Audrey de Filippis, Hotel Design Lead, Jasmax.

“The Latest Trend to Hit Hotels Is Essentialism.

‘Bleisure’ was once a useful term to describe the blend of business and leisure travellers that revolutionised what people wanted out of their hotel experience. But this is out of date according to a growing group of boutique hotel offerings in America who shared their insights at the Hospitality Design Expo in Las Vegas this May.

The latest lifestyle trend to sweep the US boutique hospitality experience is essentialism, making small rooms even smaller – paring them back to their essentials. The keys to making these micro guestrooms work is thoughtful design, luxurious finishings and the creation of memorable experiences.

Catering not just to millennials but the millennial-minded, this new wave of hospitality disruptors argue that what we are designing for is not a label, what we are designing for is just life. Here are four examples of these new lifestyle hotels making their mark in the US:

Sister City
Due to open in NYC in autumn 2018, Sister City is taking the concept of micro rooms to the next level. What is it exactly that people want from their hotel experience? Small but perfectly formed, a space that makes you feel something attests to the studio that made Ace Hotel. Sister City is billed as “an experiment in essentialism.” With 200 “intimate, efficient” rooms “distilled to their most beautiful, essential parts”, Sister City aspires to give travellers luxury in a teeny-tiny space. Instead of listing room amenities, it tells you how you will feel when you stay there “courage, spirit, soft feeling.”

Arlo Hotels
Having launched in 2016 and holding strong, these hotels in Soho and Manhattan with ‘micro rooms’, have a slew of awards under their belt since opening two years ago. Arlo hotels promise “essentials without excess.” Carefully designed with luxury bedding, large windows and sweeping views – or touch-button black-out blinds if you prefer. They promise to cultivate a sense of belonging in the guest, a comforting feeling that the hotel is responsive to your needs and interfaces with the environment around it.

It’s not just the smaller brands who are diversifying their options. Moxy is Marriott International’s offering in this micro space. Moxy offers style at an attractive price. Its motto, “Smaller means concentration, not a reduction.” It targets travellers who want the personalisation and fun of a backpackers but without the dorm rooms and uncomfortable beds. Moxy provides a drink with your room key and its brand is focused on creating experiences, “our lobbies are like living rooms with a bartender.”

Moxy launched in Europe in 2013 and spread to the US in 2015. Starting with an iconic Times Square location, it now has ten hotels across the US, including Seattle, Minneapolis and New Orleans. The brand is proving so popular there are four new Moxy hotels due to open in 2018 in New York City alone. No surprises, there is also a Moxy in Tokyo.

The London-based hotel development company, Ennismore, is launching a “new brand of budget” hotel in Brooklyn in 2019. In 2012, the company founder, Sharan Pasricha, with no previous hospitality experience, launched the first of the company’s design-driven hotels. Hoxton Hotel, in London, offers stylish yet compact hotels for under £100 ($194NZD) a night in trendy Shoreditch. These hotels say they are “open house hotels” inspired by the streets around them. There are now two Hoxton hotels in the UK and two in Europe.

NoCo is the brand’s “less boring budget” expansion into the US market, NoCo promises to be “never overpriced, never underwhelming.” Coming to Williamsburg in 2019, it is community focused, app-driven and fusing the idea of “market, bar and hotel”, NoCo aspires to draw in locals and travellers alike.

Design challenging the status quo
With smart design, the difference between luxury and basic fit outs is negligible compared to the cost of the base build itself. These hotels are challenging the status quo that small and affordable means either generically-designed or scrimping on quality. They are design-driven, personable hotels offering their guests a richness of experience. The success of the Moxy and Arlo hotels suggest that smaller footprint hotels with an emphasis on cutting-edge design, not space, are here to stay.”

Audrey de Filippis, Hotel Design Lead, Jasmax.