Hotel News Now: What is the most innovative hotel design in the world?
Scott P. Rosenberg, president of Jonathan Nehmer + Associates: “The Yotel New York. This hotel is innovative because it has amazingly small yet somehow spacious 10 foot by 17 foot guestrooms that first caught my eye. This guestroom works really well. There is no space wasted and a place to put, charge and find my belongings.
“Then, over my several stays, I experienced really interesting arrival experiences; flexible public spaces, meeting spaces and F&B concept; plus the largest NYC outdoor roof patio. I was hooked as an architect/designer and as a guest.
“Yotel New York learns from the best ideas and efficiencies of its predecessors, and brings in elements from aircrafts, cruise ships, railroad cabins and airport sleep pods.”
HNN: What makes its design so innovative and influential?
Rosenberg: “Yotel is the successful experiment that breaks the rules of the classic thinking that room bays had to be at least 12 feet wide in order to work. It has a bed that automatically folds up to be a lounge/sofa during the day and then lies flat in the evening. The bathroom is placed near the exterior of the building instead of along the interior corridor to give a very open and refreshing experience with natural light and a great monsoon shower.
“While the rooms are intended for sleep, it is comfortable to work in bed or at the small desk, watch TV, and even spread out and relax.
“The innovations begin from the moment you self-check-in at the first floor lobby kiosks, print your own room key, and use the robotic arm luggage concierge that carefully places your luggage safely away in a glass. The public space is comfortable, well-designed and simple with a completely flexible set up. The space is surrounded by glass rooms with a variety of furnishings to double as meeting rooms or for social events.
“The breakfast area and interior bar are warm and comfortable for breakfast or quiet work. From there you reach a contemporary restaurant space where at night the tables retract into the floor and become an open, event floor. The comfortable yet modern roof terrace is ready for you to sip your coffee in the morning at sunrise and chill with a cocktail at sunset.”
HNN: Have you seen its influence play out in other properties?
Rosenberg: “Yotel has influenced independent and boutique hotels to let people know that it is acceptable to have a smaller room size as long as the public spaces make up for it. It also opened other developers and hoteliers to see that smaller rooms could be marketed to the seasoned traveler or appeal to the millennial looking to experience a city and not stay in their room. This allows other property types such as old warehouses and office buildings to be explored for possible hotel use, where they may have been eliminated in the past.
“Other developers have made the guestrooms even smaller than the Yotel now that they know they can, where before they wouldn’t have even thought to try. The forces of expensive land and a competitive marketplace make this combination of small rooms and large public areas a very appealing investment strategy.”
HNN: How does the hotel’s design enhance the overall guest experience?
Rosenberg: “While the Yotel is not for everyone’s taste, you always feel a little surprised by the balance of quiet and loud, warm and cool, and day and night that comes with staying here.
“They call themselves an affordable luxury hotel. It’s a very interesting mid-range niche that doesn’t seem to fit in any one tier or market segment. It’s edgy, but not too much. It’s rich, but not too rich. You can work and you can relax. You can dance and you can sleep. The room is small, but not too small.
“The staff complements the design by being sincerely there to make you feel welcome without being annoyingly over-the-top happy to see you. If you’ve never been to this hotel, you must experience it.”
HNN: How does the hotel’s design speak to the era of hospitality in which it was built?
Rosenberg: “The summary of this era is evident with guestrooms, clean materials and a good bath experience. Hotels in this era are trending toward larger, multi-faceted public spaces with beverage and food that is here to stay. The Yotel appeals to millennials and may even attract the younger-minded baby boomers.
“As the modern traveler says, ‘We all just want a comfortable chair, a good cup of coffee and free Wi-Fi.’ Even as trends come and go, Yotel has the bones and story to stay relevant and to inspire us for decades to come.”
Scott P. Rosenberg, AIA, LEED AP is a licensed Architect with more than 25 years of experience in architecture and real estate development-related fields. His design experience includes hotels, restaurants, and mixed use projects. His design philosophy focuses on the whole picture, bringing his clients’ real estate development, investment, management, and construction goals into perspective, with the goal of having a practical design that adds value to projects. His firms Jonathan Nehmer + Assoc. and HVS Design provide architecture, interior design and project management services for the hospitalty industry. Scott can be reached at 301.670.1635 or firstname.lastname@example.org.