Design & Innovations: The Story of Hotels

I travel a fair bit and after many years, I have developed airports panic disorder. As soon as I leave home I start dreading the painful journeys through airports. From the moment I get off the car, the torture starts;

The never ending queues, the stripping, the molestations, strangers touching your personal belongings and hours sitting in an aluminum tube breathing same air with another 200-300 fellow human beings. I always find myself longing to reach my hotel room!

And here I am at my hotel room, what an anticlimax! Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the room lacks comfort, cleanliness or gadgets, but it looks so much like any other hotel room, I could easily be in Beijing, London, Dubai or anywhere else in the world. Why can’t hotel rooms and hotels in general have character and some uniqueness?

Hotel rooms have evolved over the last century; It all started with Inn-keeping, which can be said to be the first commercial enterprises in hospitality for which money was exchanged.  Early history of accommodation can be traced back to the Greek word “xenia”, which translates into hospitality and the protection given to a traveller from discomforts.

Until the industrial revolution of the 1700s, there were no significant improvements of inns and taverns. Then, to accommodate wealthy travellers, luxurious structures were constructed with private rooms, individual sanitation and all the comforts of a EuropeanCastle. These new elegant establishments adopted the French word for mansion – “hotel”. The evolution of hotels has since always been influenced by global, economical, and industrial developments.

Hotels started being classified by location, function, and other special characteristics; From city hotels, business hotels, leisure hotels, and so on.  These classifications are always changing to accommodate more and more diverse types.

Today, hotels have become much more than a place to sleep; travellers now view hotels as an integral part of a getaway experience. They combine “savoir faire” and the good use of technology to offer their guests an “a la carte” environment. Hotels have become as important an aspect of a trip as the sites and monuments to be visited during the trip.

So with all that classification you would think hotel room design has produced as diverse room types as the types of hotels. Well not really; colours, fabric and gadgets may change, but in general, with very few exceptions, rooms are practically moulded on few patterns.

Double bed bedrooms, typical bathrooms, your all day dining place, a lobby and the isolated gym are the staples of each hotel.

We go through painful journeys to reach our destinations, be it for work, exploration or simply for a change. Hotels should become places where you find not only a room with a bed and a table in a corner but, a place where every single details in its design concept is focused on creating that special place,  “a place to remember”.

I will be exploring the different facets of hotels and how some have managed to create unique places that makes you want to go back again and again.