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2012 Hotel Trends

Lobbies for Lingering, Affordable Luxury,
Sweet Suites and More!

The Eventi Suite at Eventi - A Kimpton Hotel in New York City

The Eventi Suite at Eventi in New York City

Hotel and Hospitality Trends for 2012

Hotels are ever-evolving creatures. The industry is testing what the oft-finicky tourism consumer likes and dislikes and, as a result gives and takes, reinvents and abandons. This is a good thing. Hotel innovation often means it's better for the environment, better for business and better for paying customers. In the end, everyone wins. Here are some hotel trends to sleep on.

Hang Out Lobbies

The living room in the lobby at the Public hotel in Chicago

The living room at the Public in Chicago

Lobbies are no longer just for checking in or asking the concierge for a recommendation. That is, if you're staying one of the four Ace Hotels (in Portland, Seattle, Palm Springs, New York City) or the Public in Chicago. These hotels have redefined the hotel lobby recently, making it living-room comfortable for the laptop crowd to surf the free Wi-Fi.  An in-lobby bar provides refreshments, and there's often even live musical entertainment for the guests and locals who make these hotel lobbies a regular spot. More hotels are opening up the bar, plying their guests with wine or Champagne to ease the pain of checking in.

Luxuriously Casual

Once upon a time there were two types of hotels: luxury and affordable (read: not very comfortable). But recently a new kid on the block has moved in. The luxury-seeming property, loaded with amenities and perks, flowing with friendly service, but easier on the wallet than the upper crust of hotel chains. Hotels like Andaz, Ace, and Eventi are helping to invent a new class of hotels, ones with free Wi-Fi and an extra dose of good service that will make you think you should be paying top dollar.

Suite Signatures

The Jaguar Suite at London's 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences

The Jaguar Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences

What makes a suite even sweeter? When it's a signature suite. We've recently seen hotels on both sides of the Atlantic create accommodations dedicated to automobiles.  The Jaguar Suite at London's 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences features slick wood paneling, leather and even a pollution-free fireplace that mimics the back window lines of a Jaguar. The design and decor of the Bentley Suite at the St. Regis New York reflect the British car company's unique aesthetic and heritage. Both of these perk-loaded living spaces — in-suite Champagne bar or personal butler, anyone? — also offer the use of the theme car to well-heeled guests. Celebrities have also put their signature on hotel rooms: the Hotel Triton in San Francisco runs the gamut from their Jerry Garcia Suite to their Kathy Griffin Suite, which is anything but a D-list room.

Free Wi-Fi!

The desk area of a guest room at the Ayres Hotel Anaheim

The desk area of a guest room at the Ayres Hotel Anaheim

What comes standard in a room has certainly changed through the years. In fact, there once was a time  when hotels charged for hot water. In a survey of hotel pet peeves, travel blog found that having to pay for Wi-Fi was the biggest complaint, beating out early housekeeping visits, no free breakfast, bad front desk service and even one-ply toilet paper. Free hotel Internet access is becoming more and more the norm. A number of affordable and mid-priced hotels are leading the way, leaving mostly luxury hotels in the lurch as Wi-Fi chargers (sorry business travelers with an expense account) which are sometimes bundled into resort fees. The days of paying $25 for Internet access are waning.

Fill 'er up, Please

A bathroom at the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills

A bathroom at the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills

The days of filling up your bathroom kit with little bottles of shampoo and conditioner right before checking out may soon be numbered. Aloft hotels, the Los Angeles SLS hotel and Robert DeNiro's Greenwich Hotel are using refillable shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap containers in guest room showers. A slew of hotels (including Acqua Hotel in Marin and the Maxwell Hotel in Seattle) have installed gallon-sized Tommy Bahama dispensers in showers. This green practice allows hotels to re-fill the shower soap and shampoo dispensers when they're running low instead of wasting lots of plastic containers. Which means everyone wins. Well, everyone except for tiny shampoo bottle collectors. But you can still take home the mints from the pillow!

(Updated: 01/14/13 SG)

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