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How will hotel public spaces overcome Covid-19?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
How will hotel public spaces overcome Covid-19?

To kickstart ‘public spaces’ being placed under the editorial spotlight this month, Emma Cook takes the reigns to explore how the pandemic will evolve hotel lobbies, hotel arrival and the hospitality experience in general once more…

Hotels: the home away from home. Except, now, we want to be anywhere but our homes! Endless lockdowns have left people craving to escape the confinement of their house, and where are modern travellers desperate to escape to? Hotels is where!

Since the late 1980s, unique experience in hotels has taken over, and the desire to have an authentic experience has changed the way in which hotels are designed. Travellers becoming more savvy – and just general interest in culture – has seen hotels use the local vernaculars as concept for their design: both physical and experience. Brand standards are slowly being taken over by distinctive boutique hotels which encapsulate the local identity – creating a more immersive experience.

The experience of a hotel is arguably more influential than the design when creating repeat business; although, the two go hand-in-hand. When you enter a space, you don’t remember the colours of the flooring or the warmth of the lighting, instead you remember if you felt excited, uncomfortable or inspired. One can appreciate a great looking hotel on Pinterest, for example, but when they walk into that same hotel in real life, the feeling they get may be completely different. Design becomes experience when the senses are stimulated. Touch, sound, and human interaction are all part of the design experience and can completely change the way someone feels in the space. However, in the face of Covid-19, how will the lack of touch and interaction impact the hotel experience?

More often than not, designers and hoteliers are aiming to achieve a sense of the hotel’s brand and ethos when guests enter the building. If the public spaces are particularly open plan and airy, the space will feel sociable and will have a ‘buzz’ about it. On the contrary, if a hotel has more corridors, soft music, and a luxurious feel, you could hazard a guess that it will probably be an older demographic with more middle-class desires. This initial representation comes in the service too; a long marble check-in desk compared to a person carrying a tablet, both give off a very different ambience. Once hotels can open to the public again, it’ll be interesting to see which types of hotels people are more drawn to. The open plan and social hotel may now be stark and empty whereas the more private hotel may feel too much like being back in lockdown.

Image of lively public area inside W Osaka

Image caption: Stylish interior design scheme inside W Osaka, conceived by Amsterdam-based studio concrete

In the last decade, the amount of human contact we get has reduced massively. Thanks to technology, everything can now be done and ordered at the touch of a button. Since Covid-19, the importance of human connection has become very apparent, and we may see a reversion to more face-to-face service by choice of the guest. There is a strong argument between the convenient hygiene of self-check-in stations vs. the sought-after human interaction of desk staff. The flexibility of allowing the guest to do what makes them feel more comfortable will make for a successful hotel check-in experience.

Hotel public spaces host a wealth of activities: arriving, waiting, working, meeting friends, eating, and departing. Factoring flexibility into the design can give space to these activities and allow them to cohesively work in one room to fulfil the needs and wants of guests. Larger, more flexible spaces also allow for more people in one room, whilst maintaining a safe distance. This retains the social aspect that guests will crave yet continues to keep them safe. Creating lots of small breakout spaces will make potentially longer waiting times feel more pleasant but also creates places for people to grab a coffee or work. Savvy designers may be able to manipulate human traffic within the spaces by creating subtle boundaries. A simple change in lighting or furniture can define spaces and flooring materials can create ‘pathways’ for guests to subconsciously follow. Gone will be the days of ‘one way’ signs and ‘2m apart’.

Interior visualisation of ADP's new hotel in Kyiv

Image caption: A hotel concept in Kyiv, conceived by ADP Architecture with the aim to create a deeper connection with the local vernacular.

Hygiene will be at the forefront of hospitality design. After being cooped up in the safety of their own homes, people need to feel comfortable in knowing that the place they are staying is clean. However, being surrounded by service people cleaning 24/7 wont exactly create a warm and inviting environment. Minimalism tends to give off a sterile aesthetic which can lead people into thinking the surfaces are cleaner than they look – this comes with both materiality and form. Brass and other copper alloys have antimicrobial properties and materials like these, that not only look amazing but also help tackle some of the bacterial issues, can be used at touch points like handles and railings. If people feel safe in an environment, they will feel more comfortable engaging with others in the same room, increasing sociability and the overall experience.

