Hotel lobbies used to have the look and feel of a home’s formal living room – lovely to look at but not the kind of place you’d want to spend much time in.
that, hotels are transforming their lobbies to appeal to varying social habits,
hoping guests will hang out and spend money at the hotel, rather than going out
to local bars or restaurants. For example, earlier this year the Holiday Inn chain began
rolling out a new lobby concept called “The HUB” which “integrates the lobby,
bar and restaurant space into an area with multiple places for guests to
eat/drink, connect, relax and have fun”. Other hotels are following suit
with improvements in the following categories:
available in nearly every hotel lobby in the world, and in most cases access is
free, even if there’s a charge to log on in your room. The desks, computers and
printers that used to be in the hotel “business centre” are finding their way into
the open space. Electrical outlets are no longer hidden behind the curtains or
sofas — instead, they’ve become part of the furniture, incorporated into tables
and lamps. The Marriott chain of hotels is installing touch screen “Go Boards”
that offer guests quick access to local maps, weather, events and nearby
restaurants – information that was once provided by a concierge.
If you don’t
feel like sitting in your room to wind down at night, many hotel lobbies now
offer giant flat screen televisions and plenty of seating so guests can gather
to watch sporting events or movies together. Many lobbies also have “gaming
areas” that allow guests to play on Xbox, Nintendo or Wii consoles.
Food and drink
breaking down the walls that used to separate full-service restaurants from the
rest of the hotel, and are turning the spaces into less formal cafes. Last
summer, Le Meridien hotels launched a “hub” lobby concept which is a
coffee-inspired space during the day and a wine-inspired space at night. In the
US, Marriott Courtyard’s “Bistro” offers cooked-to-order egg sandwiches for
breakfast, and sandwiches and salads the rest of the day. At Starwood’s new Element
hotels, there’s an evening reception four nights at week that includes free
beer, wine and hot or cold snacks.
At the end
of the day, would you be more likely to socialize with other hotel guests or
colleagues in the lobby, or would you rather spend your free time in your hotel
room? Please leave your comments on our Facebook page.
Chris McGinnis is
the business travel columnist for BBC Travel