The Evolution of Hotel Design
By Gordon Coles, Senior Vice President, Architecture, Design & Construction, Europe, Middle East & Africa at Hilton
In the past year, the hospitality industry has undergone a significant transformation to adapt to the changing demands of guests. Hilton has been at the forefront of ensuring that as travel resumes, hotels are ready to welcome guests back in a safe and secure way. Gordon Coles, Senior Vice President, Architecture, Design & Construction EMEA, Hilton, explores six ways in which hotel design has adapted as a result.
Operational Changes: cleanliness and hygiene
First and foremost, there have been some significant changes on the operational side to ensure our guests and Team Members feel safe and reassured when entering our hotels. In June, we launched Hilton CleanStay to deliver enhanced cleanliness and hygiene across our portfolio. New measures - such as hand sanitising stations and physical distancing measures - have been introduced with a sensitivity to design, ensuring that the aesthetic of the hotel and the guest experience are preserved.
In a significant shift, guests now also find it reassuring to see our housekeeping teams around the hotel. As they look for greater transparency, the lines between front and back of house are becoming blurred, which gives guests a greater sense of comfort.
Product Design: blending necessities with aesthetics
The implementation of these measures has led to a new trend: well-designed and attractive hygiene and cleanliness equipment. As the equipment is here to stay for some time, many hotels are looking for more subtle products that blend into the overall design of the hotel, for example planters to create elegant screening devices, helping these cumbersome items merge more seamlessly with the surroundings.
Spatial Design: reconnecting with the natural world
We had already started to see some major shifts in spatial design, which have been accelerated by the pandemic. The first is a reconnection with the natural world. Come rain or shine, guests are increasingly looking for outdoor space (with shelter and heating!) within a hotel - especially in city centre locations. Rooftop spaces at Trafalgar St James, Curio Collection by Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton Tower of London provided a haven for Londoners during the autumn months - allowing them to reconnect with friends in the open air.
Biophilic design, focusing on nature and the natural world, is also experiencing a resurgence. Consumers are drawn to indoor locations which promise light, greenery-filled surroundings, cleaner air and a greater sense of wellness, merging inside and outside spaces within our hotels.
Lobby spaces: the need for flexibility
This crucial intersection is fast becoming a flexible hive of activity, a place where guests feel welcome upon arrival - whether looking to relax whilst maintaining a distance from others, or to enjoy a drink in the company of others. Now more than ever, spaces need to give people choice to socialise (or not) in a way in which they feel comfortable. Within our lobby spaces, we can create a range of environments which facilitate social connections and respond to those needs.
Our Canopy by Hilton brand, which debuts in the UK this year with Canopy by Hilton London City, is a great example of this concept. The lobby area, named Canopy Central, transitions as the day goes, providing a flexible space for guests to unwind, whatever their preferences.
Contactless technology - but not without a human touch
Launched in 2015, Digital Key allows Hilton Honors members to check-in, choose their room and unlock their door using their mobile device. Roll-out of the technology has accelerated, and it has now been implemented at more than 5,000 hotels worldwide. Hotels are working hard to ensure that, even if guests choose to bypass the front desk using Digital Key, Team Members are very much still there to make them feel welcome -be it helping with recommendations for local attractions or serving their breakfast.
Socially distanced services
Some guests may prefer to reduce the time they spend in public areas such as fitness centres. Those guests can choose to enjoy their workout from the comfort of their own room via our Five Feet to Fitness concept. Five Feet to Fitness rooms feature more than eleven different fitness equipment and accessory options and are available at select hotels, including Doubletree by Hilton London Islington and the recently renovated Hilton Vienna Park.
Similarly, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaasfushi has seen increased interest in dining at its treetop restaurant, Terra. Comprised of seven naturally distanced pods accommodating two or four people, the outlet is perfect for maintaining social distance!