These new launches from some of the industry’s major players promise to transform the urban hotel scene.
Confused by some of the new hotel names popping up in the hospitality world? As we have previously reported, some of the biggest accommodation groups in the business have been investing in new sub-brands that actively target the modern, millennial-minded traveller. Typically chic, urban and tech-savvy, these are some of the key launches to look out for.
If the mock-up designs are anything to go by, the hotel world hasn’t seen anything quite like Jo&Joe before – which is, of course, the whole point of this new brand in development by the Accor group.
Envisaged as a co-living hotel, it promises to blur the boundaries between hostel, hotel and private rental, with ‘Together’ sleeping areas for people who don’t mind sharing, and ‘Yours’ rooms and apartments for those who prefer privacy and their own bathroom. Quirky communal and events spaces such as yurts, caravans and beach huts are all in the pipeline.
Public areas are designed to appeal equally to locals (dubbed ‘townsters’) and visitors (‘tripsters’), and the plan is to open 50 venues by 2020, starting (probably) with Paris and Bordeaux next year.
In 2014, Best Western announced plans for its first new hotel brand in nearly seven decades – a string of hip, urban boutique properties in key cities around the world. The brand will fit right in with the new trend for smart hotels. Soon the vision should come to life, with the first openings planned for the US and Asia later this year.
Vīb (short for vibrant and pronounced ‘vibe’) is aimed at the upper midscale market and promises ‘contemporary, tech-centric design’ – think polished concrete floors, local artworks and media walls in the lobby space, and compact but cleverly conceived bedrooms with smart TVs, workstations and LED-lit rain showerheads.
The design concept for Vīb hotels is nothing if not modern
Promising a hotel experience designed by you, London-based hotel group glh unveiled its first Amba-branded property at Charing Cross Station after extensive guest research (see Destination issue 10 for our behind-the-scenes guide).
Amba Hotel Marble Arch followed at the end of 2015, and the group has ambitious plans to bring the four-star brand to key cities worldwide.
After listening to its customers, glh is one of the hotel brands that has invested in the details: superfast WiFi, super-comfy Hypnos beds and in-room tablets to use during your stay. Another nice touch is that there’s no extra markup for room service for those times when you want to eat in the comfort of your own room.
Marriott was quick off the blocks in targeting the millennial market, opening the first of its hipsterish Moxy Hotels at Milan Malpensa Airport in September 2014.
Now, with the opening of Moxy Aberdeen Airport at the end of 2016 and Moxy London Excel this year, it’s up to eight properties, with many more on the cards – including a 612-room hotel opening in 2017 in Times Square, New York.
Fun is high on the Moxy priority list (think playful design, buzzy communal areas and cocktails on arrival), but the rooms also have features for non-partying business travellers, including fast, free WiFi, lots of USB ports and sound-reducing walls.
Playful design is one of the hallmarks at Moxy by Marriott
5. Canopy by Hilton
“Travel should be fun,” said the launch video for Canopy by Hilton, “even on a business trip.”
To that end, this new lifestyle chain has evening tastings of local wines or beers; on-site ‘enthusiasts’ (Canopy-speak for employees) full of recommendations for nearby attractions; and a free welcome gift from the neighbourhood.
The local angle is big for the brand: the debut Canopy, opened in Reykjavik in July 2016, takes its colour cues from the city’s volcanic rock and ocean, and music boxes in the bedrooms play an Icelandic lullaby. Another 20-plus properties will follow in the next few years, including a London City hotel in early 2018.
Canopy by Hilton in Reykjavik takes its cue from local colours
6. Thistle Express
Now that most of us view fast, free WiFi as a basic rather than a luxury perk, it’s hardly surprising that glh is investing significantly in that area for Thistle Express, the new value-hotel concept it announced a couple of years ago.
Modern design and smart TVs are also on the cards, along with a ‘Choose Your Own Room’ service, which allows guests to preselect their exact room before arriving.
You’ll get the chance to check it out soon: the first Thistle Express opens its doors in Luton in the first half of this year, with Swindon to follow in the second half of 2017, and more to come over the next five years.
In issue 12 of our print magazine, Destination, we flagged up an exciting new brand from Starwood Capital Group, known only by its code name of ‘Project 1898’.
Now it’s been revealed as Principal, an urban lifestyle hotel collection that breathes new life into heritage city-centre buildings.
It’s already earned rave reviews for the launch properties – The Principal Manchester (formerly the Palace Hotel), The Principal Edinburgh (previously The George Hotel) and The Principal York (once The Royal York Hotel) – so expectations are high for the next arrivals, which include The Principal London, a radical transformation of The Hotel Russell, due to open this summer.
Principal is revitalising its portfolio of properties with chic, urban interiors
8. Radisson Red
They don’t have employees at Radisson RED, one of the hotel brands from Carlson Rezidor, that debuted in Brussels last year. Instead, they have ‘creatives’, recruited (via a social media campaign) for their ‘emotional spark’, ‘expressivity’ and ‘communicative enthusiasm’.
It’s all part of RED’s anti-dull philosophy, designed to foster more informal interaction between employees and guests – both drawn from a bold, urban crowd keen on art, music and fashion. When the first UK property opens in Glasgow next year, expect striking design, a lively feel and millennial-friendly techno-wizardry.
Thank you DESTINATION for this article – we shall certainly be keeping an eye on these brands!