11 Hotel Trends in 2017

1. The new country house hotel

The country house has long been a bastion of the glorious English countryside but this year belongs to their cooler younger sisters: the new-era inn. Last summer saw the opening of Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall by two highly acclaimed chefs – April Bloomfield of New York’s Spotted Pig and Tom Adams of London’s wood-smoked meat restaurant Pitt Cue Co. Food, of course, is a focus (Tom cooks up three-course feasts featuring his own rare-breed Mangalitza pig), as is the community feel – Fiona Duncan, hotel expert, reported ‘evenings are successful, with strangers gelling.’ Similarly, The Mash Inn, recently opened in Buckinghamshire, aims to remove the barrier between chef and diner through an open kitchen, kitchen garden, plus homemade beer.

Early this year Beaverbrook in Surrey will join the fray. It includes an 11-bedroom Garden House (which is now open), farm-to-table Italian restaurant plus cooking school and a treehouse hideaway for children, all overseen by hotelier Justin Pinchbeck (formerly of The Berkeley, Lime Wood and The Zetter Townhouse).

2. High and low-brow stays

If ‘poshtels’ have been the biggest recent trend in the budget realm, then the next big thing is the combination of high and low brow features in hotels. It might be a design hotel offering dormitory rooms alongside suites, with cool accoutrements, such as Reykjavik’s new Oddsson hotel and hostel.

Chicago’s The Robey and The Hollander hotels, situated next door to each other, also follow a similar model: the former is a boutique hotel in an Art Deco skyscraper with skyline views, a French-American restaurant and a rooftop pool, the latter offers shared bunk rooms (plus affordable private ones), a coffee shop and social media scheme whereby guests can connect on Instagram prior to their stay. It is described by Kate Silver, our Chicago expert, as ‘catnip for value-hungry hipsters’. Guests of both properties will be able to access each other’s facilities and the rooftop will be accessible via a walkway between each hotel.

Lastly, there’s even a new hotel dedicated to the trend: Portland Oregon’s first Hi-Lo Hotel opens early this year, and will offer rugged interiors with sleek finishes, and a casual Mexican restaurant from a Michelin-starred chef.

3. A spotlight on secondary cities

Ace Hotels has been a leader in popularising secondary cities and unlikely neighbourhoods – despite having hotels in big hitters such as New York, London and Los Angeles, their focus leans more towards cities such as Seattle, Portland, Pittsburgh and New Orleans (a Chicagooutpost will open in 2017).

New British hotel brand Principal – hotels for modern travellers based in heritage properties – also follows this theme, opting to launch the hotel not in the capital, but in Manchester, Edinburgh and York(London opens later this year). Back in the UK, Irish hotel group O’Callaghan has picked Cambridge as the location of its first hotel The Tamburlaine, which will open its doors in spring.

Likewise, new US luxury group Pendry has picked San Diego’s Gas Lamp district and Baltimore’s Recreation Pier as the location for its first two hotels, and millennial hotel group Canopy by Hilton will open properties in Washington DC, Portland and Dallas. Conversely, the flamboyant Zetter Townhouse hotel group will open its first hotel outside of the capital in 2018 in Manchester.

4. Heading South

2016 saw a host of Central and South American openings from the top to toe of the continent, not least due to new direct flight routes from London to Lima. Early January 2017 saw the launch of the first non-stop flights to Santiago. Traditional mansion houses in South American capitals are being converted into boutique hotels, such as Hotel Magnolia and Luciano K in Santiago, Atemporal in Lima and, this year, Illa Hotel in Quito. La Paz also welcomed its first design hotel Atix, while international brands will continue to open: the Oekter Collection’s Palacio Tangará and a Four Seasons will both open in Sao Paulo, plus a Melia hotel is set for Cartagena.

5. Hotel sweet hotel

The popularity of hotels which look like an idealised version of your own home continues. If hotels are a portrait of the times then this period is all about décor that whispers rather than screams, with subtle design references – and not a four-poster bed in sight. As Muriel Muirden, VP and Managing Director of global strategy for design firm, WATG, says: ‘Hotel guests are rejecting generic, fussy, cluttered hotel interiors and over-the-top bathrooms, in favour of simpler, calmer and more streamlined design. However, it still needs to be an aspirational home from home, with quirky art work, super comfy beds and sexy walk-in showers.’

Head to the the likes of Masseria Moroseta, a modernist masseria in Puglia with furniture sourced from the area’s antique markets (some of which is for sale), London’s Scandi-chic Leman Locke, or Barcelona’s Casa Bonay, which is ‘as trendy as a New York lobby, yet as comfortable as your grandmother’s living room,’ according to our reviewer Zoe Johnson. You can now also make your home more like a hotel too, with brands launching their own furniture lines, such as Uxua Casa, Soho House and Oetker & Eden Rock group’s new line Eden Being.

6. Brands opening hotel chains

Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld and watch brand Shinola are just two of the brands which are opening bona fide hotels this year and next. The former will launch in Macau followed by yet-to-be-announced destinations, though all will offer the chance to ‘experience the world through Karl’s lenses’; the latter will open in its birthplace of Detroit.

