Harris Jackson interior design hotel

The Boutique Hotel community; Episode 2

In our last article we discussed the importance of locality in the new breed of boutique hotel and how the market is changing.

At the forefront of this evolution is the need for each new establishment to make a great first impression. By offering up and tailoring a grand opening to its new client base, the hotel introduces itself to the locality rather than alienating locals. Consequently creating longstanding community connections enabling hoteliers to cultivate relationships with their neighbours.

Curating the guest lists starts with the tastemakers and influencers from the locale and as a result the local community can become involved. By building this credible link, the hotels are seen investing profits back into training programs within the venture or by offering hospitality training to individuals from disadvantaged local communities. This assistance offers a tangible reason for the community to support the new venture by helping locals to (re-)integrate in the job market.

More often than not a boutique hotel will endeavour to source all ingredients for food, materials, and labour locally from small business owners and craftsmen. The result again is continual support to the communities in which they operate keeping profit within the area and ultimately regenerating it.

An excellent example of this is The Park Hotel in Barnstaple, part of Brend Hotels, who having unveiled the results of its recent £2m refurbishment, bids to become a real ‘community hub’ for locals. Their website quotes “The Park is an exciting hub for visitors and locals alike”.

The design of this new venue means they also become neighbourhood fixtures with locals seen through the repurposing of old iconic buildings. Whether within an old theatre, factory, or apartment building, a hotel that operates inside a historic landmark creates a unique sense of place and authenticity. The properties have a residential look-and-feel, with design & decoration varying throughout the rooms. In line with the growing popularity of Airbnb, these hotels make guests feel as if they are residing in their very own home in a familiar neighbourhood, not just a hotel room.

Common areas and events within the hotel help to encourage interaction and socializing among guests. Some even offer pantry’s on each guest floor to encourage guests to come out of their rooms and interact in the corridors and public areas.

The New Road Hotel, which opened in April 2019, is a retro, 60’s and 70’s inspired new property situated in Whitechapel in East London, transformed from an old textile factory.

The owner ***** De Kruiff hopes the hotel will be at the heart of the continued regeneration of the area. Social areas encourage guest interaction, such as a 2nd floor library, an ironing station on the 3rd floor, a communal games room and a rooftop space.

De Kruuiff’s ideal for the New road is to focus on creating a sense of community with exciting regular social events. They want to create ideal hangout spots for their community, allowing guests and regulars to mingle, more reminiscent of a neighbourhood coffee shop than hotel lobby. On 29th January 2020 saw the inaugural Hospitality Leadership and Design Conference (HLDC) land in London. It is here where the thought that Hotels have a great part to play in shaping how we live, work and socialise within our communities.

These new community hubs are a creation of a specific relationship. “Ultimately it’s all about the relationship between owner and designer,” said Grace Leo, of Grace Leo design consultancy. “If there’s a shared sense of values and similar approaches then there needn’t be those points of tension, because both are charting the same course together.”

To summarise, boutique hotels will continue to grow in popularity and outgrow big hotel chains. The ultimate goal of creating a place where locals, not just travellers, want to be to experience authentic & cultural authenticity. Thus, not only creating a unique accommodation but creating a destination within a destination.


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