sector to a virtual standstill and then sent it into a spin. However, calls for a fresh approach to the way we build and fit out hotels are not only being driven by the challenges of recent years, but also by various trends and customer preferences. Sustainability, urbanisation and the concept of “new work” are just a few of the interesting terms that offer a great deal of potential.

New York, desk in a hotel, plant

Urbanisation, new work, sustainability – the megatrends influencing the hotel industry (photos from left to right: Lerone Pieters, Unsplash; Justus Menke, Unsplash; Olena Sergienko, Unsplash)

New work, sustainability and more: the industry trends

What may at first sound like a desperate situation also presents all manner of opportunities. After all, if there’s one industry that’s good at managing change and unpredictable customer demands, it’s the enterprising hospitality industry. It is with good reason that hotel design is seen as a playground for creative architects and designers. With hospitality’s short renovation cycles, there’s plenty of scope for experimentation. Technical innovations and new design elements can therefore be put to the test and tried out regularly.

A detailed study by Villeroy & Boch reveals what factors in particular will be key in the next few years and which trends hotel designers should definitely keep in mind when working on new constructions, conversions and extensions. Many megatrends such as urbanisation, digitalisation and sustainability are now very familiar. But what’s new is that they are also penetrating the hotel industry in very specific and unique ways and can elevate a hotel to a whole new level.

Megahotels: a response to urbanisation

It’s common knowledge that increasing numbers of people are crowding into the world’s cities. The coronavirus pandemic has boosted the attractiveness of life in the country in the short term, but long-term forecasts still indicate that cities are the future. Three-quarters of all people on Earth are expected to live in cities by as early as 2050. The phenomenon generally referred to as urbanisation is therefore both a challenge and an opportunity for the hotel industry.

The first megahotels are already a reality. The First World Hotel in Malaysia is currently the largest hotel in the world – with 7,300 rooms. If you think that figure is extreme, note that it will soon be overtaken by the Abraj Kudai in Mecca, which will have a staggering 10,000 rooms. Architects all over the world are already setting about the task of designing ever more extraordinary megahotels. From floating hotels to hotels suspended on cables, the limits of what is possible appear to be eroding.

Hotel lobby and hotel co-working space

The hotel of the future: a place to socialise (photo: Darshan Patel, Unsplash & Yoav Aziz, Unsplash)

Hotels as places to live

The emergence of megahotels runs counter to another major trend: the desire for togetherness on our own terms. On the one hand, this is about growing individuality and autonomy; on the other hand, we also long for more companionship and are increasingly turning to co-working spaces and communal places in which to spend our leisure time.

Just like the hotel industry, the world of work is experiencing dramatic changes as a result of the coronavirus crisis. By necessity, digitalisation has made its way into countless aspects of the way we work. For many people, working from home and working remotely have become welcome realities. At the same time, hotels are no longer just places to stay the night or seek relaxation, but are instead transforming into places where all aspects of life – personal as well as professional – can be lived. Modern hotel lobbies with the ambience of a living room and cosy co-working spaces are just two of the contradictory demands of today’s hotel guests.

Two aspects above all are absolutely key:
When developing their concepts, modern hotels are faced with the task of furnishing their rooms so that they are less like simple sleeping quarters and more like living areas that can be used as an additional workspace if required – with all the conveniences that the guest would have in their own office or home office . In the future, it will take more than a few conservative conference rooms to meet guests’ expectations of a modern hotel.
When we’ve worked hard, we also deserve to be able to relax. The hotel room of the future will be a customised well-being space, complete with all the comforts we wish for and are used to at home. It will be the right temperature, play our favourite songs, stream the Netflix series we like, offer bespoke lighting, contain plants for even more of a feel-good factor and, thanks to its modular furniture , it will be easy to transform from a living room into a home office. What’s more, if we feel like a bit of companionship, we will be able to head to the lobby, which will serve as a modern and cosy communal living room and meeting place.

Modern hotels

Plants, wood and glass: natural materials will shape the future of hotel design.

Sustainable architecture for a more eco-friendly approach

Future hotel design will be one thing above all: green! Starting with the furnishings. In the future, alongside many indoor plants to provide a comfortable living environment, the interior design of modern hotels will primarily be based on natural resources. Wood, stone and glass will be the dominant materials in the bedrooms, lobbies and restaurants of future hotels. Whether sustainable furniture , improved energy efficiency or more sustainable recycling and water treatment systems, many hotels have multiple opportunities to make savings and plenty of scope for innovation when it comes to sustainability. There is also a lot of untapped potential in hotel restaurants. For example, all kinds of herbs and many of the vegetables used in the kitchens can simply be grown by the hotels themselves. The hotels of the future will find space for this on the exterior walls of their buildings, for example, with plants growing in vertical gardens .

One example of how sustainability is already being practised in the hotel industry today can be found in so-called Bio Hotels . The members of this hotel association have set themselves the goal of becoming 100 per cent sustainable. This starts with important matters such as green electricity and energy efficiency, and extends to organic and locally sourced food and on to smaller details such as natural cosmetics in guest bathrooms. To make sure that the hotel stays on course, there is an organic inspection every two years, which also includes a carbon footprint calculation.

An exciting future for the hotel industry

From urbanisation to individualisation and sustainability, the list of megatrends that will have a major impact on the way we think about and design the hotels of the future is long. But what would cause other sectors to break out in a sweat is instead seen more as a welcome challenge in the innovative and creative hotel industry – and, with the right concept, an opportunity to stand out from the competition.

More exciting insights into the future and current trends in the interior design industry are revealed regularly in our magazine by imm cologne newsletter .