Elevating the guest experience


Seven trends shaping hotel architecture

Hotel design has changed dramatically in the past 10 years, and it will only continue to radically evolve as Generation Z, also known as Zoomers, seek “experiences” around the world. The “guest experience” is paramount in hotel design and it’s being simplified in current and future hotel designs.

Telling a story is essential in creating a memorable experience, and hoteliers are accomplishing that via subtle touches integrated into a hotel’s exterior and interior architecture. This “story” often pays homage to the local geography, history, or culinary heritage of the hotel’s setting. A unique and interesting story creates lasting memories and promotes the area, encouraging guests to explore the local surroundings, often extending the hotel visit and capturing more of that coveted bleisure traffic. Here are seven trends in hotel architecture that are on the rise.

Hotel design trends include the hotel becoming more of a mixed-use destination. In the future, it will be important for hotels to integrate residential, retail, restaurants, office, and entertainment. A rich mix of uses and activities strengthens the story and experience while creating additional revenue for the hotelier. These additional activities can be components of a larger mixed-use development or integrated into the hotel building. Amenities can be shared and enjoyed by all the varied users.

Hotel design melds the indoors and outdoors, creating memorable experiences throughout the day and night. These experiences can include the discovery of hidden courtyards, rooftop terraces, and activated alleys. Operable glass walls allow seamless movement from indoors to outdoors. Future hotels will invite fresh air and nature into the building, with landscaping spread throughout the property. The landscaping will easily be maintained and complemented by an abundance of natural light. All these factors contribute to the WELL building standard of the hotel.

We are also seeing the traditional, utilitarian hotel pool continue to evolve. This space is becoming more experiential and interactive via fountains, water walls, and LED lighting with easy access to restaurants and bars. The pool can easily be converted to nighttime, backlit dance floors. Pool lounge furniture can be built into a shallow pool, and zeroedge pools are becoming more popular on rooftop terraces, fusing the pool with nature on the horizon beyond.

Hotel design encourages social interaction. Bars, coffee shops, cozy nooks, and workspaces can be spread throughout the hotel. For example, the bar on an upper-level floor can be the check-in touchpoint for guests, while large, double-sided fireplaces and outdoor fire pits can encourage interaction between guests. Lobbies can be more of a hangout for the younger guests, with interactive gaming opportunities.

Public spaces are starting to overlap more, which simplifies guest circulation throughout the property. Hotels often incorporate two or three different hotel brands in one building, which can streamline guest activities and back-of-house operations. And the hotel building can continue to add additional functions and uses, creating destination spaces for guests. This adds to the hotel’s appeal for hosting group events, including weddings, conferences, and trade shows.

The guestroom design trend of “less is more” can accomplish two goals. With large windows, hidden air conditioners, and streamlined furniture, the hotel guestroom can offer a memorable experience by following the “less is more” design trend. At the same time, hotels can offer technology-based means to access the room, open doors, program the audio-visual amenities, adjust the blinds, pre-set the air conditioning before arrival, etc. And, no longer the domain of science fiction, robots will be able to assist guests and provide much of the guestroom cleaning.

It seems like a mobile device is perpetually in the hand of millennials and Gen Z to document their experiences. Hotel architects and interior designers are designing spaces with Instagrammable moments in mind. These hotels are integrating unique features throughout the hotel’s interiors and exteriors to allow these experiences to be captured and shared with friends. For example, interactive elevators, green biophilia walls, unique landscape features, murals, water features, funky furniture, and edgy lighting are all popular options. If implemented successfully, hoteliers can enjoy free marketing as these experiences are posted to various social media outlets and circulated around the world.

stephen overcash

Stephen Overcash is managing principal for ODA Architecture. He can be reached at (704) 905-0423 or .


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