Unsurprisingly, homeware brands also have plans to open properties, mostly as an extension of their shop windows. West Elm, a Brooklyn-born artisan furniture store will open a chain across the US (including Detroit, Savannah and Indianapolis), while Restoration Hardware, a luxury US brand, will open a 14-room hotel and restaurant in New York’s Meatpacking District. Both will allow guests to purchase furniture as easily as checking in.

7. Cocktails are king

If last year was all about conceptual, interesting restaurants in hotels, then this year the attention has moved onto the drinks. Wizard-like drinks expert Tony Conigliaro, lauded for his avant-garde cocktail bar 69 Colebrooke Row in London, and for overseeing the drinks menus at the Zetter group, plans to open a bar and restaurant with rooms in Cognac this summer, opposite the Hennessy cellars. Everything will be locally sourced.

Back in London, drinks will be flowing at the Experimental Cocktail Club’s second hotel, the 18-bedroom Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden(their first was the Grand Pigalle in Paris). Mimi’s, a new hotel and cocktail bar by Berlin hotelier Lutz Strangemann, is also on the cards, which is located on Frith street and takes inspiration from Soho’s heyday.

Existing hotels are also offering interesting takes on cocktails – suites at The London EDITION places drinks trolleys with a ‘virtual’ book on how to make signature drinks from the hotel’s atmospheric Punch Room; the W London offers a similar in-room ‘MegaBar’ experience with a bartender, disco ball and soundsystem in tow, while The Lanesborough now offers miniature tasting cocktail flights at its Library bar.

8. Hotels and art

While art curation in hotels is prevalent – 21c Museum Hotels combine contemporary art with boutique hoteliering, and the Rome Cavalieriholds Europe’s biggest art collection – Cape Town’s new hotel The Silo, which opens in March, goes one step further: it will sit atop the city’s new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (the museum’s opening will follow in September). Both the hotel and museum are situated in a former grain store (The Silo’s 28 rooms will sit in the old lift tower), which has been redesigned by Thomas Heatherwick. The sixth floor will have a weighbridge directly to the museum’s sculpture gallery, and the concierge will be able to arrange private tours.

Other hotels are also embracing local cultural spots: Lisbon’s AlmaLusahotel offers free entry to the new and nearby Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, while the Hotel de Russie in Rome will hold an exclusive exhibition of Picasso’s engravings to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his first visit to Rome (from January 20 to February 28).

9. Make your own hotel

Customisation has reached new heights. Travel company Black Tomato has launched Blink, a new service which allows people to ‘design their own luxury temporary accommodation in locations that are so private, pristine and untouched that no one else will have stayed there before (or again) in the same way.’ The company’s experts will hand-pick unlikely locations, from the Bolivian salt flats to an Icelandic fjord, where camps can be set up for clients. Afterwards, there will be no trace it was ever there. Prices range from £8,800 to £23,000 (both based on six people), depending on destination.

Similarly, Epic Retreats will allow travellers to stay at a ‘disappearing’ hotel in one of three natural spots in Wales, to celebrate the country’s Year of Legends. If pop-ups aren’t your thing, then book into one of the Oetker Collection’s properties instead. The group offers personal experiences for guests, such as skiing with three-time Olympic and World Championship medalist Florence Masnada on the slopes of Les Trois Vallées (in conjunction with L’Apogée Courchevel), or diving with multiple world record-holder with Fred Buyle at Eden Rock St Barthsand Fregate Island in the Seychelles.

10. The Maldives redefined

The Maldives is no longer only synonymous with honeymooners. Despite it still being a global marker of luxury around the world – Four Seasons opened its first exclusive-use private island in the island nations’s only Unesco Biosphere in December of last year – the Maldives has been realigning its new accommodation offerings to suit a broader range of guests.

The arrival of Thomas Cook’s new Eriyadu resort and the stylish new Kandima Maldives (which boasts the longest pool in the Maldives and a marine biology school) will establish it as a bona fide family getaway, while those looking for more affordable options can book into the Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort from February, said to be the best value available across the atolls. Those looking for more than just fly and flop will also be happy to hear that the New York-based Butter Group have launched clubs at both Finolhu and Amilla Fushi, which will offer everything from live DJ sets to pool parties with mermaids, acrobats and stilt walkers.

11. More members’ clubs

The prevalence of members’ clubs in hotels, also featured on last year’s list, show no sign of slowing down. Last year saw the opening of La Granja, a 10-room farmhouse in Ibiza for members run by Design Hotels, plus numerous others such as the Devonshire Club. 2017 will see the likes of east London’s The Curtain Hotel and Private Members’s Club to rival Shoreditch House; The Ned, a partnership between hotel group Sydell and Soho House & Co in the former Midland Bank building; and the Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square which will hold the first ever Four Seasons members’ club on its top floors. The Lanesborough Club & Spa is also set to open a private fitness and health club, inspired by the Roman Baths. The Ned will open in April 2017 in an Edwin Lutyens-designed building which was the former Midland Bank.