26.06.2017 13:46

Exceeding expectations

A comfortable hotel stay is a major part of any travel experience – and the hospitality industry is well aware of this. From the elevator music to the furniture style they choose, hotels are constantly trying to keep up with trends and fine-tune their offering to match demand. But now we are seeing something new: the trends currently emerging in the hotel industry are taking the hospitality experience to a whole new level.

One of the first trends I have noticed lately are hotels that aim to be something like an upgraded version of your home, offering comforts such as better beds or fancier sheets. IKEA is one of the major players embracing this home-like hotel trend with their newly opened hotel in Sweden, where visitors get a room key, a wrench, and a box of bed components you assemble before going to sleep – perhaps not the most comfortable option, but a memorable experience at any rate. IKEA is not the only one, either. 

On the other side of the world, Japanese lifestyle brand Muji is expanding into the hospitality business and will open their first theme hotel in Beijing later this year. 

Another major trend of the moment is creative matchmaking of restaurants and hotels. The best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had was at PM & Vänner, a small-town hotel in Växjö, Sweden. They served amazing eggs and bacon, dried foraged mushrooms, local yoghurt with fresh granola, and lingonberries from the forest. This new hotel is the first gourmet hotel founded by a chef and restaurateur in my home country. Internationally, too, we are seeing restaurateurs launching new hotel and hospitality concepts, such as New York-based Spotted Pig. It’s all about collaboration. If anyone can make you feel special, then it is the person who serves you the perfect poke bowl – like Wolfgang Puck and Four Seasons New York or the Flemings hotel group, which now collaborates with Michelin-starred Ormer by Shaun Rankin

I’ve also noticed that the “everything local” trend is making its mark on the hotel industry. Hotels are today doing their best to attract the young, trendy crowd to hang out in the hotel’s public spaces. Free Wi-Fi is mandatory, but complimentary coffee is another good trick. Instead of hotel staff quizzing drop-ins for their room number, today the line is “Welcome, local, perhaps you would like to stay for afternoon tea?” At Six, a newly opened hotel in Stockholm, locals are invited to play their own music or read poetry at the bar.

One of my favorite new trends is a spinoff of the sharing economy. Marking the next new thing in hospitality, Airbnb launched a service called Trips, enabling you to book a local guide via the app. And just as Airbnb challenged the hospitality industry by offering something extremely local, these guided tours also challenge the way you look at a city. You can for instance book Trendstefan for a two-hour tour of the best design spots in Stockholm, or book a local mum to show you the city’s best playgrounds. I find this idea super cool, and I’m sure we will see much more of this in the future. I for one would love to book a guided bike tour and spa experience in Seoul next time I go there. 

Stefan Nilsson is a Stockholm-based trend hunter and a columnist for Blue Wings. Best known for his blog Trendstefan, he is also the owner of Designgalleriet and head of the Designbloggarna blog network. Check out his YouTube channel Trendstefan TV as well as his Instagram account: @trendstefan

This article was originally published in Finnair's Blue Wings magazine (Summer 2017).

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