A hotel room used to be a place to rest your head – a place where a luxury light fitting, executive desk or a marble bathroom was appreciated.

Today, the traditional bed and desk combination is no longer cutting it with guests looking for increased amenities.

Everything from location to technology to hotel amenities remain key purchase drivers. One of the fastest growing markets is for apartment-style accommodation.

Hotel apartment rooms are on the rise, with guests seeking kitchenettes for cooking local produce, furniture that can be reconfigured and abundant technology points.

Even urban developers are responding to the trend, with many buildings having residential and hotel spaces. According to the CTBUH, 27 of the 50 tallest skyscrapers under construction are mixed use with a hotel component.

The other driver in the trend toward apartment-style hotel rooms is the intensifying competition from accommodation sharing site Airbnb. According to Statista, the organisation was valued at $US10 billion dollars in April 2014.

The New York Times recently reported on a shift in focus in hotel room work spaces, in which “boxy desks with drawers are being replaced with more minimalist, flexible tables that can serve a multitude of purposes…”

With so many people no longer tied to physical offices, technology and a place to work is now a priority to many travellers.

“One of our early hypotheses was that the traditional desk is going away,” Jennifer Gribble, vice president for the Americas of the Holiday Inn Express brand at the InterContinental Hotels Group told the Times.

The Holiday Inn Express chain has replaced the usual desk with a wall-mounted shelf at desk height along with a mobile desk that can be moved about the room including bedside for laptops and other devices.

“There’s a number of travelers who still want a desk,” Gribble said. “We’ve evolved it and made it more sleek and modern.”

Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ Westin Brand has opted for giving guests control over furniture reconfiguration in what they call a “blended space” concept which includes, a smaller desk, a sofa with an ottoman and a movable side table so travellers have more options.

Zoku, a new hotel in Amsterdam, is offering a full loft, which is described as a “home office hybrid for global nomads.”

“Zoku offers a home base with both a smart Zoku Loft (private areas) and social spaces (communal areas) to work, sleep, play and live in,” according to the organisation.

The new concept has been well received and is also a finalist for the Radical Innovation in Hospitality incubator, an annual event founded by John Hardy that seeks new ideas to revolutionise the guest experience and hotel design.

Serviced Apartment News (SAN) reported on the recent Stratospheric Rise of Hospitality Alternatives breakout panel in Berlin with Max Thorne, CEO of Beyonder Group stating that consumers are driving this change.

“Consumers are very smart,” Thorne told SAN. “They value flexibility that the aparthotel and serviced apartment verticals offer, we’re expanding those at Beyonder.”

Design-wise, location is the muse. Many hotels are moving away from the “brand” identity to see spaces reflect their surrounding environment.

This is part of the reason Airbnb is so popular. Staying in someone’s home sees guests feel more immersed in the location and culture.

To maximise guest comfort, furniture should be reconfigurable, from tables guests can work or dine at to decor pieces such as ottomans and stools that can move about and function as seats or footrests. Guests should be able to personalise their space, store their purchases, cook their own food and work if required.

Being able to move furniture about offers guests a little decorating freedom as well, so their hotel room can feel a little more personalised and truly be a home away from home.

  • Great article, it's about the customer and their changing needs. many transferable lessons here for residential design.

    • Thank you David – I do agree with you that the residential space could certainly lean on some of the ideas particularly as our dwellings get smaller.

  • A great local example of this trend is Hotel Hotel in Canberrra which is a hotel that also manages apartments from small to several bedrooms and bathrooms, with a kitchen or kitchenette. Being part of the NewActon Nishi building, it ensures guests experience a stay in an 8-star NaTHERS building, Canberra's most sustainable mixed use building complex. Double glazing in openable windows mean guests can set their own indoor climate without compulsory central air conditioning. Hotel Hotel received many awards for itself as well as for individual suppliers who were part of the build like Paarhammer Windows. Visit and Australian icon and be right on trend.

  • Great Article Angela , A few lessons for the whole building construction industry.The multi functional idea can lead to more compact design & still keep our creature comforts . Regards

    • Thank you David. I think the considered design of these spaces will continue to engage guests. Hope it does prompt some ideas for the construction industry as you've suggested.

  • As a person who travels extensively, I would definitely opt for this new type of hotel room vs an Airbnb. Just do not feel comfortable in using an Air bnb apartment. Also, it would have been nice to know where the above picture is taken from. Based on what is said about "Zoku" it could possibly be one of their properties, but one does not like to assume!!