Gone are the days of matching curtains and bedspreads, beige rug floors and standard white porcelain bathrooms.
The new millennium brought more than new resolutions - hotels have worked hard to ditch the bricks-and-morter design concepts and have incorporated everything from designer bedsheets to iPads and electric window shades into hotel rooms as a way to woo guests toward a better staying experience.
Well-known designers including Ian Schrager, best known for his stylings at boutique hotels including the Mondrian, Morgans Hotel Group and most recently, Marriott's EDITION Collection; and Missoni, the fashion house that recently launched their brand of hotels in 2009, started the trend of hotels using unique designs to appeal to a more luxe traveler.
"The most successful interiors, regardless of brand, are spaces with strong concept. Architecture and interior design is only part of the package," says Beth Katz, IIDA, Principal of KatzDesignGroup.
In Bangkok, Accor's Novotel Bangkok Ploenchit recently unveiled a new guestroom concept that includes features designed to "re-humanize" the travel experience for guests.
The new design is meant to give "an impression of spaciousness and freedom of movement through the use of transparency," the hotel said in a release. Gone are walls and separators, and the new guest rooms are open plans that include a bathroom separated from the rest of the room by a transparent glass partition that becomes opaque at the flick of a switch.
While space is certainly an important factor when considering room designs, Katz says the element of design goes beyond the room's four walls and tech-friendly amenities.
Likening a good design concept to the fine detail jewelry on a couture gown that makes it stand out from the rest of the designer wear, Katz says the guests' understanding to the hotel's design is equally important as the design itself. "When I walk into a hotel and I 'get it' right away, I see the concept in every layer of the space from the landscape to the uniforms."
A guests positive reaction to the hotel design is vital for repeat visits, but technology also plays a vital role in the design process. The InterContinental Hotel Group recently introduced iPad2's in 10 hotels worldwide, connecting guests face-to-face with hotel concierge's simply by plugging in their Apple device.
"The iPad2 will help our Concierges offer real-time, local recommendations to guests even before they leave home. It will complement the...maps, videos and information we already provide online, as well as face-to-face consultation when our guests are in our hotels," says Charles Yap, Director Global Brand Communications, IHG.
While technology, space and color give the hotel personality, the bottom line still comes down to functionality and comfortability.
"Hotels are the common person's modern day castle," says Katz. "Let us enjoy the dream not only by luxury but also by the scents, and experiences we don't have in our everyday home."Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world. Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com