Generator Venice

Independent Travel Awards 2015 - your chance to nominate

One of the most refreshing changes in the hospitality industry has been the democratisation of high-end design. No longer are budget hotel rooms boxes of bland interiors and cheap fixtures.

Groups such as Citizen M and the newly-launched Virgin Hotels have ensured that more moderate budgets are catered for with stylish design, decent connectivity and well thought-out facilities.

Similarly, hostels have upped their game. The Generator chain has been expanding in interesting locations, such as Venice and Paris; and Safestay has been converting heritage buildings around the UK (South and West London, plus York), while Freehand blurs the lines between a hostel and hotel with properties in Miami, Chicago and coming soon, Los Angeles.

Spain has spawned two good-looking, economy-conscious hotel groups in the form of Room Mate and Praktik. We enjoyed the latter's wine- and bakery-themed outposts, Vinoteka and Bakery, in Barcelona.

And the peer-to-peer behemoth Airbnb shows no signs of slowing down its expansion, employing slick marketing campaigns to gain traction in new territories, including Cuba.