We explore the hospitality design trends from near and far that are changing the way we travel
explores hospitality design trends from near and far that are changing the way we travel.
Travelling: it’s the best way to connect with yourself and the rest of the world. And for architects and designers, it’s always been a vehicle for asking what it means to be hospitable. So, we’ve looked to top local and global industry experts to identify the top trends.
Dubai-based designer and hospitality expert Omar Nakkash says that high-tech innovations and a preference for local experiences are leading the latest developments.
“A new digital wave and an emphasis on local experiences are taking over the hotel industry,” says Nakkash. “Smart rooms are bringing the concept of personalisation to a level that was unthinkable just five years ago, from features like streamed in-room entertainment and smartphone apps controlling electrical devices, to voice-activated technology.”
He also emphasises a focus on culture. “Local experiences have also been a top priority. Airbnb’s disruption of the industry has inspired traditional hotel companies to appeal to a growing population of travellers who want to experience destinations like a local would, from being offered local produce in their rooms and on the restaurant menu, to curated local experiences. Nowadays, the industry is focusing more on authentic rather than insignificant ‘ tourist’ experiences,” he continues.
The top ten trends include experiencing authentic local culture via local services, fair services (an authentic exchange between travellers and the local population), hi-tech options for saving time and money, brand loyalty via provenance, intuitive dining, spiritual getaways, digital detox, environmental awareness and personalised luxury – and, of course, Instagram-friendly spaces.
According to the AccorHotels Group’s 2018 trend report, travellers are looking to be inspired by the desire for unique and unforgettable experiences.
Leading the way are two new local gems: Al Seef, in the new tourist district in Dubai; and Zabeel House – the location for the 2018 id Design Awards.
Al Seef by Jumeriah can be found amidst the rooftops and courtyards of a souk located in Al Seef – a new district of restaurants, cafés, shops and plazas situated on a two-kilometre promenade on the south bank of Dubai Creek.
The 200-room hotel is spread across 22 traditionally designed Arabian bayt (homes) and organised in small clusters of two to three buildings, joined by a bridge that provides a walkway above the souk and sharing a common courtyard.
In the same area is the regional favourite: Zabeel House. Designed by Studio HBA (Hirsch Bedner Associates) and with architecture by Atkins, its fusion of contemporary design, art and local charm and loft-style vibe make it a five-star stay at a three-star price.
“Nowadays art has taken a place in hotel interiors it did not have previously. As opposed to [the approach of] hanging commercial art on a wall because it feels empty without it, art is now a part of the overall concept and integrated,” says David T’Kint, Design Director and Partner at HBA Dubai.
Informal yet remarkably inviting, Zabeel House offers 200 rooms in three different sizes for solo travellers, couples or families, as well as an ideal business location with ample creative spaces to work from and five meeting rooms.
“One of the [key] facets of Dubai is the authentic sense of entertainment in an environment of new experiences. Zabeel House embraces this fresh, unexpected take on the hotel experience with a new offering; a collection of ‘ Instagrammable’ areas,” he continues.
These top Instagrammable spaces include: the vast open-plan lobby that features a group of human sculptures raising their hats to you as you enter the hotel; the abstract art display called the ‘cityscape’ which portrays Dubai’s transformation; and the stereos that adorn the reception desk and the spa.
To keep guests on their toes, rooms feature fun design additions, including an astronaut holding tightly on to a moon-shaped lamp, a word-search above your bed (clue: some of them glow in the dark to make it easier to solve) and organic liquid amenities by OSMA, wrapped in certified eco-friendly and biodegradable packaging. And only filtered tap water is available – no plastic bottles are allowed.
Zabeel House MINI,
its sister property next door, features high-tech helpers and local services, such as self-check-in (although there’s also a staffed check-in desk). And instead of a bell-boy welcoming you in the lobby, a large artwork on the ceiling spells out ‘You are welcome’ in Arabic.
Other sweet amenities include an amazing roaming barista serving a special Boon Coffee blend; and a pop-art map of Dubai on the ceiling plus a mural in every room that says ‘Dubai is Always a Good Idea’ – the perfect start for your Instagram stories.
Al Seef by Jumeirah, welcome area
Zabeel House, lobby
Zabeel House Mini, Pocket Room