5 extraordinary hotel concepts currently on the boards

Writer Pauline Brettell cuts through the noise to uncover the hotel concepts that are currently on the boards that will make the biggest impact when they are made into reality…

3D printed interior designed by BIG for El Cosmico Marfa

When it comes to hotel concepts in 2023 that are currently on the boards, creativity, collaboration and community would appear to be the keywords taking the hospitality industry striding over the hills and into the future. The interesting thing about all of those c-words is how open to interpretation they are. While for some it is about retracing roots and exploring historical points of reference, for others it is about embracing all the technology our generation has acquired and directing it with – hopefully – a greater mindfulness and sense of responsibility.

In the process of trying to sift through the style to get to the substance, we discovered a few concepts that both caught our eye and gave us pause for thought. From 3D printing to biophilic bolt-holes, as boundaries shift and expectations rise, the only limit to hotel designs and concepts would appear to be the imagination. So, as hotels are built, resorts reimagined and interiors designed and redesigned on a daily basis, what are the concepts that have traction and are making an impact on our collective design directory?

A futuristic hotel in an ancient desert

render of proposed hotel in dead sea region

Image credit: Bar Orian

With a strap like that, this project grabs attention from the drawing board, as it sets out its design inspiration that is scheduled to be set in bricks and mortar by 2025.

Located in the Judaen Desert, the design by Bar Orian Architects, in collaboration with Lambs & Lions Studio, is all about maximising the unique and relatively inhospitable Dead Sea terrain, the lowest place on earth. Having been drawn in by the futuristic aesthetic, reading through the concept, what is more interesting is how the building will be drawing on ancient local design principles. It is about immersing the design in its location and learning from it, exploring architectural principles based on protection from the desert weather conditions. For this purpose, the hotel is designed in the shape of a desert khan – a building with square proportions and a large courtyard in the centre. In this concept, the design is about collaborating with, not fighting against, the elements and it is in fact these environmental challenges which gives the property its USP.

El Cosmico, Marfa

a series of interlinked circular cabins designed to be 3D printed for El cosmico Marfa by BIG

Image credit: BIG

Referring back to the point made earlier about embracing technology, while at the same time celebrating the fact that the same technology does not have to take us down a chrome pillared path to Gotham city, is the El Cosmico campground hotel in Marfa, Texas. Set to be relocated and expanded to encompass 62 acres, El Cosmico will feature domed, arched, vaulted and parabolic forms.

The reimagination of the camping site is the result of a partnership with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Icon, the leader in advanced construction techniques using large-scale 3D printing. Breaking ground in 2024, El Cosmico will continue to celebrate the convergence of creative culture and the minimalist natural environment of the Marfa landscape. The words quiet luxury are being thrown around a lot at the moment – this project seems to encapsulate the essence of the trend, as it is both groundbreaking and understated at the same time.

The ONE Hotel Design

hotel built around a central courtyard with a tree in natural materials with lamplight

Image credit: Ajman University

Student projects often show us what to expect in the future from the next generation of hotel designers and the Interior Design students of Ajman University  do not disappoint with reference as varied as The Queens Gambit and Memphis Design – who didn’t flirt with the colourful asymmetry and terrazzo of Sottsass and company as a design student? Personally this concept, The ONE Hotel, caught my attention with the following explanation: “The project consists of two historical buildings transformed into a hotel, which promotes traditional design, sustainability, hospitality and social community,” explained designers Abeer Aziz and Heba Dweik.

This project looks carefully at some of the key issues facing the industry and finds design solutions that work and it would be wonderful to see it off the board and on location.

Ancestral Handmade Hotels

A-frame hotel guestroom set in nature using wood and stone

Image credit: Ancestral Handmade Hotels

Ancestral Handmade Hotels is a new regenerative wellness hotel concept, which aims to revive and celebrate ancestral wisdom and tribal traditions at every step – from building methods to wellness programming. Rather than the umbrella brand taking the concept to a location, the concept is shaped from the bottom up starting with the location and its own history of wellness and healing and design traditions, with a particular emphasis on textiles in this process. The idea is to harness the language of nature while reviving local building traditions. With claims to create restorative and calm experiences on a biological cellular level, this is biophilic design on steroids!

With wellness clearly being one of the most important trends shaping the hospitality industry this decade, are concepts like Ancestral Handmade Hotels truly designing something new, or are we all being seduced by the biodegradable handwoven hemp of the emperors new clothes?

The Line

The Line Saudi Arabia Hotel Designs

Image credit: Neom

No conceptual conversation is complete without mentioning the castle in the sand – The Line. Developed by Neom, The Line’s mirrored-wall city will cost a reported $500 Billion to design, and it will create 380,000 jobs. While on the outside The Line will reflect dessert landscape, inside the urban city is expected to contain residential, hospitality and leisure spaces as well as vertical gardens and educational buildings. Each building will be stacked and layered in an arranged that the visionaries behind its concept are calling ‘Zero Gravity Urbanism’.

As discussed previously on Hotel Designs, the design and architecture community continue to question the development’s social impact on Saudi Arabia and its people, while also being intrigued and dare we say inspired, by the forward-thinking approach from Neom. Whether you love it, loathe it, or are simply watching it unfold from a distance, this is a project that is undoubtedly going to make its mark on our planet.

Main image credit: BIG