If it’s fun, people will come.
Are your guests excited to spend time in your hotel’s lobby? Do they linger over a drink, text their friends to join them, and then post this fabulous outing on social media? If not, it may be time to think about an upgrade from conference-room-chic to tastemaker destination.
From huge international brands to small boutique establishments, hotels of all shapes and sizes are seeing the merits of this trend and acting accordingly. Here are three reasons why you should consider following suit.
It’s what your guests want
In the past, lobbies have traditionally been transitional spaces. People check in, get their room key, check out. Maybe they wait to meet a friend or colleague before leaving the lobby to spend their social time elsewhere.
The modern hotel lobby more closely resembles a wine bar or an art gallery (or both), with the goal of attracting guests and locals, convincing them to stay a while. Gone are the days when guests stayed in their rooms alone. They want a communal, functional space where they can be alone or social, depending on mood – a space that feels alive and exciting, with the occasional surprise thrown in (taxidermy on the walls, anyone?).
Hotels have focused on their public spaces because many of them have smaller guest rooms with less furniture. The experience a guest used to have in the room – working, eating, relaxing – is now transitioning to the lobby, which is often equipped with the two modern features no traveler lives without – Wi-Fi and electrical outlets.
Locals will come
Neighborhood residents (or “non-guests”) are a key component of this new lobby experience. Guests want to feel a part of their adopted community and to be surrounded by like-minded people. This is one of the reasons for the recent renaissance of the hotel bar. These venues are now competing for audience directly with area nightclubs, restaurants, and even performance spaces.
The influence of this growing non-guest audience cannot be overstated. In response to their presence, the hotel lobby has changed. It is no longer acceptable for such a space to have a handful of armchairs, and a puny bar tucked into a corner. Flexibility is the new norm, with lobbies now outfitted to fit multiple purposes and crowds. Large blocky furniture has given way to smaller chairs and stools – and the occasional pouf – that can be arranged in multiple ways, sometimes by the guests themselves.
Case in point, New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel lobby boasts original artwork from the likes of Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. A casual visitor to the Nomad Hotel in the Flatiron District will find Kitchen Arts & Letters, a culinary library featuring how-to manuals, best sellers, plus rare and out-of-print volumes. For those who prefer a sports theme, JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live sits next to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and is typically packed after any game or concert. Stick around and mingle with the vibrant, international crowd, particularly if the Lakers, Rams, or Kings are playing.
But this vibe isn’t for everyone. Hotels should be mindful of accommodating all segments of their audience. A family with children attempting to check in shouldn’t have to shout over raucous, inebriated revelers five feet away. It’s a bit of a picture puzzle and may take time to get it right, but careful attention to the balance of amenities, traffic flow, and operating hours will ensure a good experience for all.
People will share it
People like awesome. They share it. Your hotel can be an amazing memory for guests and locals alike. Visual design, color, and attitude are all key ingredients in the sharable stew.
New York’s NoMo SoHo’s lobby soars with greenery around every turn. It begs for Instagram and whisks guests away from city noise. Hotel Indigo in the city’s Lower East Side has a gorgeous view from its 14th-floor sky lobby. If you can draw your eyes away, you’ll see a variety of artwork including a fabulous ceiling mural by neighborhood graffiti artist Lee Quiñones. This custom creation features a map of the Lower East Side with polaroids of the eccentric folks who lived there.
The days of the Holiday Inn slogan, “the best surprise is no surprise” are numbered. Hotels across the globe are finding innovative ways to retain their current clients and attract new ones as they bring their lobbies into the modern era. Be a leader in this movement, and the crowds will follow.
At Beachwood Custom, we are committed to great quality and design in the hospitality industry. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can enhance your design project, contact our team today. We would love the opportunity to walk you through your options.