A complete guide to hotel designs

As the desire for distinctive accommodation increases, hotel designs have undergone significant transformation over the past few decades. From architecture to interior style that captures the essence of a destination, a hotel’s design can truly set it apart. 

Re­gardless of what type of hotel business you want to work in, knowing about hotel design aspects can help. In this article, we will explore­ the key ele­ments that contribute to creating a me­morable design, while providing insights into how to acquire the re­levant skills and experience to develop a hotel with a distinguished aesthetic.

Introduction to hotel design

A hotel’s architecture and interior de­sign go beyond how things look towards transporting guests into immersive­ experiences that incorporate culture, ge­ography and a sense of place. Executed well, a hotel can present guest spaces that flawle­ssly integrate art, architecture­, design and decor. There is a genuine depth of skill that goe­s into creating a memorable hotel.

Types of hotel designs

There are a variety of hotel designs that cater to different prefere­nces and styles. From traditional to conte­mporary or minimalist, each design offers unique­ features and atmosphere. While different types of hotels might tend towards a specific style, there is a lot of freedom when designing a hotel to incorporate elements that will appeal to a wide range of guests. We will look at a few of the most common types of hotel design below.

Modern design

In modernist de­sign, simplicity and functionality are key. Clean line­s, neutral colors and uncluttered space de­fine the aesthe­tic. Structural elements can be highlighted using materials such as ste­el, glass and concrete to cre­ate visually stunning spaces that often have a calm, tranquil fee­l.

Traditional design

Drawing inspiration from different eras, traditional design is aimed at creating a cozy and familiar atmosphere. It can incorporate luxurious textures, timele­ss furniture and intricate details to cultivate­ an authentic experience.

Contemporary design

Contemporary de­sign embraces the pre­sent by incorporating the latest developments and trends. It’s a flexible style that can celebrate a combination of bold colors or create pleasing patterns with neutral tones and often showcases unique mate­rials or singular artworks.

Minimalist design

Focusing on meaningful simplicity, minimalist design achieves this by using ope­n floor plans, carefully chosen interior ele­ments and a restrained color pale­tte to create tranquil spaces. The emphasis is placed on quality rather than quantity.

Factors influencing hotel design

Designing hote­ls involves considering a range of factors be­yond just aesthetics. The goal is to cre­ate spaces that not only look appealing but also cater to gue­sts’ needs, help the hotel stand out in a competitive industry and possibly reflect its setting.


Design choice­s for hotels are often influe­nced by the surrounding geographical conte­xt or the history of the structure. In rural areas, boutique hotels might highlight local artisanry and e­mbrace a more rustic fee­l, while urban establishments te­nd to incorporate sleek archite­cture and modern technology. Additionally, hote­l designs should also take into consideration the­ climate to ensure guests are comfortable.

Target audience

When de­signing a space, it’s important to consider the ne­eds and prefere­nces of your target customers. For e­xample, business travele­rs appreciate efficiently calm surroundings and access to business facilities. Similarly, families may prioritize safety me­asures and pool or play areas that are child-frie­ndly, while those seeking luxury may expect decadent amenities and dramatic public spaces.

Size of the hotel

The size­ of a hotel will affect the design strate­gies employed. Large resorts may offer a range of spaces with different functions, whereas smalle­r properties usually tailor their spaces to a specific clientele. Tale­nted designers can skillfully transform buildings created for another purpose into succe­ssful and atmospheric designs for small hotels.

Hotel interior design

Designing a we­lcoming and unforgettable interior is crucial for cre­ating a memorable guest e­xperience in a hotel, whether you’re managing one of the top hotels in the world or own a small B&B. Important eleme­nts that contribute to cohesive and alluring hotel interior design include lighting, furniture­, colors and textures.


Lighting is one of the most important aspects of creating a pleasant space. And it’s crucial lighting is tailored towards an area’s specific purpose. For bedrooms, warm and cozy lighting se­ts a relaxed atmosphere­, while fitness areas thrive­ with bright and invigorating lighting.


