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Hotel trends: Big brands get in on the microhotel action

by | 02 Nov 2019 | News

A classic example of Moxy’s trendy yet tiny microhotel rooms. (Photo: Moxy Hotels)

Big brands like Hilton and Marriott are getting in on the microhotel action by pushing brands in this emerging segment and convincing guests with great design and functionality.

Big brands are going small by doubling down on the microhotel segment.

Generous rooms are being replaced by teeny pods and boxes, all in the name of lower prices.

We find out why this tiny trend is hitting the big time.

Small spaces, big experiences

Hotels today are moving more and more away from the traditional model towards an offering that is less about the guest room experience and more about the shared experience.

Today’s travellers, and millennials, in particular, are seeing less point in a sprawling hotel room where they will spend the least amount of time, and instead prefer thriving communal spaces and 24-hour fitness centres, where they can mingle and stay fit while they travel.

This focus on the communal experience has firmly thrust microhotels, or hotels with tiny rooms that appeal to investors, developers and the public because of their ability to offer a competitive price, into the international hospitality spotlight.

And it’s no longer boutique brands who have the monopoly on this market. Big name hotel groups also want a slice of the pie and are expanding their presence in this sector.

Rooms for guests, lobbies for locals

One of the big concepts for microhotels is to design the rooms for guests, but the lobbies for locals, explains Tripp McLaughlin, global head for Motto, a new brand of microhotels by Hilton.

This echoes the design approach of many such properties around the world. Moxy Hotels by Marriott has been offering guests expertly designed rooms that squeeze all the fun of a regular-sized guest room into a much smaller footprint.

Speaking about design innovations such as fold-out tables, back-to-back beds and luggage wall racks, “The efficiency of how they utilize the space is actually pretty optimal,” says Jing Yang, an NYU professor at the Tisch Center of Hospitality.

“It’s not like they’re sacrificing a lot of space, per se, but with the engineering and interior design, they’re able to pack a lot, even though usually the square footage of microhotels is half the size of a traditional hotel.”

Toni Stoeckl, global brand leader for Moxy Hotels, echoes this sentiment, saying, “The approach certainly was to find a way to create and optimize the design of a cosy, small-but-smart guest room, but really infuse it with a design that is filled with high-end finishes and allows you to personalize it.”

Destination by design

One of the big factors which allows microhotels to thrive is that they are in trendy, convenient locations with a lot going on around the hotel itself.

That way the property naturally slots into this buzzing environment and becomes part of it by having active social spaces on the lower floors and smaller rooms upstairs, so the “living” part is concentrated in communal areas.

Motto already has properties planned in desirable destinations such as Milan, Copenhagen Mexico City, as well as several key sites in the US.

“We can fit three Motto rooms in the same footprint as two Hampton rooms,” says Tripp McLaughlin. “It’s a little bit tiny. But what we’ve heard from owners is, number one, they like it, because they couldn’t make an 80-room Hampton work in the city centre of D.C. since it’s too expensive. But now if you’re looking at a 110-room Motto, it becomes more profitable for them.”


An Ikea affiliate has teamed up with Marriott International to develop a chain of hotels in the same affordable, compact, and stylish vein as the furniture store.


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