Shapes of things to come? A glimpse into the hotel experience a decade ahead

Whether you’re leaving for an overnight stay on business or going on a city break, hoteliers know what you want and the rooms are about to change. Simon Calder investigates

Travel Correspondent

Hotel reception staff and bell-hops are endangered species. Guests at the hotel of the future will bypass the front desk, wheel their own bags - and open their room door with a code sent to their smartphone.

Once inside the room, they may be struck by the lack of space, as designers cram facilities into a smaller footprint. More mirrors may be installed in a bid to counter the squeeze – but they will be round, not square.

The Sleep 2013 exhibition, which opened today in London, provides a glimpse into the hotel experience a decade ahead.

Philip Houghton, operations director of Starboard Hotels, told The Independent: “For mass-market hotels, checking in is still quite a ‘sheep dip’. But technology will steer a more personal service for the mass market. If you prefer not to bother going to the reception desk, you will be sent a code to your phone that will work the room door.”

But Dennis Irvine, design director of the luxury firm Fox Linton Associates, said the public are wary of the concept: “People worry about security. I know of one 200-room hotel where they installed a system like that, and they had to rip it all out and put conventional locks back”.

Guests who still appreciate the human touch can expect a more personal welcome. Tracking technology using the GPS facility on smartphones will allow reception staff to identify the next guest to walk through the front door, and respond accordingly. Mr Houghton speculated: “If they know you like a hug, you’ll get a hug”.

But guests will look in vain for a bellboy to help with baggage.

Ian Schrager, the man who conceived the boutique hotel, has launched a new venture – Public Hotels – with fewer staff.

“We will edit down those services that are unimportant to people,” he said. “Why do we need bellhops any more when everyone has luggage with wheels?”

The move will come as a relief for British visitors to the US. Many traveller are happy to carry their own bags, and do not want to feel like cheapskates for doing so – and not tipping the bellhop.

Mr Schrager said hotels needed to recognise “a paradigm shift” taking place among guests: “I think people are more interested in value. People don’t care so much about ostentatious consumption. And people don’t want to order an egg sandwich and a cup of coffee [from room service] and pay $35 for it.”

The location for Sleep 2013 is the Business Design Centre in Islington, sandwiched between a Hilton Hotel and a Premier Inn. But many experts said that the standardised hotel is falling out of favour.

“The budget hotel is dead,” said David Myers, chief executive of the Sleeperz chain. “Affordable lifestyle hotels are the future, offering good design and luxury with creative use of space.”

Arlett Oehmichen, Director of HVS London – a hotel consultancy said: “When I fly into Heathrow and they ask me at passport control where I’m coming from, I have to think hard because so many hotels look the same. For me it’s important to get some interaction from the people on the ground. The local cultural aspect is very important. If you can bring in local features into the hardware of the hotel that’s good.”

Ken Shuttleworth, founder of Make Architects, said: “There’s a much bigger focus on place, so you know where you are when you wake up in the morning – whether it’s Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur – by locking the interior into the place and the time you’re in.

The room may be more local, but it may also be smaller. Paul Priestman, who created the Yotel concept, said: “I think rooms don’t need to be as big as they are. Compact spaces, when they’re designed well, are really fun to be in. The most important thing is the bed; second most important is the bathroom.”

As hoteliers try to square the circle of matching travellers’ rising expectations with affordability, the shape of mirrors to come will change. Chris Boulton, chief executive of the hotel design company, yoo, said: “Round mirrors are quicker to clean than square mirrors. It makes the cleaner happier.”

The iron and ironing board may be eliminated to save space. Rob Wagermans, founder and creative director of Concrete, the Dutch design consultancy, said that the Citizen M “modular” hotel showed guests were happy to share.

“We decided to have one ironing room on every floor, with a really good steam iron. Even if I have to wait 10 minutes to iron my shirt, it’s a way better experience.” But he cautioned against reducing too many staff. “Do I need a reception desk? No. Do I need a smiling face? Yes.”

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice