Hotel concepts: flights of fancy on the hotel development scene

From designs inspired by the ‘birds and the bees’ – not those ones – right through to the metaverse and beyond, this month we take a look at hotel concepts that are setting trends, responding to change and all the contradictions in between…

3d printed Glam Pods designed by Wimberly Interiors

After being locked down and earth-bound for so long, it is perhaps not surprising that hotel designs are being inspired by flight – whether in the literal or more metaphorical sense – as design moves both up and out. Up into the trees, and out into the metaverse. In a world that so often seems characterised by extremes, the universe of hospitality can reflect, deflect and direct those extremes, and while some designers are moving into the metaverse, others are getting more focussed and grounded as questions around sustainable and circular design resonate louder.

What is in fact the way forward? Is it a nuclear-powered hotel in the sky, or is that a throwback more appropriate for a James bond villain? Should we be looking to the horizon for design inspiration or keeping our feet firmly on the ground? While this series on hotel concepts usually focusses on the bold and bizarre, I have introduced some smaller, slightly more contained designs into the mix, which, to my mind, embrace larger and brighter concepts than those floating about in the metaverse – but perhaps I have missed the point there?

Architecture reconnected to nature

looking up and out at the birdhouses in Treehotel by BIG

Image credit: BIG

Earlier this year, we featured the plans by BIG design for BIOSPHERE – this is one concept that has become reality, and you can now book to stay in this suspended bird-nest adorned pod in the trees. Aside from the design, the guiding concept behind this is nature – reconnecting to nature, re-wilding, regenerating – it truly is all going to the birds…

3d printed Glam Pods designed by Wimberly Interiors

Image credit: Wimberly Interiors

Another concept firmly rooted in the natural world while simultaneously embracing technology, is the Glam Pod design. Designed by Wimberley Interiors, these sustainable 3D printed glampods embrace forward thinking technology, yet are all about creating an immersive experience in nature while offering guests luxurious lifestyle solutions. Envisioned for ultra-remote locations, Glam Pods, inspired by the spiralling coil of a shell, have been designed as a solution for everything from a backyard guest house to an off-the-grid lifestyle.

Contained architecture

Landing back to the bird and flight analogy, designer Ora Ito is no stranger to the virtual world of design, having started his career with virtual products highjacked from top brands that instantly became global icons of the digital revolution. In a collaboration with Accor, the Flying Nest shipping container hotel project was designed as a mobile, temporary hotel offering with low environmental impact at its core.  With its bold design, this concept of mobile and sustainable accommodation is in line with AccorHotels’ innovative approach of constantly rethinking tomorrow’s hospitality in response to a strong trend, that of guests expecting to enjoy exclusive and intense yet transitory experiences.

Head in the clouds

Render of metaverse hotel experience Atari

Image credit: Atari

From small and contained to infinity and beyond as things move both virtual and into the metaverse. Both citizenM and LEVEN have taken strides into the future and are planting their brand flags in this new territory. With this, suddenly virtual hotels and spaces are no longer the realm of the future, but are with us in the here and now. How and if they will become more integrated into our social spaces will be an interesting design journey. Remaining on the interface between virtual and real time, a new addition to the Las Vegas hotel skyline plans to walk that rope. Atari, a trailblazer in the gaming industry, is pioneering the new concept combining the iconic brand within a hotel destination designed by Gensler, providing guests with a video game-themed destination. Hunger Games here we come!

Need for speed 

Render of Escapade Silverstone accomodations

Image credit: Escapade Living

Turn on your engines. Last year we got excited about Escapde Living’s new hospitality concept at Silverstone, home of the UK Grand Prix. Well, the project, designed by Twelve Architects with interiors of the residences conceptualised by Bergman Design House, has gone up a gear. The trackside luxury retreats, Escapade Silverstone, are being designed to be an abstract representation of a F1 car overtaking. The residences themselves have cantilevered terraces, allowing spectators to get even closer to the racetrack. Light-filled and with high acoustic specifications, each sanctuary will have underfloor heating, comfort cooling and ensuite bathrooms.

Birds and the bees

And finally bringing in the bees to join the birds. Going a little off topic with this, but the perfectly formed little structure, designed by Invisible Studio and sheltered on the estate of The Newt in Somerset, provides both a home for bees, a Beezantium, along with an exhibition centre for guests and visitors. The design is practical for the bees and educational for the visitors, with elements of design whimsy thrown in for good measure.

the Beezantium designed by Invisible Studio for The Newt

Image credit: Invisible Studio

The point about the Beezantium is that increasingly there is a move to introspection, and sometimes, it is the little things that count. Should cutting edge design shift from looking beyond our planet for outlandish inspiration to something entirely more grounded? Are the truly exciting designs for the future the ones that can embrace both?

Main image credit: Wimberly Interiors