Ventilation is key and hotels with open spaces are bound to do well in the future. Whether it’s a courtyard, outdoor eatery or a guestroom balcony, people want to know that the air around them is fresh and clean. Greenery in indoor spaces is an easy way to make a room feel fresher and cleaner, even if it’s not, and planting can also be a way of dividing spaces and creating clear pathways. Architectural science may see a big movement into breathable technology. Long gone will be air conditioning; façades that can breathe and act like skin will become the new way of ventilating and cooling/heating a building.

Image of beach-side reception in the Maldives

Image caption: An open-air public area experience at Seaside Finolhu in the Maldives, conceived by Muza Lab. | Image credit: Seaside Finolhu/Brechenmacher & Baumann

More than ever, people are aware of their own personal wellbeing and the idea of routine will be extremely important for a lot of people now. Hotels can take inspiration from Japanese architecture which implements ritualistic elements into design which has been proven as an architectural way to increase mental wellbeing. Simply adding a few wash basins to the entrance of a hotel lobby can incorporate ritualistic elements to the design and let guests know that the hotel is a clean space. The sinks don’t need to look unsightly either, the Address Hotel, Dubai Marina, has beautiful sinks which are a feature of the entrance.

After a year of lockdowns and restriction, people have become very adapted to working from home and communicating through virtual means. Those who once travelled for business may not need to anymore yet flexibility in where people can work from may increase numbers of remote workers. Meeting rooms may become dormant as working from the bedside is the new norm and an increase in communal workspaces will be required. The flexibility to choose where to work from will be high on the priority list for remote workers and they will be looking to enjoy working from a poolside, quiet café, or lounge seating area. Although hotels should not want to become the new workplace, in fear of jeopardising leisure travellers’ experience. Will a new generation of workplace hotels be born, as a result, to keep definitive boundaries between work and play?

It will be a challenge for both designers and hoteliers to allow guests to feel comfortable in public spaces again, without removing the human interaction that people crave and need more than ever right now. New priorities of guests will have inevitably changed since Covid-19 but the experience they desire will remain the same. Hotel public spaces need to offer the same amount of uniqueness as they already do but need to also respond to the heightened concerns of visitors.

Main image credit: Edition Hotels

Lobby of St Ermin's Hotel

Spotlight On: The hotel lobby and Furniture

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Throughout September, Hotel Designs will be shining the spotlight on two areas that together help the other evolve. Namely: the hotel lobby and furniture…

Next month, Hotel Designs will be examining first impressions in the hotel lobby and how what is constantly referred to as the ‘beating heart of the hotel, home of the energetic pulse, has evolved over the years to cater towards modern travellers. In addition to this, the publication will also stitch together the best furniture pieces and evolving trends in international hotel design.

The hotel lobby 

Hotel lobby

Image credit: Hotel ICON, Hong Kong

The lobby can make or break a hotel concept. The challenge for international interior designers continues to be merging functionality with personality. With hotels being more than just a bed for the night, the hotel lobby as we know it is now transforming into community spaces as opposed to a seating area pre or post check in. The editorial team will take a look at the best examples and suggest where the future of the lobby will sit.


Image credit: Corinthia London

Luxury with an edge is the theme of 2018 when it comes to furniture. In May, Milan saw the first glimpse of this year’s major trends. These showed a definite move towards comfort and a nod to 1950s design. How are designers incorporating this into their work? As show seasons begins, the editorial team take a deeper look at this sector.

If you’re a supplier in either of these categories and want your products to reach more than 41,000 hoteliers, interior designers and architects per month, there are plenty of ways you can get involved with these features next month, from supplying an opinion piece to working with us on a targeted mini-series.

If you wish to find out more, please contact Phoebe Kasapi on 01992 374059 or p.kasapi@forumevents.co.uk

Main image credit: St Ermin’s Hotel, London

Morgan Furniture’s growing footprints

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Recommended Supplier Morgan Furniture has further expanded its lobbyesque Pimlico collection…

Morgan’s Pimlico collection began as a side chair with a small footprint, and has since developed to include a variety of size options and high-backs. With smooth curved lines and a unique oval seat pad, the expanded collection offers further possibilities and interior solutions; creating a cohesive collection suited to both workplace and hospitality interiors.