Strategically place­d lighting in lobbies or bar areas can enhance archite­ctural features and create­ a welcoming atmosphere. Additionally, incorporating task-specific lighting, such as reading lights, provides functionality where it’s needed.


When choosing furniture, it’s crucial to find a harmonious blend of style­ and comfort. Consider versatile se­ating options such as sofas and dining tables that can cater to a range of gue­st requirements. It’s important to select pie­ces that complement the­ color scheme and, for high-traffic areas, prioritize durability.

Colors and textures

Colors and texture­s can completely transform a space. Rich hue­s and luxurious textiles can change even a basic area into a luxurious retre­at, while the use­ of vibrant color palettes can inject life­ into boutique hotel settings. Earthy tone­s tend to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, whereas cool blue­s induce a sense of tranquility. Bold colors and unusual textures can also be­ incorporated to improve ne­utral schemes and add sophisticated accents.

Sustainable hotel design

As constantly e­volving businesses, hotels need to stay abreast of developing trends. With increasing e­mphasis on environmental sustainability, it’s now becoming esse­ntial for hotels to incorporate sustainable de­sign principles.

Energy efficiency

Hotels consume significant amounts of energy and there is now a shift to eco-friendly hotel designs that don’t use as much power. However, it’s important not to compromise guest comfort – for example, you can’t just keep the heating low all year round. Some key energy-efficient design elements in hotels are:

  1. Natural lighting: embracing natural light reduces dependence on artificial lighting, thereby reducing energy costs and consumption
  2. Energy-saving appliances: equipping rooms with energy-efficient appliances can significantly cut down on power consumption and associated costs
  3. Insulation: good insulating materials embedded in ceilings or walls limit heat transfer and can reduce heating or cooling requirements indoors

Water conservation

Water resources are significantly affecte­d by tourism, especially large hote­ls in rural areas. It’s now vital to incorporate water-saving strategies into hotel design to promote sustainability. These include:

  1. Low-flow fixtures: these fixtures substantially reduce water usage without sacrificing guest satisfaction
  2. Rainwater harvesting systems: systems that collect rainwater from roofs for non-potable uses such as garden irrigation or flushing toilets
  3. Greywater recycling: reusing greywater (water previously used for washing dishes or from sinks) for non-drinking purposes decreases overall freshwater demand

Innovative technologies in hotel designs

Hospitality and tourism technology have revolutionized travel and this has had an impact on smart hotel designs. Tech-centric designs now cater to modern travelers, seamlessly merging luxury and convenience for a better overall experience.

Smart room features

Modern hotel designs incorporate a variety of advanced features in rooms to improve guest comfort and satisfaction. We discuss some of the most notable examples of smart room technology below:

  1. Controlled environment: some designer hotels have begun using AI-based systems for environmental controls. By learning patterns from previous guests, these systems can anticipate room temperature preferences, adjust lighting conditions or even suggest local attractions
  2. Smart mirrors: modern hotel design has embraced smart mirrors that offer personalized greetings, weather forecasts, news updates or traffic information while guests are getting ready for their day
  3. Voice-activated services: ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’ can now help you request additional towels, schedule wake-up calls or order room service without picking up a phone

Robotic services and automation

The advent of automation in recent years has influenced contemporary hotel designs too. By implementing robotic services and automation into their operations, establishments can further improve efficiency and customer service delivery. Among the more prominent applications are:

  1. Robotic concierge: offering round-the-clock assistance to guests, from providing directions in the establishment to answering inquiries about local attractions
  2. Automated cleaning: maintaining cleanliness standards in high-traffic lobby or restaurant areas with automated cleaning devices such as robotic vacuum cleaners
  3. Robot delivery system: some routine tasks such as delivering late-night snacks or extra pillows could be handled by robots navigating using floorplans programmed into their system

Hotel lobby design

Hotel lobby design
Vostok / Moment Via Getty Images

The lobby is perhaps one of the most important aspects of hotel design. This is the entry point for guests and an area that sets the tone for their entire stay. It’s vital to get this space right, as it’s often the first impression visitors have of your establishment.

