Boutique Hotel and Trip Trends for 2014
Boutique hotel experts Mr. & Mrs. Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com) have announced their predictions for 10 of the top accommodation and travel trends to watch for this year.
1. Local Life
Hotels are helping guests get to know the locals or at least get to grips with the local scene. Budapest boutique hotel Brody House champions the city's artistic energy, holding exhibitions, readings and other cultural events for guests.
Rooms are named after the local artists whose works decorate walls, staff abounds with hot tips on what to do in the area and the hotel even has its own record label, Brody House Sounds.
Stay at Claska in Tokyo and you'll see the city's best-dressed canines (and owners) pop by for a pooch-pampering treatment at the doggy beauty salon downstairs. Claska also has a gallery, boutique and lively bar, as well as a series of arty events held on the hotel's rooftop terrace.
Beyond boutique bedrooms, there's a string of services promising instant immersion with the locals - Eat With, for example, which hooks up hungry visitors with hosts happy to cook dinner for guests in their own homes.
2. Sleep Swamis
The best hotels have been offering guests access to personal chefs, personal trainers and health and well-being gurus for years. Now some hotels are going the extra mile to ensure that guests even have a fabulous time while they're asleep.
Anantara Kihavah Villas in the Maldives has a slumber guru responsible for making sure that guests get a restful night. The slumber guru's bag of tricks includes soothing milk baths, relaxing massages and a pillow menu.
Alila Villas also takes sleep very seriously. Both Alila Villas Uluwatu and Alila Villas Soori have a pillow menu, a selection of essential oils and scented candles up their (pyjama) sleeve.
3. Seriously Social
Like it? Tweet it. Seen it? Instagram it. The social-media savvy are here to stay and hotels are getting wise to marketing via mobile - so much so, in fact, that some have even been built specifically with social in mind.
Take 1888 Hotel in Sydney, whose design was mapped out to maximize its Instagram-ability, and some of the Melia group hotels, where specialist concierges respond to guest requests via Twitter.
We think hotels are going to get even more switched on to social in 2014 and beyond...
4. Family Affair
Travelling with children in tow doesn't have to mean compromising on style and service. Mr & Mrs Smith's new site, Smith & Family, puts family travel first. Hotels are picking up on the trend, too.
A great example is Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain in China (set to open in 2014), which has village-style accommodation that works well for families, an excellent kids club and a panda research centre just 10 minutes away where you can interact with panda bears and their cubs.
Etihad is even introducing a Flying Nannies service on long-haul flights, with their nannies (specially trained cabin crew members) accredited by Norland, Britain's leading childcare training college.
On the other hand, Scoot, Singapore Airlines and AirAsia X now offer child-free zones on some flights. (READ MORE)