As the hospitality industry gears up to meet the expectations of the discerning traveler, delivering authentic experiences and catering to their sensibilities and values becomes key.

Following up from Downtown Design 2019’s panel discussion Shifting Focus: The Evolving Market of Hotel Design where leading hospitality designers explored how investing in the beliefs of their future clients can render longevity to properties, the international designers featured here offer very distinct views on the hotel experience of tomorrow.

From reinvigorating forgotten buildings and sourcing vintage design pieces, to designing bespoke collections and integrating multi-functionality into the solution, these projects offer the region’s burgeoning hospitality industry a window into the future of hotel design, where minimising carbon footprints and curtailing design waste can be achieved stylishly and without clichés.

Kelly Wearstler

For an elevated, lived-in vibe that is fresh, yet familiar, the American interior designer scoured eclectic furniture from vintage shops to dot around the Proper Hotel in California. Celebrating the architectural character of the space and by echoing it across the various design features, Kelly delivered a very multi-directional scheme with a distinctly contemporary, retro twist, ideal for its Santa Monica location.

Proper Hotel, California (USA)


Norm Architects

A hotel where guests can purchase any design piece on show, The Audo, a 10-room hotel in Copenhagen is the latest to disrupt the boutique hotel concept. The architects had the responsibility to deck the space as a living catalogue of the Danish design brand Menu – the dual purpose property also serves as the brand’s headquarter - without make it intimidating or too ‘styled’. To achieve this, Menu invited over 20 brands to also be part of this hotel – design shop hybrid.

The Audo, Copenhagen (Denmark) 


Claesson Koivisto Rune 

In a mere 14 month, the Stockholm based studio converted a 1920s, World War II surviving building in the Japanese capital into K5 Tokyo, a boutique hotel for which the studio designed 24 bespoke design products. The building’s age was retained mostly unmasked, contrasted with contemporary pieces and characterful design solutions, all conceived around ‘aimai’, a Japanese word used to positively interpret the ambiguous, obscure or vague.

Hotel K5 , Tokyo (Japan) 

Set in the sand of UAE’s Maliha desert, the Al Faya Lodge too offers a great example of reinvigorating abandoned build masses with its renovation of a disused petrol pump.  

Kapsimalis Architects 

The Saint Hotel in Santorini is a cluster of former homes, barns and cellars that retains original and restored structures for a majority of its functions.  Sympathetic to its context – the property occupies a significant portion of the village of Odi – and it’s surrounding architectural typography, the Greek architects played with scale, geometry, shapes and of course colours and materials to integrate the hotel back into old urban fabric.

The Saint Hotel, Santorini (Greece)

Closer home, The Chedi Al Bait in Sharjah is a restoration of a group of historic homes, seamlessly weaving the bustling neighbourhood souq into the guest experience.