Experiential Hotel Design

What is Experiential Design?

Experiential design is design that has a voice. With one glimpse, a guest can walk into your hotel and know what elements of design are your focus, where you draw inspiration from, and what the brand represents. Experiential Design is a hospitality design trend that is meant to add to the hotel experience & create a visual narrative for hotel guests that leaves a memorable impression.


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Experiential Design is the way that hotels work to bring their story to life via design. Hotels that have a strong sense of history, whether it is from being in a restoration building or their surrounding city just has a strong sense of pride, it can be brought in with design elements. Examples of strong historic design would be through exposed brick, bringing in furniture that has elements that reflected upon the historic time period of the original building or culture of the city it resides, and focal design points: fireplaces, atriums, and courtyards. For Millennial generations a strong connection with local cultures and locals is important to them while traveling, and through the use of experiential design, the hotel interior design is able to reflect that. Whether it is bringing in local artists and having their art reflected in the rooms or through the cuisine in the restaurants, especially if it is local sourced, or holding events with the local communities can work to make the connection.


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Health is becoming an increasingly important topic around the world. Guests are looking to keep their healthy lifestyle while still on vacation. By using Experiential Design, you can build the idea of health and wellness into your brand by having a luxury hotel design state of the art gym that is open at all hours, and even fitness and meditation classes, for guests seeking a more guided workout. Keeping greenery in and around the hotel also works to bring in a sense of comfort and overall wellness especially if it works to block out any additional city noise or lights.

 When Experiential Design is used correctly it can work to build loyal guests because it creates a sense of connection and connecting with your hotel. Experiential Design brings to life your message, of hospitality and design, and lets guests live that message as their reality during their stay.



Hospitality Inspiration: Beautifully Designed Hotel Spaces Across the Nation

To find a beautiful hotel, or hospitality design inspiration, one doesn’t have to plan a trip to Lake Como, in Italy or Rio De Janeiro, in Brazil. The US is a vast country and each coast and city carries its own spirit and can cater to a different design style. We have gathered a list of inspiring design trends in hospitality with photos that will have you wanderlusting and planning your next vacation. 


EAST Miami Website

Bienvenido a Miami:

When telling someone that you are vacationing in Miami, their mind might go straight to well known hotels such as The Colony Hotel on South Beach. While iconic, this hotel doesn’t represent all of Miami. Miami has evolved a great deal in the past decade. While still a popular vacation destination along the beach, it has begun to extend more into downtown, and the new bombing arts district, Wynwood, and with that, so has the design style. EAST Miami is located in Brickell, which puts it a short driving distance to beaches, shopping, and Wynwood. What EAST Miami does so well, is that it is a modern hotel, and it reinforces that idea with its clean lined décor, white walls, ample space, and floor to celling windows in the rooms that provide you with incredible city and coastal views of all of Miami. While having a modern, luxury, interior design EAST Miami balances it's city feel out with a lot of greenery. The 20,000 square foot pool deck is surrounded with plants and palm trees giving it the illusion that it is tucked away from the city. The element of greenery is tied in with the wooden décor that is carried throughout the rooms, and the bar interior, Domain and Sugar, and restaurant Quinto La Huella. EAST Miami is the perfect combination of clean and modern while still feeling like an illusive relaxing resort.

New York State of Mind: 


The Beekman website

While on paper The Beekman and 11 Howard couldn’t be any more different, they have one key design feature in common: a pop of color. The Beekman carries itself like something out of a Wes Anderson film. When you walk in you’ll find yourself welcomed by a tapestry covered lobby desk and black and white tiled flooring, and all complemented by a Victorian style atrium. There is no denying the history that has been restored in The Beekman. The rooms while simpler and brighter have a quirky feel with pops of yellow and magenta, which pair so well with the pops of hunter green in the lobby and teal bar stools at the bar. 


11 Howard website


11 Howard, located in Soho, has a subtle look while encompassing strong plays of neutrals and mid-century modern furniture. 11 Howard, represents the modern luxury interior design of Soho and stays trend focused. 11 Howard has pops of a saturated, midnight blue color throughout the hotel décor. The deep navy flows through the hotel as a river would from winding sofas, to draping curtains, and navy lighting by the winding staircase.

Don’t Mess With Texas: 


Hotel Saint George website

Hotel Saint George, located in Marfa, Texas, feels as though you are staying in an art gallery. With over 200 pieces of art, most of which created by local artist, scattered all throughout the hotel in the lobby, rooms, and in the infamous Book Co. which often holds lectures and readings. There is no shortage of design inspiration at Hotel Saint George, because if it is not coming from any of the artwork, or the Book Co. than it is sure to be from the Laventure, which describes itself as, “rustic American cuisine…with regional flavors and ingredients.” Hotel Saint George is Marfa. From the art to the food, the design is reflective of its location, and the history of being in the same building as the original Hotel Saint George, from 1886.