 The dramatic high back booth sofa and lounge chairs act as a statement piece

Morgan Pimlico 142 High-back Lounge Chairs. Fully upholstered for maximum comport, Pimlico succeeds in offering a look, which is youthful as well as being timeless and elegant. The dramatic high back booth sofa and lounge chairs act as a statement piece, whilst also offering a practical acoustic solution for private working and relaxation.

Alongside these products, the collection includes a number of low back options including a luxuriously deep sofa, a higher sit banquette sofa, lounge chairs and dining/meeting chairs.

To view these new collections please visit the Morgan showroom at 1 Dallington Street, ECV1 0BH.

Morgan Furniture are one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, click here.

Maximising your guests’ in-hotel experience through interior design

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From time-saving conveniences to luxurious treats and perks, anything you can do to design a space that puts the demands and needs of guests on a pedestal will get you one step closer to loyal, happy customers who’ll spend stay after stay in your hotel…

There are options galore when it comes to upgrading the layout and interior design of your hotel in the name of improved guest satisfaction. If you’re on a mission to maximise guest experiences forever more, with a little help from our friends at Henryka, we’ve got a few big ideas you can implement to transform your hotel from mere accommodation into a luxurious departure from everyday life.

Luxurious lobbies

The gateway to all experiences that follow, your hotel lobby is your one and only opportunity to create an instant positive impression on guests. The world’s most opulent and inviting lobbies typically make use of decadent yet minimalist design – with striking geometric shapes, stripped-back colour schemes and large, airy atriums all being mainstays of the luxury hotel lobby.

In recent times, hotel architects and interior designers have driven a shift in how lobbies are used by guests – using strategic design to encourage their use as a vibrant communal area where exhibits and even entertainment can take place. To level up guest experiences in your hotel, consider how your functional lobby can be upgraded to a large, open lounge where there’s much more on the menu than check ins and check outs.

Irresistible concessions stands

Food is the way to almost any guest’s heart, making concessions stands serving edibles a must for any hotel designer looking to provide a truly flavourful and filling experience to all. From sweets and snacks to breakfast options and refreshing beverages, the world is your oyster when it comes to what to offer – regardless, your guests will be left hungry for more.

Besides edibles, there are other equally delicious options available when it comes to concessions stands – such as mini retail outlets selling jewellery, tickets to local events, and souvenirs for friends and family back home, to name but a few examples. Depending on your hotel’s brand, some of these may not be suitable – the key, as always, is to identify what sets your hotel apart and reflect this theme in everything from the overall design to the finer details.


Image credit: Unsplash

Streamlined guest journeys

The journey guests take through your hotel should be no accident, especially considering the myriad of ways this route can be engineered in an aim to improve overall customer satisfaction. Borrowing from best-practice merchandising techniques used in brick-and-mortar retail environments, you can strategically design the overall layout of the space – ensuring guests are never far from an opportunity to treat themselves within the walls of your hotel.

Whatever concessions and amenities you have on offer, guests should have immediate access to everything their heart desires – with a logical and unobstructed route through the lobby and communal area so that everything is within reach and immediately visible (or as close as you can get). In a practical sense, access to all areas of your hotel should be within easy reach for customers of all ages and, of course, for disabled guests, too. Inclusivity is non-negotiable in any hotel – and every attempt to go above and beyond to accommodate your guests will be acknowledged and appreciated.

Itinerary-planning extras

Particularly important in the case of those visiting for pleasure rather than business, freebies and takeaways designed to help guests plan their trip are always well received. Including in your reception area and lobby brochures, leaflets and flyers for local events and attractions will mean that your guests can begin putting their holiday itinerary together from the moment they enter your hotel.

However, for bonus points, you can go the extra mile and pursue partnerships with local businesses offering exciting tours, workshops and more, and provide exclusive discounts or passes to these experiences for your guests – as a thank you for choosing your hotel over nearby competitors. Whichever of these perks you provide in your hotel, ensure displays are high-quality, uncluttered and meticulously organised – contributing to a minimal luxury aesthetic, and enhancing your hotel’s brand image.

