Expectations of today’s hotel guests have never been higher. In a world where aesthetics are everything, driven by booming social media platforms such as Instagram, hotel interiors and exteriors are changing and a new wave of design trends has followed suit. With a range of high-profile hospitality design projects under her belt – including Wales’ first apart-hotel, the Staybridge Suites – our Associate Director for Interiors, Lisa Don, looks at some key trends influencing hospitality design.

As design-savvy consumers look for experience-driven brands that are responsive to their locations and display a clear sense of place, so they are seeking something unique, different, eclectic and authentic in their hotel stays. With the ‘Insta-factor’ influencing decision-making in all areas of life, so the design narrative of the hospitality industry has had to shift to reflect what people want to leave with: a story of a great experience. Design-conscious travellers are increasingly more discerning and hankering after the next ‘tell all’ experience. Hotel stays must therefore go above and beyond to deliver the wow factor, while still delivering maximum comfort and a warm welcome. Our recent collaboration with the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) on a design refresh of the St David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay reflects this shift to more experience-based stays. The hotel now benefits from IHG’s voco™ brand’s bold and distinctive design, with deep colours adding depth and warmth to public spaces, underpinned by the brand’s charming character. Inspired by the meaning ‘to invite’ or to ‘come together’ in Latin, voco’s key aim is to combine both the informality and charm of an individual hotel with the quality and reassurance of its global and respected brand. From operations to guest experience, guests expect seamless connectivity at all times, even on holiday, as well as high-end gadgetry for ultimate comfort. As part of the voco St David’s refresh, USB points were incorporate, and TVs upgraded to provide streaming services to create more choice and connectivity for guests. Across other projects, we also collaborated with hotel providers and conservation agencies to ensure progressive tech solutions and comfort can be incorporated sympathetically into older and listed buildings.

As flexible lifestyles are becoming more sought-after, and the lines between work and leisure continue to blur, so the trend of extended stays is reaching unprecedented highs. Long-term stay options not only provide a home-like experience for groups and individual guests, but also far more scope to mix work and play – such as bringing family and friends on corporate trips. Of course, apart-hotels are by no means a new concept, but the rising popularity of this specific type of stay has naturally influenced design concepts. Our recent work designing the Staybridge Suites – the first apart-hotel of its kind in Wales – illustrates this trend. Offering long-stay suites, with fully-equipped kitchens and separate, collaborative work spaces, the Staybridge Suites Hotel provides travellers with maximum flexibility to combine the comfort and community of home with stand-out, on-demand hotel services and facilities, such as a gym, shop and laundry facilities.

As society has become more aware of irreversible environmental damage caused by modern consumer choices, so public mindsets have shifted. A desire for more conscious living has meant increasing consumer demand for environmentally responsible hotel stays. Guests want more than just a room to sleep; they want to be part of something; a sense of place and a story. Our work on an iconic Grade II Listed building in Leeds had this vision at its core, pursuing a sustainable approach to every element of the conversion of the former Methodist Church into a 70-bed hotel. With consideration to renewable energy, water scarcity, environmental impact of plastic and food chains, the brief was for sustainable, locally sourced materials, design and furniture to ensure the hotel is as sensitive to the history and architecture as it is to the environment. In addition, the building will perfectly marry the luxe factor expected in a 4* hotel with The Methodist Church’s ethos, by including a place of contemplation. In addition to this, by contributing proceeds to the Church’s charitable work, guests will be provided with a truly holistic and sustainable guest experience.