Our list of trending hotels with great design, each have a very distinct brand and vision, and a unique overall look. Whether it is a play on its history, inspiration from its current surroundings, or just a bold take on design, all the hotels on this list are unique, and while they may inspire many, there won’t be another quite like them around. 


Hospitality Design Influence on Guest Experience

When walking into a hotel, the very first thing that will catch your eye is the design. As guests enter the lobby of their hotel, they are absorbing the colors textures and shapes within the space. Is the style modern, industrial, traditional or is it eclectic? Perhaps there are colorful tiles with intricate patterns on the stairs, or a beautiful seating arrangement near a water feature that would make for a great photo opportunity before heading out to dinner. Great design in hospitality is meant to draw the guests into the space and create a visual narrative that they can remember long after check-out. Design is important for the owner, the brand, and the guest. With hotel owners prioritizing their guests and guest experience, they are focused more on creating hotels with great interior design. While a beautiful hotel lobby might receive a positive yelp review, a room that is built with the guest in mind, and top notch service will be awarded with a five-star review. There are two main types of hotel guests: families and business travelers, and it is important to keep their guest experience in mind when thinking of design.


PDG Website

PDG Website

Family First:

When a family is traveling together, different members of the family will have different needs. If a family is traveling with a young child, or two, while at check-in, the simple offering to baby proof the room could make all the difference for the parents and children. Offering activities such as movie night for the kids with complimentary popcorn, or babysitting service, so the parents can have a relaxing night out, or even just providing the families with rooms that have more space - after all, four people, and their luggage, crowded into one guest room without the proper floor planning and furniture that offers storage solutions, might feel a bit crammed. By focusing on the family dynamic - hotel suite designs have the opportunity to accommodate the needs of guests and increase the satisfaction of their over all stay.


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Stress Free business:

People who travel for business, especially younger generations, such as millennials, are known to extend their business trips an extra day or two in order to enjoy and explore the destination or city they are visiting has to offer. When traveling for business, it is essential in our hotel room design process to make choices and specifications that help reduce any additional stress that could be avoided for the guest to optimize their social strategy. The best way for hotels to reduce stress is through mobile applications, keyless entry into rooms creating the convenience of having everything important in one place. Hotel room design trends have also began improving design by adding storage for suitcases that way it reduces the stress of unpacking and leaving things behind. With design elements like Apple TV and The Echo, guests have the ability to entertain colleagues if they choose to, or just relax after the day catching up on their favorite TV shows. Hotels are starting to ask us to design their bathrooms with more “spa features,” such as:  bathtubs with jets, vanities, waterfall showers, and even pairing up with high end salons to develop upscale toiletries specific to their brand. 


Even though these demographics are very different and each hotel guest values different experiences, as hotel designers, we can make strategic decisions in our design process to help improve the guests overall experience, no matter what their preferences are. A little goes a long way. An Apple TV with complementary popcorn, can make for a relaxing night in, when a guest is feeling tired or the weather is bad. These small touches can elevate the experience to a five-star quality stay. 

Are Millennials The New Traveler and Are They Shaping the Hospitality Industry?

Are Millennials The New Traveler and are they Shaping the Hospitality Industry?


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The millennial generation, aged 20-36 years old, who as they are getting older, graduating college, beginning their careers, and moving up in the workforce have already begun to have impacts on the economy. However, if trends keep moving the way they are currently, one thing is for sure, travel is of the upmost importance to the millennial generation. Many millennials are even quoted saying they placing saving money to travel over saving money to buy a car, or if they had more money they would spend it on travel. While still a relatively young generation, many are still single and without kids, so their desires and the way they travel is very different from past generations, and that is beginning to have an impact on the hospitality and design industry. 


Rise in Secondary Locations:

With the abundance of social media in their lives, and the ability to share all of their experiences and information with their friends. Millennials are always looking for new adventures that way, their social media image doesn’t become a cookie cutter replica of everyone else’s posts. The hospitality and travel industry are noticing the spike in travel preferences for secondary cities that have less normative tourist experiences. Hotels have been looking to secondary cities such as Washington DC, Rameswaram, and The Azores to give millennial travelers a unique travel destination that is more grounded in local culture than focused on tourist. Much of the rise of secondary cities also comes from companies like Airbnb, which gave millennials the opportunity to travel anywhere, and rent a room. The appeal that the secondary cities have for millennials comes from their desire to understand the culture, taste local cuisine, and even befriend a local or two, to really get immersed in the cities.



Innovative Amenities:

Millennials want opportunities to explore the cultures best and while many of them have been turning to active lifestyles the hospitality and design industry has taken notice. In an effort to attract more millennial guests’ hotels have been partnering up with local chefs to alternative and cook in the hotel restaurant, some have gone even as far as to hold farmer’s markets in a way to let guests purchase local produce or other souvenirs. Some hotels have found that something as simple as offering vegan and local treats in the mini bar is what millennials are looking for and appreciate. While millennials love adventurous activities they often don’t travel with gear, so hotels have begun to rent hiking and mountain biking gear, while partnering with local tour guides to give millennials views and adventures that are individualistic based on skill and time of day.


When traveling millennials are looking to make a more personal connection with their destination. Rather than it just be white sheets and guided tours, the millennial traveler is looking to learn and experience the culture in a way that feels like they got their money’s worth and photos to prove it.


The Evolution of the Hotel Lobby


One of my favorite projects was working on The Roosevelt, Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New Orleans. I loved peeling back damp, dank lobby carpet to see the gorgeous floors that lay hidden underneath. One of my favorite things to do, as a hotel designer, is to learn about the history of the hotel and how it’s design changed over time as it’s function simultaneously shifted. One space that has seen a lot of change in the last century is the hotel lobby.

In the 15th century, aristocrats built extravagant houses in the city centers for other aristocrats to stay in. Then, hotels started to become more popular. Aided by industrialization, hotels became a place of travel for the wealthy elite. Hotel lobbies were elegant and extravagant but not much more than a means to an end--a large foyer decorated with lavish furniture and fixtures, just a space to pass through.



Today, lobbies serve a much more useful purpose. They are a place to relax, socialize, work, read or hold informal meetings. Hotel designers know that the lobby will keep a variety of groups and events, and they try to make the space versatile and multifunctional. We have changed the perspective that hotels are only a place to check in and out. The rise of competition and social nature of guests demand so much more.

Picturing a lobby as an open and welcoming, functional space is not as hard. First, minimize the architectural limits within the area and separating the purposes of the room. Then, determine how to make the lobby with technological updates. Add furniture conducive to collaboration that is easily reconfigured. Consider where you might have space to host events. Lastly, create an area to check in and access direct customer service. This might be a person, or a kiosk with technology.



We see a perfect example of the transformation of the lobby in the changes to the business center. Traditionally, “technology lounges” served both as rigid business areas. These spaces were hidden behind doors for guests with special access, and they incorporated big standard tables isolated for meetings and a small room for internet and printing.

Today, clusters of furniture sit openly in the lobby close to plenty of power sources. All guests have access to a wireless printer from anywhere. Lastly, Wi-Fi throughout the entire hotel replaces any functional need for a specific business center. The less restrictive purpose of the “business center” means it's now a socially buzzing zone for anyone.



Many hotels are taking the open-concept a bit further by opening up the space to include a cafe, happy hour lounge, a gallery and sometimes even a restaurant. Structuring and designing the space for optimum functionality can be tricky. You have to strike the right balance between public social areas and nooks to get away and relax. However, when done correctly, guests feel like a community rather than a group of strangers staying in the same hotel:

●      The Ann Arbor Sheraton utilizes the “Living room strategy” with music, art, pillows, and rugs to replicate the social spaces of a house. Guests move freely in and out of the lobby with flexibility and full functionality.

●      In the Houston Doubletree, the“Great room concept” which removes architectural barriers through a division into four areas: a welcome zone, the bar, a relaxing work zone and a social business area. Through this distribution, we personalize the guest’s involvement in public-private spaces. We also take advantage of big glass walls, natural light, and the natural surroundings to deliver a distinctive atmosphere.

Recognizing that lobbies are no longer just a pass-through area is the first step to modernize any hotel. Then, hotel designers and owners should strive to understand the needs of the hotel’s particular guests through each of their roles in daily life. Just like a businessman does not stop being a dad when he goes to work, he should not have to isolate himself from a social environment for access to essential technology.

If you are thinking about updating your lobby, we would love to know more about you and your guests. Before we begin any redesign, we always take the time to become experts in your target audience and regional influences to ensure the spaces we build together make sense for every aspect of their lives. Everything we do for you, we do for your guests.

For more contemporary hotel lobby ideas, visit our profile. If you have any questions, shoot us an email.

