Features

Travel trends: Cities and hotels of the future

2 Feb 2020 by Hannah Brandler
Guestline Hotel Room 2034

Technology and environmental concerns are likely to revolutionise travel in the decades to come. Here are some of the ideas that may shape hotels and cities of the future.

First things first, what will become of hotel façades?

Villeroy and Boch’s ‘The Hotel of the Future’ study suggests that intelligent materials which react to the immediate environment will be used to protect buildings from adverse weather – these include weather-sensitive wood and solar-active concrete walls. Hilton’s forward-looking ‘Checking into 2119: The Future of Hospitality’ report adds that resilient graphene will be used to absorb the impact from hailstones and repurposed to power the building.

Hotels will also begin to use their façades to produce goods, in turn minimising the environmental impact of sourcing materials. Samsung’s ‘KX5: The Future of Focus’ report predicts that hotels will have living walls clad in algae, so as to be cultured for biofuels, while hydroponic farming – growing plants without soil – will become the norm on the exterior of vertical buildings.

Connectic by Cooper Carry Architects

Mobile hotels

The first consideration for every property you book is its location, but what if the hotel could move to where you really wanted it? Cooper Carry Architects won 2019’s Radical Innovation Design Award for Hospitality for its “Connectic” concept (pictured above). The octahedral structure can be installed anywhere – for example, for temporary use in a park or green space, attached to an existing building or filling a space between buildings.

Students Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin won the student category for their “Rooftop Hotel Gardens” design – metallic and glass modules allowing additional rooms with great skyline views (see below).

Rooftop Hotel Gardens

Design studio Aprilli has designed an “autonomous travel suite” (below) that blurs driverless transport with a hotel room – the car has sleep, work and bathroom facilities so you can be productive on your journey. Aprilli views it as a competitive option to air and rail travel, as it removes the need for a secondary means of transportation. The suites are designed to be able to dock on to existing infrastructure at a hotel, giving guests access to public facilities including dining areas, gyms and meeting rooms.

Autonomous Travel Suite

New environments

According to the World Economic Forum, over 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities in ten years time, so something’s going to have to change to accommodate all these individuals.

With 90 per cent of the world’s largest cities exposed to rising seas by 2050, Oceanix has designed the first sustainable floating city (see below) for 10,000 residents. The flood- and storm-proof habitat of six neighbourhoods is located around a protected central habitat, with communal farming. Buildings made from locally sourced materials can be moved to more suitable locations when weather demands.

At the same time, we’ll also dig deeper. In Samsung’s report, Professor Dale Russell predicts the arrival of earthscrapers (inverted skyscrapers) to save space in ever more crowded metropolises.

Oceanix/Big-Bjarke Ingels Group

Virtual reality

Will we even need to travel in the future? VR will become commonplace in hospitality and work environments. Sensory equipment means hotel rooms will be able to provide whatever view you desire – a beach or a city, depending on your mood – or you could have a staycation, escaping reality via a headset. Meetings will take place in a virtual reality workplace to reduce a company’s carbon footprint, manufacturers will use VR to allow people to test-drive an experience, and airlines will provide onboard immersive experiences.

iStock/Aksonov

Biometrics and AI

You’ll pay for your hotel using fingerprints, iris scans and facial recognition, as well as unlock room doors, according to Oracle Hospitality’s report ‘Hotel 2025’. Sound scary? Well, Yotel asked travellers what they envisioned in hotels in 2050 and 88 per cent favoured facial recognition for room access.

Voice commands are expected to regulate lighting, air con and heating in hotel rooms, according to hotel operations software company Guestline, and smart showers will detect the optimal temperature by registering the heat levels from a guest’s touch (see below). Yotel also found that travellers expect AI-assisted beds in the future, which morph to fit the sleeper’s body shape and sense sleep cycles, and retract when not in use.

Guestline Shower Technology

Clear vision

Guestline predicts the widespread integration of glass walls that can double as voice-controlled TVs or become digital wallpaper. In Yotel’s survey of 2,000 UK travellers, 72 per cent said they expected hotels to have hyper-integrated walls with interactive smart mirrors by 2050.

Bathrooms will also be clad in glass, although a simple voice command will make them opaque when you’re looking for privacy.

Yotel 2050

In-room dining

Will we still be ordering room service? Hotels will continue to source food seasonally, and grow as much as possible on-site. Rooms might also be equipped with 3D printers, fulfilling guest’s cravings without the need to call reception to order room service.

Guestline also predicts that coffee machines will use biometrics to create the perfect cuppa with the right caffeine strength for guests, and this could extend to further food preferences. With a rise in mindful drinking, minibars might even replace travel-sized spirits with nutritional juices and drinks high in antioxidants.

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