Defining the 2019 Hotel Lobby

The 2019 hotel lobby will be a lively hub for gathering, dining, and recreation.

Detroit Foundation Hotel (Courtesy of Simeone Deary Design Group)
Detroit Foundation Hotel (Courtesy of Simeone Deary Design Group)

In today’s experience-driven world, one size no longer fits all. Guests want hotels to pay close attention to their individual needs and desires. To create a truly customized stay, hoteliers must first consider what a hotel isn’t: A hotel isn’t simply a resting place where tourists leave their bags before a day of sightseeing. Instead, a hotel is a place of work, play, community, and refuge, and its design and accommodations should reflect this.

Hoteliers should think of their guests not just as “patrons,” but as travelers, connoisseurs, business people, families, couples, and—above all—human beings. Beyond traditional amenities, visitors checking into a hotel in 2019 will be looking for distinctive touches, such as spas, salons, areas to lounge, art on the walls, vintage and designer furniture, and seamless access to the outdoors.

Distinctive touches will also include uniting elements of local cultures and communities with the hotel design and overall feel of a stay. Guests crave the reliable narrative of hyper-locality, and hoteliers should anticipate tailoring menus with locally sourced ingredients, collaborating with local businesses to create distinct toiletries, scents, and tastes, and creating opportunities for local talent to shine, like in the Pfister Hotel’s Artist in Residence program.

When embracing their community, hoteliers must remember that hotels are unique gathering places. In addition to the design and features of guestrooms, hoteliers should now consider the common spaces of a hotel—in particular, the oft-overlooked lobby—as important areas where design, accommodations, and local culture can meet.

Detroit Foundation Hotel (Courtesy of Simeone Deary Design Group)
Detroit Foundation Hotel (Courtesy of Simeone Deary Design Group)

The 2019 hotel lobby will be a lively hub for gathering, dining, and recreation—much more than a place to check in and out. The grand lobby of the IIDA award-winning Detroit Foundation Hotel, for example, is fully decked out with an inviting open-kitchen restaurant, expansive lounge area, and plush furnishings that entice both guests and non-guests to grab a drink and stay a while.

In both common areas and private rooms, seamlessly integrating technology into the design is another way to ensure comfort and access for everyone in the hotel. The future of hotel smart room technology will surpass interactive minibars and online reservations.

From 2019 onward, hotels will start including features like voice- or app-controlled temperature and lighting in rooms or virtual assistants for room service. A smart hotel doesn’t just make sense in our modern world, it also allows guests to fully integrate their personal preferences into the stay. Dynamic use of technology can also assist hoteliers in creating an eco-friendly and biophilic environment. Automated bi-folding doors and hanging gardens help bring the outdoors in, while LED lighting, solar panels, and bioclimatic walls reduce energy consumption.

Our fast-paced, social media-savvy world requires that all facets of the hospitality industry carefully re-evaluate their relevance and position in the lives of contemporary customers and guests, and hotels are no exception. In creating more personalized, worthwhile, and mix-and-match experiences, and by truly enriching the way guests eat, how they sleep, where they relax, and how they congregate, hotels are leveraging the components of their brand to create lasting impressions that start before a guest checks in and continue long after they check out.

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Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, is the executive vice president and CEO of IIDA. She is committed to achieving broad recognition for the value of design and its significant role in our society.


  1. […] * Speaking of good news and bad news, there’s a bit of both over at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. In order to convert it to a Virgin Hotel, there will be four month of renovations while the casino remains open (good news, if you don’t mind picking your way through the debris). For the four-month balance of the makeover, the property will be closed. We don’t know who finished the plans are, but Richard Branson has a chance to redo the property’s generic lobby into something remarkable. […]

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