Plant Trends in Hospitality


Plants are our newest design muse. When we talk about green designs, of course, we are talking about a level of environmental friendliness, but we are also talking about rekindling a connection with mother nature. Plants are not just objects to look at - guests and employees physically feel better with access to nature, even if just via an indoor plant nestled in a cafe. They feel more relaxed and calm. That is why we always encourage our clients to bring botanicals into their hotel designs. Every hotel needs the freshness and life that plants bring to the ambiance.

Indoor Plants

Using indoor plants is a subtle way to bring the outside world in. I’ve seen hotels that create elaborate indoor gardens, and hotels that simply place palms of grasses in a pot by the door. No matter how small the effort, every indoor plant always make a huge impact.

When choosing your indoor plants, decide the atmosphere you want to create. The plants you use in a spa-like setting are vastly different from a professional work space. Then, you will want to consider the maintenance and location requirements of each breed and variety. For example, Dumbe Cane is a popular leafy green plant that does not need direct sun. However, Moth Orchid has beautiful butterfly shaped flowers, but need careful care and plenty of bright light.


Amazing Gardens

For me, hospitality goes beyond infrastructure. Indoor and outdoor spaces should be balanced. I am always so impressed when hotels pay as much attention to their landscape design as their interior design. The size and shape of the garden do not matter as much as the designer’s creativity. One should aim to create a space where guests come to relax and read a book...a place they do not want to leave.

When designing your garden, have fun with it! Include trees, rock formations, sculptures and benches. Create a unique path from recycled bricks or tiles from your building, or add a koi pond. Your guests will appreciate having a space set aside for them to “stop and smell the roses.”

Green Walls and Vertical Gardens

A vertical garden could also be considered if there is minimal space. Green walls are particularly breathtaking. There is something very visceral about walking into a hotel and seeing a whole wall full of vibrant, earthy plants. But your wall is not only beautiful, but it also serves to make the building more energy efficient by creating a layer of insulation, more relaxing by providing a sound barrier, and cleaner by filtering any toxins in the air.

Green walls can be costly to build, but they are easy and inexpensive to maintain. They often use recycled gray water from the hotel and are set up to automatic watering. When you consider how this asset can set your hotel apart from the competition, they pay for themselves very quickly.

Vicinity to plant life is not only beautiful. The closeness to nature is important to the psyche of both our guests and employees. They give our guests a reason to relax while offering employees a more comfortable working environment. Studies have even suggested that a connection to nature in the workplace reduces absences while increasing productivity. When did hotels get so confined by their brick and mortar that we forgot to make space for mother nature?


Rustic Luxury Trends For Hotels



Creating a space with a rustic style can have a more modern result than you might think. That’s because today’s “rustic” is far more unique than before. With the busy-body lifestyle and uninterrupted technology, old school rustic just does not cut it. Today, you might recognize the look as having an overall country feel but with the comfort and influence of a city. Hotels should incorporate a playful décor with a flawless design that makes “natural” seem effortless.

One thing has not changed. Traditional elements in rustic design remain strong: exposed bricks, concrete stone walls or floors and rustic finishes in wood. The eye catching architecture and decor centerpieces are made only with material that have been around since before the turn of the century.




The best part of this look is the mixing and matching of colors and textures. In a room or a lobby this may look like a combination of different types of wood against a stone fireplace. In another case, exposed stone walls with natural clay tiles and window frames, would achieve the same rustic feel. What brings everything together is the neutral color palette of high-quality earthy materials.

In general, the rustic look fills the room with more decor and furniture than other design styles. Rustic design has a homey, “lived in” appeal, so the furniture is often bigger and heavier, and shelves are adorned with eclectic items that portray a life of experience, culture, and travel.

While it does not work for every hotel, rustic may also include the everlasting use of faux fur or hide rugs. This is especially a great option for a boutique hotel focused on creating a lodge or cabin feel. Fur or hide distinguishes the room design, especially with the variety of textures it can provide. The advantage comes from their versatility; they are functional and elegant, without necessarily being ostentatious. It always delivers its extravagant cozy feel. Nevertheless, larger hotels might best stick to faux furs for the same effect without so much controversy.

A relatively newer trend in the rustic approach is the use of warmer metals. Formerly, we saw a lot of cast iron, tin, and raw steel. However, a more modern mix of metals, copper and bronze, are becoming more popular and have become the new standard for luxury. They create a warmer, more modern ambiance.

The final touch to the rustic design approach blends the indoor with the outdoor and helps create a striking panoramic view. Take advantage of balconies in the guest rooms or wide windows that provide natural light. Multi-level terraces and walled gardens create an authentic and peaceful environment in a more public space. Using the environment around you in the design is the one piece that brings it all together.