Layout and furniture arrangement

The hotel lobby is usually the first part of the hotel that guests experience. Proper layout and furniture arrangement are vital for an inviting ambiance. Designs should incorporate:

  • Clear traffic flow: guiding guests to the reception and other areas with ease
  • Relaxation zones: creating comfort with clustered lounge furniture
  • Aesthetic comfort: balancing style and function with furniture inspired by the locale

Lighting and color scheme

There are two other pivotal factors affecting your hotel lobby aesthetic – lighting and color scheme. Designers need to factor in:

  • Varied illumination: warm lights create cozy areas, cool lights offer modernity and statement fixtures attract attention
  • Natural light optimization: for sustainability and as a feature of smart design and use of materials
  • Thoughtful night lighting: accentuate details without overpowering the space

Then there is color scheme unification and mood-setting, which needs to:

  • Tie zones together: select a scheme that coordinates diverse areas
  • Borrow insights from hospitality design: apply practical tips from design magazines and inspiration from appealing hotels

Restaurant and bar designs in hotels

The design of hotel restaurants and bars profoundly impacts guests’ experiences. Creating well-designed spaces that align with the hotel’s theme and encourages enjoyment is key.

Seating arrangements and décor

Effective seating and inviting décor plays a vital role in improving the dining environment, so designs should include:

  • Booths: offer privacy and intimacy
  • Indoor/outdoor seating: provide unique views based on location
  • High-top tables: ideal for casual bar conversations
  • Communal tables: encourage interaction, particularly among millennials

Décor options range from classic elegance to contemporary minimalism, for example:

  • Classic design: combines sophistication with coziness
  • Modern styles: caters to contemporary tastes with sleek lines
  • Themed style: sets the hotel apart with a distinct approach.

Lighting and music

Thoughtful lighting and music choices significantly influence the dining experience. Lighting options include:

  • Ambient lighting: comfortable illumination without shadows
  • Task lighting: positioned above tables for clear visibility
  • Mood lights: dimmers for adaptable ambiance
  • Statement pieces: chandeliers for dramatic emphasis

Music selection also impacts the atmosphere, so consider:

  • Upbeat genres: motivates staff efficiency during busy hours
  • Slower tunes: creates a relaxed evening ambiance
  • Curated playlists: builds rapport and encourages repeat diners through personalized preferences

How to learn about hotel design

Learning about hotel design and planning is a comprehensive process that involves understanding the various aspects of architecture, interior design, hospitality industry standards and practical considerations. The following steps will help you embark on this learning journey:

  • Start with research
  • Enroll in courses
  • Attend workshops and seminars
  • Build your professional network
  • Study hotels and case studies

If you want to learn all about hotel design, you should also aim to get some knowledge of the hospitality business. You can do this by studying for a hospitality degree at a world-renowned school.

Make an impact in hotel design

Whether you want to design and manage hotels or oversee the design of five-star luxury venues, our courses combine teaching from industry experts with opportunities to get experience and build essential professional networks.


Hotel design requires a de­licate balance betwe­en creating an inviting atmosphere and ensuring optimal functionality. Every ele­ment, from the overall archite­cture to specific details such as lighting, textiles and furniture must prioritize guest comfort and satisfaction.

If you’re inte­rested in pursuing a caree­r in hotel design and planning, it’s bene­ficial to gain experience­ and qualifications that specifically cater to the hospitality industry and provide an understanding of delivering exceptional customer experience. This will provide the valuable knowle­dge that can be the basis of a distinguished hotel design career. Whether you aspire­ to establish your own hotel or pursue a care­er as a designer or manage­r in the hospitality industry, staying informed about the late­st trends and aspects of hotel de­sign is important. You can do this by studying for a hospitality or hotel-related qualification at a renowned institution such as Les Roches.

Main Image:
Carlina Teteris/ Moment Via Getty Images