Airport hotels: A new approach

David Harte, interior designer at Dexter Moren Associates talks about latest trends in airport hotel design…

Airport hotels have progressively started to take a new direction, rather than just providing a convenient bed before an early flight, airport hotel owners and developers are looking at how design can create a distinctive experience and deliver an identity specific to the location.

Features of the new breed airport hotel:

Convenience is not a new philosophy- after all, airport hotels were born out of convenience. In-terminal hotels which double as check-in and security are taking this to a new level and afford the guest precious minutes of extra sleep before the red-eye. New technology allows guests to check in to their room from the plane and unlock their bedroom from their mobile- a valuable asset to the time-conscious traveller.

Airport hotels are paying attention to this trend by enhancing their lounge and F&B offer to attract guests to stay longer and save them the discomfort of the departures lounge bench. Canteen M at Citizen M at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam is open 24/7 for breakfast lunch and dinner whatever the time of day.

The neighbourhood story gives the previously vanilla airport hotel a more interesting and informed identity, making it stand out from the crowd. It is not enough to hang pictures of Concorde on the wall. At the recently redesigned Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express next to Aberdeen Airport, our design was directly inspired by the surrounding seascape and hills and by Aberdeen’s local industrial and cultural heritage.

Hotels are turning to small spa facilities, luxurious showers, quality linen and premium toiletries to refresh and revive their guests, all day and night; providing a calming oasis after the energetic airport.

Adding high-quality, contemporary and characterful conference spaces with up-to-date technology attracts local and international businesses, bored with the nearest hourly-rent, bland, beige meetings boxes.

Rather than merely acting as the mediocre and traditional stepping stone for guests travelling en route to a destination, airport hotels have the lucrative opportunity to upgrade and evolve their offer to become a destination hotel. Embracing this fresh, contextual design-led approach and expanding upon facilities will inevitably attract a broader clientele base – and in turn will help push airport hotels forward into the next generation of airport hospitality.