Trends in hotel design

29 March 2016

Good design is a great differentiator – my job depends on it as no one wants to read about bad design. In an increasingly design-conscious world, design is becoming more of a given and yet also more of a differentiator. When all other things are equal the aesthetics of a hotel help swing a booking decision. Here are a couple of key trends in hotel design.


More and more I hear from owners, designers and guests that they are looking for an experience. A memory. They want anything but the cookie-cutter hotel of yesteryear. Ideally their hotel has a narrative that helps to create that different experience. Generally this comes from a layered approach to developing a story that slowly reveals itself as more details become apparent.

Personalisation requires creativity and creativity thrives on choice.

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Take any of the 25Hours Hotels across Europe that each have their own multi-layered narrative based on diverse elements and surprises from their own neighbourhood. Their catch phrase “You know one, you know none” speaks volumes of the variety of this creative process.

The story is often told through the use of materials that inspire a particular sense of style and comfort. Wooden hotel flooring is one of those almost unnoticed elements of a space. You walk right over it. Nevertheless it can have a significant impact on the guest experience.

The sensations from walking barefoot across a hotel room feed very directly into the overall sense of discovery. The seemingly imperfect Genuine ™ sawcut texture of a Pergo oak plank floor delivers a noticeably realistic haptic sensation. Similarly walking over the dark, rustic Smoked Mansion oak boards with their pronounced filled knots and cracks creates a memory.

Guests may or may not pick up on the deep-brushed surface and elegant oil finish or the extra wide planks the first time they stay. But this subliminal experience of quality adds a layer to the narrative of the whole design. It is almost better that these layers only reveal themselves slowly as they create a developing experience that will appeal to repeat guests. And repeat guests are the Holy Grail for hoteliers.


I have attended in recent years several workshops looking at the future of hotel design. There have been strong discussions around the idea of personalisation.

The end game would be to allow each guest to create, or at least be able to adjust, all aspects of their hotel environment. This would mean going way beyond today’s commonplace control of temperature, ambient lighting and music. Technologies already exist that allow a room to ‘sense’ the mood of its guest and accordingly alter other things such as the colour of the walls and the scent of a room. Sadly these are not yet available at the right price point for use in hotels.

Nevertheless the need to personalise demands that the interior designer tap into the variety of finishes and products that will allow the creation of a bespoke and therefore differentiated environment.

The most obvious diversifier is colour and flooring is a large element of the colour palette. Pergo offers a huge variety of wood decors. From pale urban light oak with its very subtle variations in colour and minimal knots, to the richness of a warm walnut finish where the strong grain and knots add depth. Layout and other features also create different atmospheres.

The 3-strip block designs found in the Åland collection give an element of detail that creates the illusion of a larger, more open space. A small bevel alongside the long edge of a board adds a textural contrast and structure.

On top of this, literally, are the variety of finishes that can be applied to almost every Pergo floor product – matt, silk, stain lacquer, polished, oiled, etc. With such variety every project can be personalized and the same product need never be specified twice. Personalisation requires creativity and creativity thrives on choice.

Guy Dittrich – Freelance Writer & Moderator
A long-term contributor to Sleeper magazine, Guy also regularly writes on hotels and design for Wallpaper*, Condé Nast Traveller and a variety of trade publications.

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