20 new trends in hotel design

Hospitality design is constantly evolving, especially as guests have new concerns over wellness and safety. We spoke to several designers to see what's happening now and what hoteliers can expect for the future.

1. Flexible Design

Designs will include more flexibility as well as customized layouts and looks. Laura Connor, senior interior designer, Boston Trade Interior Solutions, said guests don’t want cookie cutter spaces: “They want to feel like each location has its own unique vibe. At the same time, property owners are seeking spaces that allow them to create a warm and welcoming environment that can be modified quickly and efficiently. 

2. Capturing the Outdoors

Bringing the outdoors in boosts guest enjoyment and mental well-being, said Lisa Simeone, principal, KTGY + Simeone Deary Design Group. Adding al fresco dining, outdoor workout areas and rooftop bars into the design can help. 

3. Natural Materials

“We’re seeing a new wave of biophilic design that calls on designers to create environments that elicit feelings of peace through a calming sense of the connection to the outdoors,” said Renee Hytry-Derrington, managing principal of design at Formica Group. 

4. Creative Solutions

“We are making the most of the climate by incorporating moving glass walls, expansive verandas and smart space planning,” said Bruce Greenfield, partner at AO Architects.

5. Materials Mindfulness

COVID-19 protocols required new cleaning protocols, which saw many hotels switching to materials like antimicrobials and vinyl,  Connor said. “You’ll see a newer reliance on materials that allow for greater cleanability,” she added. 

6. Sensational Surfaces

Architects and designers are seeking modern and minimalist surface designs that are durable, cleanable and provide a soothing aesthetic, said Hytry-Derrington. “Solid surfacing is becoming a popular material for hotel lobbies, bathrooms and restaurants because of its seamless, nonporous, repairable and water- and fire-resistant qualities.” 

7. Mutual Inspiration

“The designs we create for hotels are shifting to homes, the designs we create for homes are shifting to restaurants, the designs we create for restaurants are shifting to retail,” Simeone said. “It is very inspiring to see the possibilities of these interesting hybrid variations being forged from these shifts.”

8. Neutral Woods

Today’s most usable wood visuals are neutral hues with lighter-toned options to complement Scandinavian designs, Hytry-Derrington said. 

9. Palpable Cleanliness

Cleanliness will continue to reign supreme in 2021, and hotels will want to ensure that guests experience the unmistakable cleanliness of the property with all five senses, Greenfield said. “This includes communicating that cleanliness is a priority throughout the property.”

10. Warmer Tones

While white hues will remain popular for a sense of cleanliness, Hytry-Derrington expects to see warmer tones come into play. “Other trending colors will reflect a touch of gray that is both sophisticated and calming.” 

11. Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Practices

Travelers are becoming more aware of waste, and consumers are seeking companies that have a positive impact on the environment. “You’ll see more of a focus on sustainable and recycled materials and products, and LEED-certified properties will move into the forefront,” Connor predicted.

12. Terrazzo

Young designers are experimenting with reclaimed materials like terrazzo, said Hytry-Derrington. ”It provides new options for the perfect canvas to create either monochromatic fine textural surfaces or playful multicolor collages to coordinate with the many hues in a space, blending cool and warm tones in a single surface.” 

13. Reflecting the Location

Greenfield said his firm’s most successful designs are an authentic extension of the locale, community and history of the place where the property resides. “Guests appreciate special touches like local art, traditions and food and drink that celebrate and embrace the uniqueness of the destination.” 

14. Self-Service and Touchless Technologies

The changes brought on by COVID-19 sped up the use of self-service and touchless technologies, and Connor expects that will continue in the coming years. “It will become more common to see spaces incorporating things like self-check in, keyless entry or even app-based entry to rooms and shared spaces like fitness rooms and pools.”

15. App Advantages

Apps that provide keyless guest room entry, control of in-room lighting and television, ordering roomservice, booking treatments, making reservations and checking in/out may lend themselves to opportunities for unique hotel branded icons and will continue to evolve to add ease to a seamless guest experience, Simeone said.

16. Voice-Activated Technologies

Connor expects to see properties move toward incorporating voice-activated technologies like Amazon Alexa or Google Home into guestrooms. “This might mean the end of the in-room telephone while improving the services and information properties can provide to guests,” she said. 

17. Working Spaces

Now that working remotely is standard, Simeone expects to see “more thoughtful spaces inside a guestroom for virtual working calls.” Likewise, hotel meeting rooms will be able to host hybrid (face-to-face and virtual) meetings via technology.

18. Wow Factor

These days, a little wow factor goes a long way, Greenfield said. “From expansive murals and art installations to light shows and dancing water fountains, an impressive display will create a memorable moment, launching endless photo ops, hashtags and social media posts.”

19. Sparking Joy and Exuberance

Hotel designs that include joy and fun—in color choice, space planning, furniture and lighting selection, art and accessory choices—will create memorable guest takeaways, Simeone said.

20. Choreographing the Experience

“Pay special attention to choreographing the guest’s journey throughout the entire hotel to ensure that the experience is well-thought-out and beautiful at every step,” Greenfield said.