This month saw the opening of ME London,the flagship UK property for Meliá Hotels International (scroll down for gallery). The triangular site on Aldwych crescent is the first hotel project for architectural firm Foster & Partners - a company more used to designing the likes of The Gherkin and Beijing Airport.
But it is ME London's innovative design features that have made it unique and given it a point of difference among its competitors. Is this a sign of where things are heading? This BigHospitality podcast reveals all.
Last week we headed to the Business Design Centre in London; to the Sleep Hotel Design & Development Conference which saw Europe's hotel design community come together for a series of seminars, panel discussions and exhibitions.
At the show we met Javier Hortal, project leader for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. For the group’s hotel in Hyde Park, Hortal explained that the architecture and design are crucial in reinforcing the high-end and sophisticated ethos of the Mandarin Oriental brand.
We then spoke with Conrad Smith, managing director of ReardonSmith Architects who work with an array of big-name operators in the UK including Accor, Hilton and De Vere. Smith told us he was pleased to see more people like Hortal from Mandarin Oriental realising the rewards that a well-designed hotel can bring.
Nick Halliday, chief executive of Brownsword Hotels, agreed that design is important for a modern-day brand to be successful, but he was also quick to point out that outsourcing this design 'innovation' to an external firm isn't always the first port of call. In fact, the Brownsword currently has a big influence over the design of its hotels - something which Halliday believes makes each property even more unique.
The podcast concludes with a look into the future; will this reliance on unique architecture and eye-catching design continue to take hold of the hotel sector, and will these terms 'design-led', 'boutique' and 'luxury' become an industry standard? Where will the next great hotel design innovation come from?
GALLERY: 10 of the best...
Want to take a look at some of the latest design-led luxury hotel openings? Here's 10 recently launched properties in London which showcase why the capital currently stakes claim to being the 'pinnacle' of hotel design in Europe. (Click on the images for a news story related to each hotel).
For more information on the Sleep Design Conference, visit www.thesleepevent.com.