Sleep+Eat is the premier hospitality design event on the London calendar. For the first time ever, the event was held at Kensington Olympia, offering a chance to marvel at C. Howard Crane’s Victorian ironwork soaring over the bustle of designers, developers, and hoteliers moving throughout the hall. The Sleep+Eat trends provide the opportunity to identify the top trendmakers themselves.

New Emphasis on F&B and Revenue Generating Public Areas

This year, Sleep became Sleep+Eat, reflecting the growing importance of F&B areas in the hospitality scene and the equal part that exceptional design plays in the success of restaurants and bars. This is indicative of a broader trend in the hospitality, embodied by hotels such as The Ned, where the majority of the property revenue is generated by F&B. Urban hotels especially are opening their doors to the community and the public in an entirely new way. Providing amenities for non-guests, encouraging the newly flexible workforce to do business in their public areas, and ensuring fluid F&B areas that allow for a seamless transition from breakfast, to work meetings, to dinner and finally to a late-night crowd, are key aims requiring creative design. Ham Yard’s library, furnished with an Ultimate Library, is a great example of an open space that welcomes non-residents for meetings, relaxing, drinking and reading.

Design that Tells a Story

A favourite aspect of Sleep+Eat are the Sleep Sets, where four designers were selected to create hotel room sets, each exhibiting a particular theme. Essentially, these designers are asked to tell a story through their design, the same way they approach a new hotel project, through the client’s dream, the guest journey, or historical influence.

HBA’s Sleep set was on the first floor, and upon entering, the visitor was enveloped by beautiful creatures, sparkling crystals, natural materials and books telling the story of exploration. Pin Su, the HBA designer in charge of the Sleep Set, chose The Natural History Museum as their theme, and they crafted a Cabinet of Curiosities that also functioned as an inviting, comfortable, luxurious hotel room. Ultimate Library curated a collection of books that would complement the design and serve as “exhibits” to intrigue, educate and delight the visitors to the stand.

The bookshelves in the room were a true masterclass in decorating with books and objects, as both new and vintage books, all thematically relevant, were interspersed with terrariums, blocks of quartz and amethyst and curious instruments. The mix of stacks, spines out and the balance of objects was, in our opinion, perfect. The biggest challenge for the designers was keeping visitors from moving in.

No Gimmicks, Just the Basics Done Well

Continually changing technology can be bright, shiny and tempting, but market research seems to prove that guests don’t want gadgets and overly finicky light switches in their guest rooms. When it comes to technology, the all-important factor is reliable, fast wifi when they want it and the ability to disconnect when they don’t. When we travel, we often are seeking new patterns, new thought cycles, new habits, and putting down the phone or laptop allows for new ways of thinking to develop. Anticipate your guests needs by providing a stimulating, entertaining and inviting room book collection for when they want to restore, recharge and read.

The Human Element

While visitors to mid-range business travel hotels may welcome a mobile checkin/out, guest feedback repeatedly demonstrates that at the top level of the market, guests demand a high level of human interaction and personalisation. Ultimate Library are perfectly positioned to assist luxury properties in providing sophisticated personalisation as books are exceptional markers of personal taste. We have recently been working with Four Seasons to develop a guest books programme where we crafted a booklist based on their guests interests and various reasons for travelling. This selection of books is on hand for the Front of House staff to place in their guest rooms on arrival to mark a special visit, occasion or conversation they shared with the guest. We are always thinking of new ways that books can support the hotel’s goals for guest engagement.

More than Just a Room for the Night

A pervasive trend throughout the hall and the panel discussions was the need for hotels to meet their guests expectations for exceptional experiences. Thanks to Instagram, more and more hotels are reaching for ways to provide guests with that Insta moment, one that captures the look and feel of being in that hotel at that moment. Many suppliers in the hall were selling that “Wow” moment, from waterfall showers, to over-the-top luxury materials or technologies. But when the “Wow” only lasts a moment, the upper end of the market is looking for ways to create exceptional experiences that form lasting memories. These are often unusual amenities, such as hand-crafted thematic libraries, personal butlers, or signature spa treatments.