Design Hotels: The Next Generation

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Compared to the past, today’s travelers expect more from their hotels than ever before. Luxury accommodations, world-renowned spas, and a 24-hour concierge once set a resort apart from the rest, but now hotels have evolved to cater to a different component of the tourist trade — we’re looking at you, Millennials. Count luxury travel among the many things that the maturing millennial population has changed for the better. From weekend staycations to summers spent abroad, contemporary travelers seek unique experiences that transcend the traditional idea of what a hotel — or a vacation, for that matter — should offer.

This new set of expectations has led to the rise of the aptly named Design Hotel. As the name implies, Design Hotels have set the bar higher when it comes to architecture, interior décor, style aesthetics and overall expression. From luxury B&B’s to riverside glamping, modern, lifestyle-focused getaways give all travelers, millennial or otherwise, the option to immerse themselves in a new experience — if only for a short time. Join us as we take a look at how these hotels have emerged to suit the modern traveler. Take a peek at what some of our favorites have to offer, and find our recommendations for the best way to go about booking your next adventure.

The Creative Class

Lobby of a modern hotel, with plank ceilings, dark hardwood floors and carpetsDistinct from their time-tested counterparts, Design Hotels tap into the needs and desires of a new creative class. They hope to appeal to savvy adults who appreciate culture, the arts, and thoughtful design as well as exceptionally high standards of service. Travelers today seek more communal experiences and increased customization in all aspects of their journey. They shy away from anything too commercial while blurring the line between native and tourist.

With social media now fully integrated into the fabric of our lives, appearance and curated experiences are more valuable than ever. These factors, along with the changing face of the travel industry, have given rise to an entirely new target market. Design hotels are hip, fresh and trending — not to mention, the embodiment of everyday cool. Often minimalist, cutting-edge, and carefully designed, these Design or Lifestyle Hotels hope to win over visitors with their ability to evoke an awe-inspiring response. To do this, they rely on visual concepts, notable architects, as well as home and fashion designers to shape, influence and create incredible interior and exterior constructs.

Take for example Jonathan Adler’s glam renovation of the California mid-century desert hotel, the Parker Palm Springs. Recently, this 1950’s era hideaway was given a lifestyle facelift to transform its outdated facilities into the very epitome of glam. From revitalized, checkerboard floors to hand-stitched, needlepoint cushions in the Gene Autry Residence (a two-bedroom villa once home to the iconic country singer), Jonathan Adler’s playful aesthetic is evident throughout. Guests flock to the hotel for excellent service, perfect style and the opportunity to see and be seen – not to mention, to capture the perfect setting for their Instagram photos. Finally, if the rooms don’t make enough of an impact, the 900-lb, seven-foot-tall banana sculpture on the front lawn just might. While bringing in a notable designer to add that certain special something to your space might be the start, lifestyle hotels take it even further. Enter: the Age of Experience.

The Sky’s The Limit

With the rise of the sharing culture and the re-prioritization of experiences over possessions, travelers are increasingly interested in building great memories rather than getting bogged down by corporate clutter. Design hotels seek to fill this niche. Instead of focusing on large-scale event spaces, hundreds of rooms and commercialized restaurants, these lifestyle brands have turned the industry on its head by thinking small. Intimacy is a new luxury. Rather than going big, these new Design Hotels offer guests cozy but lux accommodations that focus on quality and comfort without skimping on good taste. They’ve found unique ways to integrate with the local communities, partnering with local brands and purveyors of goods to make each location one-of-a-kind.

White Oak floors in the Park Hyatt Hotel & Restaurant, Washington, DC

From the Hyatt’s Centric in San Francisco, that draws on a nautical theme and houses the Brick & Beam Pub, an eatery dedicated to serving the best local and sustainable seafood, to Los Angeles’ Dream Hollywood Hotel, where guests are encouraged to enjoy regionally inspired favorites and embrace a sense of play, the lifestyle trend has gained enough steam for even the largest hotel chains to take notice. For example, the Marriott has expanded its offerings to include immersive programs that pair guests with celebrities, mentors and self-improvement gurus to make their stay even more memorable. Instead of the same old loyalty programs, guests can sign up for master classes with chefs or golf pros and enjoy transformative experiences unavailable anywhere else. But with all this at your fingertips, how do you choose?

Selective Hoteling

Once you have a destination in mind, the best way to pick a perfect boutique vacation is to decide what you want to experience. Do you want to soak up the local food scene? Grab a guide and head off into the hills for a photography excursion? Or lounge by the pool as you sip your way through a cocktail class led by a local mixologist? The goal is to pair travelers with their perfect experiences.

Begin your journey by researching curated lists of the world’s best boutique hotels, as many stress value and quality and include hotels that are unique to specific areas. From Malaysia to Montenegro, Argentina to Morocco, online sites can guide you through a range of well-vetted villas, guesthouses, hotels, and B&B’s that fit your personal lifestyle brand. From a former oil-rig-turned-diving-platform (Seaventures Hotel in Malaysia) to the Sanya Nanshan Treehouse Resort in China, there’s something for everyone.

There are also members-only websites that match travelers with hotels for chic experiences. These sites are dedicated to uncovering exceptional hotels around the world, one location at a time. Many represent a carefully selected portfolio of properties for the most discerning travelers. From intimate B&B’s to stylish boutique hotels and design-led accommodations, these properties offer a generous dose of charm as well as meticulous attention to the smaller details.

Finally, there are online sites that offer packages for honeymooners or families alike, with charming selections of properties that are sure to please. Simply search Design Hotel packages.

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In the end, no matter which hotel, location or travel destination you select, choose experience above all else. The Design Hotel brand is here to stay and good design reigns supreme. The next time you’re on the hunt for a great getaway experience, start with search term Design Hotels. There’s a whole world of new adventures right at your fingertips.
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