Hotels connected to their surroundings

We need to diversify the business, creating spaces with hybrid and changing places.

Hotels are no longer a space just for tourists or travelling businessmen, instead they are becoming a hub of active participation for its city. Their function is being overhauled, spurred on one hand by the need to diversify and develop strategies to reinforce the business as a result of the damage caused by the pandemic. On the other hand, hotels are undergoing a change which seeks to create hybrid and changeable spaces, assigning them with a new role.

Drivers del cambio

Tourism came to a halt suddenly in March 2020. This stoppage has had far-reaching and structural consequences on the current situation of hotels. The first is that consumers are challenging the norms for travel. 67% state that they will travel by car, with this mode of transport far outperforming others, while 72% say that it is unlikely that they will fly abroad, even though restrictions are being lifted (Source: Kantar COVID-19 Barometer, August 2020). This is not only due to the health crisis, but also to an environmental awareness which already saw travellers pondering over the ramifications of long-haul flights on our surroundings and the impact on the local economy of their destination. 


During the pandemic, the importance of the local area has skyrocketed, too, across all levels of consumers. In the world of tourism, this has meant an increase in local tourism as opposed to international. As a result, 58% of travellers would select a domestic destination for their next trip. And when we take a look at Spain, this numbers shoots to 68% (Source: The future of travel & tourism in the wake of covid-19. World Travel & Tourism Council, Sep 2020). This phenomenon has benefited directly from the closure of borders, although it has gained ground as a preferred choice for those travellers seeking a more authentic, sustainable and ethical experience.

“Hotels and restaurants must turn into living, stimulating, inspiring and original spaces in all aspects, offering versatility and a range of uses in order to be profitable, and with the goal of creating experiences that are special, unique and immersive da hubiera pasado.”

Jordi Beltran, 118 Studio.

La consecuencia

Hotels, who have lost an important part of their international clientele, are beginning to experiment with mixed models to diversify their offer. The first step many of them are taking is opening themselves up to the local population. As a consequence, hotels have gone from being exclusive, closed spaces which, in the most part, exist on the periphery of cities, to becoming important hubs for socialising, and are now looking to fulfil a new role as cultural, social and economic entities that interact with their surrounding area. This means reimagining the functions of each of the hotel’s spaces so that they can host activities that combine their traditional clients with these new users.

Design keys

In room restaurants

Their food offering must adapt to the new isolation requirements. Many hotels already allow guests to convert their rooms into private restaurant booths and even collaborate with local chefs.

Cultural hub

Hotels are playing an ever important part in connecting travellers looking for an authentic experience with local culture. That is why it is essential that hotels create long-lasting ties with the social fabric of their environment. Art, design and the economic activities of the local area are just a few of the links that are popping up.

Human interaction

In this new reality, improvisation has all but disappeared, so helping people to form new social relationships will be a way that sets these spaces apart. The humanisation of hotels is vital in order to successfully turn them into social hubs.

Interiors connected with their surroundings

A new approach to interior design has emerged, opting for unique hotels that are connected with the area’s design culture and materials. This is a radical change compared to previous models which aimed to recreate the same experience regardless of the hotel’s location.

Case studies

The Human Hotel is a platform for finding places to stay in private residences with hosts who may have lots in common with you. Both hosts and guests enter their likes and interests, leading to “meaningful meetings” between the two where they can talk and share their hobbies. Photography: Laura Final.

Gracian de Souza, a Goan and Portuguese gourmet chef, tabled the Mesa concept in which he works with different hotel companies to bring a private gastronomic experience to small groups in boutique hotels, residences, villas and hotels throughout Goa, India.
The Xinzhai Coffee Manor a hotel that takes full advantage of the potential of artisanry to create a completely local experience. This complex pays homage to the arabica coffee beans grown in the region and is home to a tasting room, a processing room, a museum, an auditorium, a cafeteria, a shop and a hotel. Trace Architecture Office (TAO) repurposed the original brick buildings erected in the 1980s to create what is a monument to the region.

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Richard Lee Massey and Town Hall Hotel in East London, in collaboration with the ceramics studio Kana, have teamed up to create Apt, a food experience which offers you the chance to have your own private chef. Customers can choose from a list of local chefs and sample the food in one of the hotel’s apartments with tableware designed especially for the experience.

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Hotel Dryce set to open in an old dry ice factory in the cultural district of Fort Worth, Texas. Its aim is to create a social centre for us by both locals and tourists. In addition, its rooms will be decorated with works from local artists.

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