Designing a Feeling

No longer just about indulgent aesthetics and escaping to the extraordinary, hotel guests are looking for unique experiences that move them. This means understanding what emotions or feeling your brand wants guests to experience and take away with them. We’ve rounded up the top 5 trends in hotel experience design that reflects a new breed of hotels that leave guests feeling like they have been part of something bigger…

Feeling local

Being part of the neighbourhood is now tablestakes | Hotels should stop talking about being local, they should already be doing it. This means reflecting local neighbourhoods, culture and environment through activities as well as design. Take Trunk (Hotel), winner of AHEAD Asia’s New Concept of the Year, which puts socialising first

Feeling connected

Breaking down barriers by removing traditional ‘hotel markers’ | The removal of traditional visual ‘markers’ such as check-in desks and uniformed staff is changing the dynamic in the relationship between hotels and guests, with an impact on guests’ behaviours.

Hotels have become less formal, more homelike spaces. More informal staff create a peer to peer relationship rather than one of server-guest. Go to a Hoxton or Moxy lobby and experience travellers, locals and business people hanging out, chatting away without caring who listens in. Now compare that to a traditional luxury hotel where everyone is a bit stiff and speak in hushed tones. Taking away the barriers has created social gathering spaces. By making it less like a hotel, real locals are encouraged to go in – increasing revenue opportunities in food & beverage and organically reinforcing a local and authentic experience

Feeling smart

Guests are willing to do away with the bells and whistles | In previous eras hotels would list their range of facilities and amenities like a rollcall of honour: room service, concierge, bellboys, business centre, valet etc. Nowadays they’re more likely to proclaim their spartan approach a virtue. And modern guests would appear to agree, feeling savvy that they’re getting more bang for their buck in the things that matter most: a truly great experience brought to life through an alchemy of location, vibrant public spaces, design and highly curated materials and products that signal a personal level of care, attention to detail and thoughtfulness.

Feeling creative

The democratisation of design in hotels | Expectations of design have risen. While independent, boutique brands often lead the way, the large chains have made giant strides to move away from the consistently beige boxes that used to define them. And ‘high design’ doesn’t need to come with an excessive price tag. Citizen M, Mama Shelter, Moxy and Motel One all offer great design at an accessible price. Far removed from the corporate aesthetic and values of old, these spaces satisfy guests desires to be immersed in the contemporary currency of creativity and all of its associated kudos.

Feeling present

Essentialism as a growing movement | Less is more, minimalism, simplicity, curation. In an increasingly frenetic, stressful, urbanised world there is a willingness to escape the daily clutter and sensorial assault on our lives, reconnecting with things that really matter. Smaller, minimalist rooms, fewer, highly curated items, purer foods, biophilic, Japanese and Nordic design influences are being embraced by many hotels, offering an urban sanctuary amid the bustle of cities, providing guests with headspace to reconnect with themselves. Take a look at Public Hotels in NYC, ACE’s new experiment in essentialism Sister CityMuji HotelsLeman Locke1 Hotels and the much anticipated Six Senses launching in NYC in 2019.

Experiences are multidimensional. Formed through layers of interconnected stimulus and interaction both physical and intangible. How these layers combine together can have a profound influence on how we feel, leaving a lasting impression, a powerful memory.

At Butterfly, we are all about understanding people and their emotions. We create experiences based on an understanding of how we want people to feel and build the layers around them to create relevant, forward thinking experiences in hospitality, leisure and retail environments.


Michael Hall