Why lobbies are vital to a thriving hotel

Hotel lobbies weren’t always a trendy place to congregate. Not too long ago, lobbies were mostly vacant and spacious – essentially a hotel’s waiting room.

Now in modern hotels, guests are found relaxing, lounging, and having meetings in the lobby. The younger generation wants to sit and work in the lobby, socialise, and people watch.

A trend in design is opening the lobby with large, exaggerated ceilings, and environments that blend into each other. This can be with moveable furniture and communal tables which get guests gathering around and interacting with one another.

A lot of hotels integrate the restaurant or bar in with the lobby, making a big open space for guests to dine or relax with a drink. Bringing the bar into the lobby creates a full experience for guests, but it also opens up new revenue streams.

“If there are food and beverages in the lobby, there’s potential for revenue,” said Dana Kalczak, vice president of design, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Mixing the hotel bar with the lobby also has the added benefit of attracting locals, as well as guests. Having integrated dining options and social activities directly in the lobby draws locals in, especially in inner-city locales that have foot traffic.

There’s also the added ability to impress, where most guests will form their first impression.

Mega Chandelier at SO/ Auckland

SO/ Auckland is a prime example of this. With signature design throughout by Benny Castles of WORLD, the Mix Bar on the ground floor entrance lobby is topped off with a Mega Chandelier sure to catch all guests’ attention.

Nothing makes a grand statement more than a hotel with a draw dropping lobby with a grand chandelier and all. Once the visitor’s interest is piqued, they’re hooked and can enjoy a drink at the classy rooftop Hi-SO Bar or the Harbour Society restaurant.

Steve Rosling, design director of element 17 foresees the evolution of the hotel lobby going a step further.

“A trend for 2019 is the transformation of the hotel lobby into the clubhouse for the hotels. A space to be fully utilised that hasn’t been in the past,” said Rosling.

At the Hilton Hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida, for example, crowds gather in the lobby in the evening to enjoy DJ Adam Lipson’s beats in an environment like a nightclub.

Refurbishing public spaces to make full use of a public space doesn’t come cheap, but that doesn’t mean that trendy, multi-use lobbies are restricted to five-star properties. At Pod 39 Hotel in New York City, the budget property congregates guests in its aptly named Play Room, where guests can play table tennis and huddle over board games while enjoying cocktails.

The Playroom at Pod 39 Hotel.

There are countless opportunities for hotels to take advantage of their lobby space, from flexible spaces, to food and beverage offerings, to areas for guests to mingle.

The best case of hotel’s utilising the lobby space is when they think of how guests use spaces at home. Hoteliers must understand whether the guests are there to eat, relax, work, or have fun, and build the lobby to adapt around that. Converting the peaceful lobby bar to a workspace during the day, a restaurant in the evening and then a traditional bar in the evenings gives hotels the chance to quickly adapt the lobby into whatever the guests require is vital to make the most out of a hotel lobby.