Meeting Expectations: Guest Experience and Lobby Design

Hotel lobby front desk

Lack-luster lobbies with out-of-date designs can change guests’ perceptions on an entire property. Design trends are evolving as the new decade begins, and Jessica Hayley, interior designer for RODE Architects, says, “It’s about creating an experience for the guest. There needs to be a familiarity for travelers. As trends change, people have constantly changing and different expectations of what they want from a hotel. It’s important that hotels stay on-top of their guests’ expectations.”

Integrating technology and digital amenities in lobbies shows guests that hotels are open to modernization. Using online check-in, digital concierges, high-tech meeting spaces, and innovative materials are some technological trends that Hayley sees staying prominent in the industry, as well as moving toward removing front desks. She adds, “We’re looking at that from a sustainable point-of-view. Technology is giving us an opportunity to use sustainable materials to produce amenities like keyless entry.”

Blurring the lines between homes and hotels is another trend Hayley expects to remain popular. She says, “New lobbies feel authentic and homey, using soft-tech styles and having more eclectic elements. The days of matching and modern are in the past. Now, people want locally-sourced décor and very casual aesthetics, but with the high-end experiential offering for food and beverage, wellness, and other amenities.”

Within RODE’s latest hotel project—the Cambria Boston—Hayley said trends have an emphasis on handmade and local personal touches, giving guests an experience rather than a stay, which she cites as a trend. “It’s about making an impact in the lobby because that’s what people remember.” she says.


But when new trends appear, older trends fade out. For trends that are leaving, Jessica adds, “From a materials point-of-view, for a while, the trend was jewel tones, velvets, and traditional glam. It’s a little overdone. Feeling like you’re walking into a very luxurious environment is starting to become a thing of the past. Now, it’s all about the casual, comfortable, homelike vibe.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of LODGING.

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Robin McLaughlin is digital editor of LODGING.