How hipster style is shaping hospitality design trends

by | Jul 17, 2017 | Design

As more hotel brands seek to capture the millennial market share, so-called “hipster” hotels are popping up all over.

There are hotels that use things in their designs like reclaimed wood, repurposed materials, retro or lightly used furniture, hotel bar menus with all locally-sourced foods and craft cocktails, as well as other touches such as twee patterns on interior room walls, hand-crafted old-fashioned room keys, and a front desk that is also a full-service lobby bar.

Many industry insiders see this sort of design as the future of the hotel business, particularly as older generations of travelers begin to have less spending power in the market. While there is some debate over the genesis of this trend, one possible source being discussed by those who are well-versed in global hospitality is a popular chain that was started in Seattle, called Ace Hotels.

Ace began life in the late 1990s, possessing at the time what was considered to be a pioneering design tactic, as well as a prominent respect for all things local, artisanal and sustainable. They collaborated with another Seattle-based entity – Dawson Design Associaties – to form their distinct creative aesthetic trimmings.

At the time, Ace Hotels was offering something wholly unique and hard to find—a hotel stay that was as interested in luxury as it was in locality, a property that did not strive for cookie cutter dependability, as so many large-scale destinations had in the past, but instead worked to create a unique experience, one that could only take place in the exact location where the hotel itself stood.

Nowadays, boutique hotels, as well as massive brands, all work hard during the design process to incorporate organic touches of their property’s histories, while also remaining responsible and sustainable with the materials and construction methods they use.

You can call them “hipster” hotels, as their influences are very much drawn from the generation and the styles of the groups of young people who have been labeled hipsters. Or, perhaps more accurately, you could call them successful business propositions that have a strong eye on the future of the business, plus also DJs in the lobby and artists in residence whose work is on sale and displayed throughout the property. These hotels hire local artisans to build them custom furniture and art, and they sometimes have seemingly wacky touches like swings in the lobbies and life-sized games. There is a distinct emphasis on public spaces where guests can come out of their rooms and congregate with other visitors. There are also things available like rental bikes, complete with bike-friendly maps to the city.

In other words, this is a vibrant trend that presents no end of design possibilities to the owners who embrace it. It’s also a trend that shows no sign of slowing down soon.

Ace Hotels has the following properties opening the next months:

Ace Hotel Chicago

Ace Hotel plans to build a hotel at 311 N. Morgan St. in Fulton Market, according to plans. The building is currently an old warehouse between West Fulton Market and the Metra railroad tracks, across the street from the Goggleplex at 1K Fulton.





Ace Hotel New York

The project involves the renovation of a 10-story building on the Bowery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The addition of three floors will transform the existing building into a new micro hotel.


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