Your guests deserve the best from check in to check out – and as the needs of travellers continue to evolve, it’s up to hotel chains large and small to ensure that everything that happens during a guest’s experience helps to build a reputation for reliability, convenience and unmatched comfort. By implementing these important changes, you can take the first step towards becoming the hotel brand you want to be.

Large and quirky public area

Award-winning Naumi Auckland unveils exclusive art collection

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In the lobby, a 24-carat gold textured wall represents the feathered nape of the native Tui bird…

Art and design play a central role at Naumi Auckland Airport, which opened in February. Already heralded as the world’s coolest airport hotel, making it into Forbes’ list of “The Best Airport Hotels In The World 2018”, Naumi Auckland Airport is a living gallery as well as a hotel. Its impressive work embellishes the property from the entrance through to each and every guestroom. From up-and-coming artists in New Zealand as well as established names internationally, the multi-sensory pieces reference the native Tui bird, on which the hotel’s design is centred, as well as the beautiful landscapes of the country.

Large lobby area with gold wall

One of the most striking works at Naumi Auckland is found in the lobby. Greeting guests as they arrive is a 24-carat gold textured wall which represents the feathered nape of the Tui bird. Commissioned to the NY Art Department (New Zealand), the 95 gold discs are hand painted with a feather pattern. Next to the wall sits a customized two and half metre bird cage as well as paintings from Australian artist Belynda Henry. Winner of the SNW Wynne prize, Belynda was specially commissioned to capture the natural Auckland landscape and started the process by sitting on the rooftop of the hotel to sketch the view. Her original pieces have been transformed onto rugs in the guest rooms as a playful interpretation of the Tui bird’s native surroundings. The rugs allow guests to engage with the natural landscape through a walkable piece of art.

Close up of the tactile wall in the lobby

Among the eclectic mix of handpicked furnishings from the likes of Jonathan Adler and Kartell are works by New Zealand based designer Judi Bagust. Commissioned to work on original pieces for the hotel, the artist chose to capture the lyrical notes of the singing Tui bird. The largest work is found in the Paksa Restaurant as well as prints hanging in the guestrooms, complete with customized brass frames. Seemingly floating in space, Bagust’s brushed ink marks stretch, loop and fold across the paper in one elegant, oscillating movement. Each mark twists and turns to give the effect of a delicate dance of a geological form or musical score.

Modern dark-lit guestroom

In keeping with the hotel’s art theme, Naumi Auckland is home to two design suites including the Dotty Suite, inspired by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, known for her brightly coloured conceptual pieces. Each piece of furniture, wall and soft furnishing will be inspired by Kusama’s signature dots, making it a one of a kind experience for guests. Naumi was the sponsor for Auckland Art Gallery’s Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama Project, that ran earlier this year.

The hotel's entrance from the street

Hotel Café Royal opens new lobby designed by Piero Lissoni

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Just metres from London’s Piccadilly Circus, Hotel Café Royal unveils its new lobby…

London’s five-star Hotel Café Royal has unveiled its new lobby and guest arrival experience. Designed and overseen by the world-renowned architect and interior designer Piero Lissoni and created with a total investment of almost £5m, the large new lobby delivers an outstanding and glamorous entrance to the hotel. Inspired by the lobbies of the world’s Palace hotels, the new reception area at Hotel Café Royal is double height and one of the largest in London. With the new restaurant above, also designed by Lissoni, this new grand space fully completes the offering at the hotel, now open for five years.

“I wanted to respect and convey the true ‘feeling’ of London by combining the contemporary life and taste of the city’s inhabitants with its inheritant elegance and tradition, explains Lissoni. “On working with The Set hotels in the collaborative efforts to create and complete the project he stated “on this project the word ‘impossible’ was forbidden to use”.

Having worked with Lissoni frequently in the past, most notably on the spectactular transformation of a Dutch heritage building into the renowned Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam, Georgi Akirov, Chairman of The Set says of this project: “Loved by London residents and international guests alike, Hotel Café Royal enjoys an unrivalled setting and an exceptional address as the living room of London and with this new lobby and restaurant they will now have another grand space in which to convene, converse and celebrate.”