Extravagant materials are not the hot trend right now. Guests want simple and clean, a rustic getaway. Rustic is all about delivering a sensory experience, combining a lot of rich colors and textures, and showing the best of nature. If you have a breathtaking view you want to showcase in your design, or are looking to transport guests to a time before social media and avocado toast, give us a call and let’s talk about whether a rustic look is good for your hotel.



As an industry fueled by service, hotels are entirely influenced by the guests they serve. This means that they cannot escape current trends. When customers experience a shift in needs or interests, the hotel must act fast to meet with those patterns. The latest trends in hotel design show not only an adaptation of a lifestyle but the habits of today's travelers.

When designing hotels, I try to see these trends for what they are and separate ideas that will continue to progress from fads that will fade away in 6 months. With years of experience, I have become very good at it! Today, I want to share with you hotel design trends that seem to be sticking around for a while.

Social Oriented Spaces

I have noticed that many hotels tend to make spaces that are easily reconfigured for any occasion: events, celebrations, and special meetings. Similarly, the lobby serves as a meeting space for a cocktail hour or morning tea.

Hotels have increased their interest in making their spaces part of the hosting experience. Through small details and accessories, the common areas in hotels are increasingly multi purpose and currently seek to encourage communication and guest interactions.  The hotels understand the importance of creating experiences and environments that contribute value to the guests’ lives.

Bold Color Choices

Hotels have begun to incorporate dual-tone palettes and move away from monochromatic designs. Metallic tones are seeding in to contrast light colored woods for what I predict to be a lovely, fleeting trend in hotel design. However, the overall incorporation of various complementary shades and contrasting textures seems to be here to stay.

We’ve been impressed with many of the bold choices: Rich turquoise hues against a yellow-gold. Bright lime against a regal emerald. Light lavenders against an easter-egg green. A Warm olive against a coffee brown. Hotels are taking more risks with colors, but with great results. The shots of color bring a lot of energy to the rooms and add character.

Sustainability Matters

Lately, hotels are going the extra mile to leave a smaller ecological footprint. They're adding solar power, geothermal and biomass heating, building green walls, and installing water-saving toilets. Perhaps one of our favorite “green” techniques is using reclaimed and recycled materials.

In our process, we work hard to make sure the design fits your vision and budget, and it is as eco-friendly as possible. We encourage our clients to make informed decisions about their products by purchasing from distributors and manufacturers with sustainable practices. We also only buy products with a trustworthy ingredients list; you should know what chemicals you are putting in your hotel and how it will affect the environment when you are ready to get rid of it. If it is not sustainable and durable, we do not buy it!

Local Flair

Each design is made to tell a story. Hotel guests do not like to feel like they're staying in a generic chain. Another wonderful trend is to use the design to create an interest in the history of the building, the city, or the regional area. Throughout the design, hotels incorporate an identity into their aesthetic and make the stay a unique experience.

We can see small details that reflect the location of the hotel--accessories steeped with culture and history. The local plants, internal architecture, and stunning views are also ways to localize the design and differentiate the hotel from others. They allow us to include the storytelling inside the process of designing, making it a lot more exciting and unique.

My talent for spotting trends is one skill, but it is nothing compared to our knowledge and experience-back process to guide you from consultation and development to procurement and management. To learn more about how we help you tell your story, we invite you to read our process.  Together with careful planning, we can create a design inspired by today’s travelers.



When thinking of “the best” of hotel interior design, there are many factors to consider. We take great efforts to pull standards from the people that matter most: your customers, your employees, and your contractors. Creating the best design for your hotel means considering each of their needs individually, so all of your stakeholders walk away with a positive experience.



Hotel bars are a vital part of the experience at a luxury hotel destination. It is a common area where guests can meet to enjoy a few cocktails, relax and enjoy the company of others after a tiring day. I find that it is important to provide your guests with a bar experience unlike any other, and those design factors should be fluid and constantly changing. From aesthetic to functionality, the hotel bar design must leave the guest in awe, longing for their next visit.



The Texas summer season is winding down, and customers are looking for exciting last-minute destinations before the kids return to school. Many guests turn to Google and booking websites for hotel suggestions. The word “hotel" has become an incredibly broad concept encompassing a wide spectrum of hospitality establishments. In the industry, we use better classifiers, but do not assume guests know the difference. When searching for accommodations, our clients often come across terminology that alludes them.



Contemporary travelers expect a luxury hotel destination to provide an experience they cannot find anywhere else. In the past, luxury hotels more easily provided accommodations superior to those a guest would experience in their homes. With today’s modern technological advancements, the average household has—in many senses—caught up to the hospitality industry. We struggle to keep up with the constantly fluctuating tastes and desires of the 2017 millennial consumer.