Trends and Changes - What's New for Hotel Design?

February 22, 2021

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When we deserted our office at the end of March in 2020 to work from home no one was yet believing that this would be the start of a new era; a beginning of an era that was going to change a lot of things in a speed that we would not have anticipated in our wildest dreams.

Having always thought that individual remote workplaces do not work for an architecture business, we learnt the opposite. We have conducted design workshops from our dining tables, used the “add a caller” button religiously on our iPhones and probably texted more in one year than in our entire lifetime before. Conversations with coworkers are probably less than if we were in the office but are often times more personal as calls are dedicated rather than coincidental. Nonetheless, the social interaction is truly missed by all of us. Some have wandered back into the office for ease of work collaboration or accessing printed files, all the while others prefer the safety of the isolated home.

We have been so desperately awaiting a rescue and several vaccines are on hand now. During our drawn-out period of longing for a clean exit out of this mess, a happy Hollywood ending that would reverse this new way of living, it is only emerging slowly that we won’t depart from this new normal any time soon. Not everyone will be vaccinated, the dual shots will probably only keep their protection effect for half a year and the inoculated might still be able to infect others.

Despite the fact that we are not the beholder of a crystal ball and we won’t know what the future has planned for us, we are and have been observing trends that are likely to accelerate or continue very strongly in the months and years to come; with a coronavirus or not. These new or amplified trends will create pointers the hospitality design sector will likely be learning from:

Less Formality

Our daily lives are becoming increasingly less formal. COVID-19 has accelerated this trend with working from home and having the fancy dinner delivered to our residence of choice. Lifestyle brands like Andaz, Indigo and CitizenM already tossed the traditional uniforms and this movement to less formality in the hotel business will only be the start.

Openness Towards Technology

As many people are relying on technology for the elevated distancing measures for COVID-19, they will adopt and expect the switch in many places like check-ins, housekeeping, text communication and smart rooms to enable a swift action from their own mobile device. Brands like Yotel have experimented for years already with robots that can autonomously navigate the entire hotel to deliver amenities to the guestroom. If the mainstream is ready now to welcome this fully contactless automation remains to be seen though!

Elevated Cleanliness

Health and cleanliness have reached more than ever a top priority on people’s minds which will also move design to cleaner, uncluttered looks and healthier, greener spaces that will turn towards a more biophilic direction with open, airy spaces inviting an abundance of daylight and fresh air.


Personalization and at least the perception of it will find a more heightened resonance with the guest who is wanting to break away from the prolonged daily isolation. For a simple but powerful moment this is easily done with small personal touches that remind the guest that someone thought of them: a hand-written note, an extra drink, candy or fruit upon arrival (as the stocked mini bar might disappear), an extra toy for the kid(s). This can also be achieved with a cleverly added design element that surprises with the unexpected to capture the moment. The Serviced Apartments ZOKU in Amsterdam are a brilliant example, where you can choose your own artwork and some rooms boast gym rings dangling from the ceiling to burn off some calories - to be disinfected for each new guest.

Private Spaces

Secluded areas like private dining rooms have been the norm in several cultures already. With additional safety measures and the precaution of social distancing this idea might get a greater momentum for new dining experiences. The Mediamatic Eten restaurant (again in Amsterdam) already took this idea, during the pandemic, to seat their patrons in small individual greenhouses on a deck along the waterfront. Tables for two and up to four diners can enjoy their own space in these intimate but still fully transparent littles houses, the Serres Séparées.

Careful Frugality

Frugality is the new motto of the hotel industry. While the pencil was and continues to be sharpened, the experiences that the guest has with employees, particularly with the now reduced interaction, will need to be uplifting and more memorable than ever before. Frugal communication has to be replaced with excellent, purposely designed service that transforms the limited human encounters into extraordinary moments.

Flexible Areas

Guests will demand more diversified stays with awe-inspiring surprises. One simple and economical solution will be provided by changeable multi-functional spaces or in more colorful terms: chameleon spaces. Designers will answer this trend by rethinking traditional programs to create areas that allow a variety of uses. Flexible spaces provide the opportunity to keep the spaces occupied throughout the day avoiding revenue-lacking off-times and presenting a multitude of experiences for the guest. Simple transformations of materials, lighting and configurations can quickly change the overall appearance of a room and compose a new impression.

Tailored Experiences

More than ever the hospitality industry will have to answer to the expectations of their experience-driven guest. After being cooped up for months at a time people are longing for uplifting diversion. New-builds and not to forget renovations will have to include those jaw-dropping moments. Instagram wants to be fed again!

Guestroom Adaptations

A strong new movement is insisting to be able to work from anywhere. Hotels are going to listen to this eagerly. It will command to present a design that, with a breeze, switches the hotel room into an appealing “home office” to highlight the fun of workations. Another requirement the guestroom will be tasked with is to morph into a delightful in-room dining sanctuary for the ones who prefer the social distance. Who wants to eat at a desk?

The Great Outdoors

The pandemic taught us again how important outdoor spaces are for us humans. In comparison to the built environment, this often easily affordable space will see a lot more attention moving forward. Roof terraces have been the rage for a while already and this excellent supplemental area to rejoice in the elements will surely maintain its popularity. Be sure to check out the Four Seasons Magazine article about the “13 of the best rooftop bars in the world”. Or, you simply enjoy a true outdoor night in all its natural beauty at one of the Swiss Zero Real Estate "Hotel" locations. For views, see above!

Wholistic Responsibility

While 2020 will be dominated by Covid-19 in our memories, it was also a year of many extreme weather incidents like heat waves, fires, storms and floods. Climate change is having an undeniable impact on consumer behavior. Guests no longer judge sustainability efforts by the number of solar cells on the roof or towel reuse programs. The focus on sustainability goes way beyond the direct touch points. The visitor wants to witness the sustainability efforts in the development first-hand. Community integration becomes as important as protected areas that one can learn about. The sourcing of materials and foods that the guest is coming in touch with goes no longer unquestioned. Wholistic and sound destinations that nourish the entire experience are the ones that are drawing more and more of the valued customers.

FSC Architects is an international resort design firm focused on creating bespoke authentic guest experiences they believe are the most memorable by enriching life. They specialize in hotel architecture, resort design, resort master planning, integrated resorts, boutique resorts, mixed-use and residential projects that require their excellent place-making skills and transcendent adaptation of culture, climate, place and natural environment.