Designers emphasise "community" in new lobby designs

Extract from Jena Tesse Fox's insightful article into how hotel lobbies and reception areas are evolving to be more than just a bank of check-in desks.


You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. As a guest’s first impression of a hotel’s interior, a lobby must immediately convey the property’s overall message—but the space must also be functional for checking in and out and comfortable for socializing.  

Guest demands are changing, and as technology makes reception and concierge desks increasingly obsolete, the entire thought process behind lobby design is changing as well. Instead of functionality, designers are now promoting community in their lobbies—in every sense of the word.

Sense of Space


Marriott’s Renaissance brand has been in a major renovation effort in recent years, and the team has used the opportunity to reimagine how all of the spaces are used. “The big focus of a lobby needs to be on the food & beverage experiences,” George Fleck, VP of global brand management and marketing for Westin, Renaissance and Le Meridien, said. “The first thing you should see when you walk in, ideally, is a really beautiful bar scene. The seating has been arranged to ensure there are communal seating opportunities and that there are intimate seating zones for more personal conversations.” 


The lobbies should also evoke the hotel’s location so that guests always have a sense of space. “You have great lighting, you have great scent, you have things happening that activate the space—from art installations to lighting and digital projections that change,” Fleck said of an ideal lobby space. Everything in the lobby, he added, should feel like it was selected more for comfort than beauty. 

“We take a very targeted approach to how we zone our lobbies to ensure that there's an orchestrated approach how guests can navigate—never really clean straight lines, but trying to create a bit of a meandering path so you can see and experience and feel all the different essential elements of each place,” Fleck said. “Of course, we offer the same functional elements that you find every hotel, but we ensure that, again, they are non-primary; they are supportive in functionality.”


Vicki Poulos, senior global brand director for Moxy Hotels, said that she has found a common demand from designers, guests and locals alike w