They want you to sleep with them. And they’ll do almost anything to make sure that you do. They are…hoteliers trying to win your business.
It used to be that a hotel could secure travelers’ loyalty by providing the cornerstones of comfortable lodging: a great location, well-appointed rooms, dining and entertainment options, and doting service. But those days are long gone. Today’s savvy 21st-century travelers routinely check out beach conditions via webcam, are accustomed to interiors decorated by celebrity designers, and expect concierges to be quicker than Google and more discerning than Yelp. Nabbing their allegiance is no easy feat.
As a result, hotels have been steadily upping the ante in trying to entice guests. Some pile on extra high-tech gadgetry to lure the geek-minded to their properties. Others rely on showy design elements (peekaboo bathrooms), luxury amenities (1,500-thread-count linens), retro appliances (record players with a selection of vinyl), customized services (on-call butlers), and personal touches (nightly poems left on your pillow) to woo you. Oh—and your little dog too: some hotels have started to offer weekends of “pet pampering.”
French designer Philippe Starck more or less started the boutique hotel boom when he fashioned New York City’s Royalton hotel in 1988. The midtown property drew jet-setters with its über-designed rooms and common spaces; its sleekly modern lobby—complete with a carpeted runway down the center, flanked by seating areas—was one of the first to become a see-and-be-seen hot spot for locals.
Since then, hotels all over the world have made design a calling card, ushering in over-the-top interior trends as disparate as high-glam Hollywood Regency (seen at Viceroy hotels) and industrial modern (Ace is the place). But it’s no longer enough to create lobbies that, at W Hotels, simulate “living rooms.” Now hotels are competing with nightclubs, opening exclusive rooftop bars with bottle service and VIP swimming pools. Meanwhile, the rooms that guests retire to have become ever-plusher oases of tranquility, with robes and slippers to be worn in marble spa bathrooms, pillow menus, and bath butlers.
Now, we love imaginative indulgences as much as the next traveler, but some of these offerings are much more head-scratchers than head-turners. We’ve scoured hotel offerings and discovered some hip trends you might like and some that are pure hype.
Check out our slideshow before your next check-in.
—David A. Keeps