Large chandelier takes centre stage in the hotel's lobby

Lissoni’s previous global projects are varied and extend to yachts, residential properties and luxury hotels including the Conservatorium in Amsterdam, also owned by The Set hotels. In addition to his architectural work, Lissoni is also lauded for his extensive work in furniture design, having worked for companies such as  Boffi, Cassina, B&B Italia and Flos. Working closely with the hotel team, Lissoni has transformed the main entrance to the hotel on Air Street.  The transformation of this historical space, part of the original Café Royal built in 1926 is a sensitive yet striking one, a hallmark of Lissoni’s work.

The minimalist yet opulent lobby is characterised by a sense of space and contemporary glamour that marries the building’s guilded past with its patrons’ contemporary lifestyles. As visitors arrive through the double height revolving door they are first greeted by a view of the bespoke Murano glass chandelier that dominates the room.

Designed by a fabled Italian firm Vistosi, the chandelier weighs over 350 kilograms and is situated above a table at the centre of the room designed by Lissoni himself displaying flowers by Hotel Café Royal’s in-house florist Jamie Aston. The back of the room holds the reception and guest relations desks flanked on each side by large bookshelves containing a library of books produced and curated by Maison Assouline.

To complete the lobby, waiting areas with furniture pieces designed by Paolo Castelli and by legendary Italian makers Poltrona Frau, Cassina and Living Divani are available to guests and visitors alike. Of the lighting in the room, Lissoni described the effect he wanted to achieve as ‘sexy and sensual, the poetic contrast against the darkness’ of the traditionally listed room. Manufacterers used to light the space include Architectural FX (using their sustainable LED system), Atrium Flos and John Cullen.

Above the new lobby space, Lissoni’s work continues into the 110 cover restaurant. A personal passion for food and kitchen design has led the architect to work with a number of chefs and now the internationally-renowned Laurent Tourondel who will shortly open the new restaurant at Hotel Café Royal.



Colourful wall mural resembles skyline of London

Wallpaper: Wallsauce launches new antimicrobial and antibacterial range

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The wallpaper company launches new ranges of vibrant wallpapers that won’t breed harmful bacteria…

The cleanliness of hotels has long been debated over the years. In 2016, a report by Direct365 showed that 80 per cent of Brits would leave a hotel if it didn’t meet their hygiene and cleanliness expectations.

It is perhaps this statistic that led Wallsauce to launch an antibacterial and antimicrobial wallpaper for the hospitality sector. Designed for vulnerable environments, the material used in the products has been coated with a special formula that has been rigorously tested to ensure bacteria, mould and mildew won’t breed.

Grey wall mural reflects sound speakers on the wall

The wallpaper is available with any design presented at Wallsauce, including its ‘upload your own image’ feature. This allows hotels and restaurants to adorn blank walls with fresh and colourful imagery that will leave a lasting impression on customers whilst preventing the growth of micro-organisms.

Indidesign work on lobby of Hilton San Francisco

Sneak Peek: Indidesign redesigns Hilton San Francisco lobby

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Indidesign has just completed a renovation of the 17,160-square-foot lobby at Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel.

The firm were inspired by San Francisco’s raw, yet detailed, steel structures, bridges, and turn-of-the-century flare.

Sneak Peek: Indidesign redesigns Hilton San Francisco lobby

Design details include custom elements with structural features throughout the lobby, such as the metal edges that stamp the corners of columns and a massive, central geometric light fixture.

Sneak Peek: Indidesign redesigns Hilton San Francisco lobby

One of the design challenges was integrating the new bar and Herb N’ Kitchen Market into the pre-existing space. As the majority of the lobby area – including the building’s structure, stone flooring, and central entry door system – was maintained, the team had to come up with several creative solutions to shift the dynamic of the lobby into a cohesive lounge space.

Sneak Peek: Indidesign redesigns Hilton San Francisco lobby

To fit all desired components and make the most of the space, the team streamlined the columns and front desk, as well as integrated furnishings that complement the lobby.