Guests still want fast and casual dining, which is why more hotels are moving toward food delivery and grab-and-go models while rethinking room service, according to industry designers.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hotel design in 2020, from a food-and-beverage viewpoint, is focused on guests’ needs for convenient food offerings, local cuisine experiences and blended restaurants and lobbies.
David Shove-Brown, principal and partner at design firm //3877, said this year, food-and-beverage design will focus more on “the bar and public spaces within a hotel.”
“We’re already seeing a lot of growth on the beverage side of the hotel guests’ F&B experience—many hotels are partnering with local breweries and distilleries, infusing the locale with exciting contextuality,” he said via email.
In 2020, guests still want local experiences that are sustainable, Lesley Hughes Wyman, principal and founder of MatchLine Design Group, said via email.
“Guests are wanting experiential dining and menus that bring thought to sustainable sourcing and hyper-local foods,” she said. “Our designs capture this by offering flexible seating groups with a more lounge-esque style mix of seating options, along with more display kitchens. These undefined areas create a more interactive atmosphere for special dining events, which provide guests with a feeling that is more exclusive and engaging rather than stuffy.”
There’s still a place for room service in the hotel space, but hoteliers need to focus on how guests want food delivered, and that starts with speed, sources said.
Brown said hotel owners and operators are embracing the food delivery model to maximize convenience for guests, which could apply to in-room dining.
“One thing that will save traditional in-room dining is prioritizing the delivery of in-room snacks and smaller grab-and-go, tapas-sized meals,” he said.
For hotels that do still offer room service, hoteliers need to think about where guests will be eating in the rooms to create a sense of place through design, Rick Marencic, design principal and studio leader at JCJ Architecture, said via email.
“It’s a question of ergonomics and proxemics,” he said. “How easy is it too navigate between the functions of eating, working and sleeping? As the desk will also function like a table, does it need to be round? If the room has a lounge chair, is there a large enough sled-base table at continental height that will comfortably accommodate eating a meal? For those that like to eat on the bed, is there ample space on the night stand, or is a tray available? Is there a refrigerator; is it easy to get to and ample in size? Is the trash can big enough for the waste packaging?”
Grab-and-go options and local cuisine can also translate to room service, Shay Lam, managing executive at TPG Architecture, said via email.
“With so many restaurants around, hotels can provide curated food offerings from the neighborhood but in a more traditional room service model—properly plated, brought to the room, so guests get the best of both,” he said.
Biophilic design, which connects guests with nature through natural elements such as plants incorporated inside a property, will continue to be strong in the hotel industry this year, as well as “thoughtful, sustainable sourcing of hyper-local foods and materials,” Wyman said.
“This also plays hand-in-hand to guests seeking out healthier food options and an increase in plant-based menu items. Warmer and higher-end finishes are replacing the colder, industrial elements, which in turn lends itself to a more casual and social atmosphere,” she said. “Bolder designs mixed with modern interpretations of traditional patterns come with menus that merge culinary themes, allowing for more layering of design details.”
As healthful eating is leaning more casual, fine dining “is trending to be more site-specific and less prevalent,” Marencic said.
“Fine dining will always be an important component of our culture, and has a place in the upper-upscale segment and in the gaming marketplace,” he said. “In a way, it is similar to couture fashion, as trends in eating trickle down-market. The cost of labor to operate a fine dining establishment is a leading contributor to the growth of the QSR (quick service restaurant) model.”