Small guestrooms emerge as trend in hotel design
Small guestrooms emerge as trend in hotel design
24 APRIL 2017 7:12 AM

Millennials particularly are attracted to the fun, energetic but smaller spaces being created by brands such as Moxy by Marriott and Tru by Hilton. 

Millennials continue to be a driving force of hotel design trends, with no indication of relinquishing their vast influence. In fact, comprising roughly 75 million people, by 2050 they will remain the largest generational group in the United States, making up 26% of our population. The newest demand for the hotel design landscape? Smaller guestrooms.

To accommodate these changing consumer preferences, we’re seeing a movement toward tiny guestrooms, which are well suited for dense, urban markets. Small guestrooms offer opportunities to accommodate more travelers, the ability to build on what would typically be considered too small of a lot, more space for experiential common areas, restaurants and bars, and the power to still command higher urban average daily rates.

Hotel companies are creating new brands that integrate smaller guestrooms into their designs, including Moxy by Marriott and Tru by Hilton. These boutique micro hotel concepts offer guests a fun and energetic place to work and play, affordable stay options without sacrificing style or comfort and a level of social consciousness that today’s consumers crave.

A fresh take on traditional design
The move to smaller guestrooms calls for more efficient design options. Architects and designers today must reinvent their traditional take on mainstay guestroom elements in favor of multi-purpose and collapsible furniture, built-in lighting and power, and smart design materials, colors and accessories that make the space appear and feel larger. What are some of the key elements we’re incorporating into this new guestroom footprint?

Less is more when it comes to furniture in small guestrooms. We’re using multi-functional furniture options that pull double duty—eliminating the traditional nightstand and instead making this area a “data touch point,” complete with multiple outlet types and an abundance of space to house electronics. Bed headboards are doubling as electronic charging stations with power outlets and built-in lighting that allow for easy access to key personal electronics and reading devices that our lives are increasingly dependent upon.

In traditional seating areas, we’re incorporating furniture with USB ports so travelers can charge their electronics in the furniture. Millwork built-ins are replacing traditional dressers or bureaus and are often used to double as a TV stand, a workspace or an additional storage space. Bathtubs are being phased out for glass shower enclosures. And open closet designs and peg walls are being incorporated into guestroom designs to maximize available wall space.

Hotel highlight: Marriott Moxy Hotel, Boston
The Marriott Moxy Hotel in Boston’s Theater District—a new hotel for which Group One Partners is the design architect and interior designer—is the first Moxy hotel to be built in Boston. Designed for millennials on-the-go, the 24-story Marriott Moxy Hotel will be comprised of 340 guestrooms at an average 180 square-feet. The hotel will be located in Boston’s vibrant and active Theater District on a previously vacant parcel that is exceptionally small—a challenge for many proposed developments, yet it lends itself to a Moxy hotel footprint. The hotel will feature a great deal of experiential and technology-driven embellishments like common work spaces and a rooftop bar.

This rendering of the exterior of the Moxy Hotel project in Boston, currently under construction, shows the small lot size which made the micro hotel attractive for this project. (Rendering: Group One Partners)

In the guestrooms, the most notable design shift is the distinctive peg wall—a standard Moxy design element. The peg wall replaces a traditional closet to allow guests to hang clothing from pegs. Collapsible furniture including chairs and side tables replaces customary stationary furniture. Traditional hotel desks are being swapped out for folding side tables and wall pockets are housing brochures and other room information that are typically placed on desks.

To help create an open and inviting environment, wall-mounted headboard lights are being incorporated to free up space and showcase a more streamlined design. Platform beds are being used to make the bed feel lighter. The depth in which the platform bed box recesses is larger than average to accommodate baggage storage. Motion-censored lighting is being incorporated under the bed for guest ease and in the spirit of a more streamlined design approach.

Shared and natural lighting is magnified throughout the room with light filtered through the corridor and bathroom into the room, making it feel and appear larger. The flooring is the same throughout the guestroom to enhance the feeling that the space is more expansive than a meager 180 square feet. The room colors selected are tonal and subdued to create a feeling of openness.

The result? A comfortable, smart and playful style—a truly unexpected urban oasis.

Tiny comfort spaces take over
The industry must continue to adapt to changing consumer needs and demands. With millennials continuing to drive hotel design trends, it’s essential to take into account their on-the-go, socially conscious and “need for experience” mentality. Smaller guestrooms is just one way to adjust to their changing preferences. There will no doubt be more hotel design evolutions on the horizon as this generation ages and matures in their preferences.

Harry Wheeler AIA, NCARB, LEED is a principal at Group One Partners, Inc., an award-winning hospitality design firm based in Boston that specializes in architectural, interior design, and purchasing services for hospitality properties. Wheeler is a registered architect in 10 states and a member of numerous architectural, lodging, and marketing associations. For more information visit or email Wheeler at

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1 Comment

  • DebB818 April 28, 2017 12:25 PM Reply

    A bit short-sighted. The Millennials are going to start having children and small rooms are not going to be what they are looking for.

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