With Directors Peter Newman-Earp and Nik Clarke

Hotel architects and directors at Morrison Design, Peter Newman-Earp and Nik Clarke, share their wisdom on the future of hotel architecture.

How long have Morrison Design been experts in hotel design and build?

Peter: “We’ve been working on hotel projects since the 70’s so around 50 years now! Between us Directors alone we have over 63 years of experience – and many of our team have been here for a long time as well.”

Nik: “It’s great to be in a position where we can pass down the wisdom and experience to our newer team members and those who are early in their careers.”

Directors Peter Newman-Earp (left) and Nik Clarke (right)

What trends have you seen over the years?

Peter: “The relationship between the hotel lobby and the bedrooms has changed. Years ago, the hotel lobby wasn’t as important and the bedrooms were the main focus. Whilst the bedrooms are still crucial, there’s much more emphasis on the first guest impression and communal areas of the hotel. The quality of the bar, rest spaces and food offerings has improved dramatically as clients aim to increase their revenue by encouraging both guests and non-guests to spend more time in the hotel.”

Nik: “The emergence of review sites such as Tripadvisor has contributed to guest expectations been higher than ever before and the spaces reflect that. The cycle of bedroom refurbishment is shorter as clients continue to invest in attracting guests.”

Peter: “There’s also a resurgence of more brands back into the market. Guests still want a unique experience and many brands have moved away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach, creating more interesting and distinct hotels. The 100 Queen’s Gate Hotel in London which is a Curio Collection By Hilton property is a great example.”

Victorian Hotel Design Architect
100 Queen’s Gate Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

What’s happening in the sector right now?

Nik: “Sustainability is, of course, a huge topic. Hotels are procuring more local sustainable produce and this extends to any building and refurbishment work. We use eco-friendly materials and methods wherever possible.”

Peter: “Luxury at affordable prices is being demanded by guests. Gone are the days of people being happy with boring, bland hotels. Everyone wants a little piece of luxury. For us, that means being clever with our designs, colours and materials.”

Nik: “Budget hotels are big business at the moment and again, they’re improving and refurbishing to meet guest expectations. Our latest Point A project in Dublin is a great example – we’ve created compact, boutique rooms at affordable prices.”

Peter: “On the flip side, high end luxury is also booming as post-COVID travel continues to ramp up. More affluent guests want the best hotel experiences possible. We look forward to the completion of our Westbury Hotel project which serves that exact purpose.”

The Westbury Hotel, London

What are the challenges facing hotel construction/refurbishment and how can they be overcome?

Nik: “Contractors are extremely busy as lots of clients catch up on refurbishments post COVID. Luckily, we’ve got fantastic, long-standing relationships with many of our contractors which helps ease the pressure. It’s never been more important to build trusted partnerships.”

Peter: “Like everything, material prices and lead-times have increased dramatically post COVID and Brexit, which can impact the availability and cost of projects. To combat cost increases and delays you have to be clever about what you detail – fortunately we’ve been designing hotels for a long time so we know our stuff!”

Nik: “Sustainability in construction is, of course, a huge topic at the moment – and one which isn’t going away. We can support our clients to build more planet friendly projects through specifying materials which last longer and are more sustainable to produce. We can also design for the future – ensuring our designs won’t quickly go out of trend and need to be updated or replaced. Morley Hayes, a local leisure complex, is a great example of how high quality materials and classic designs can be used to stand the test of time.”

What are clients asking for?

Peter: “Clients are, of course, always looking at ways to maximise revenues in their spaces. There’s been a huge focus on food and beverage – ensuring the restaurant and bars are spaces that both guests and non-guests want to spend their time (and money) in. The menus are not as fussy as they used to be but there’s a focus on good, high-quality food.”

Nik: “Yes, I agree with Peter – maximising the space as much as possible is essential. Our recent project, Point A Hotel in Dublin, is a great example. Point A originally had plans for 95 guest rooms, but we completely reinvented the scheme, producing 141 rooms in total.”

Morley Hayes Hotel, Derbyshire

What are guests demanding from the spaces they stay?

Peter: “In luxury hotels, guests are demanding more space – there are a higher proportion of suites in our more recent schemes such as The Westbury. Social media has had a big impact – guests are seeing amazing hotels around the world and everyone wants to stay in the best space possible.”

Nik: “Guests on lower budgets still want to stay in more stylish spaces. Gone are the days of plain, boring rooms! Brands such as Point A are designing with that in mind.”

What do you see changing in the future? 

Peter: “With sustainability in mind, there will be more pressure to re-use existing buildings rather build new. We can already see this starting to happen.”

Nik: “There will be more communal spaces rather than just the main lobby. For example, in New York, some hotels have created spaces for a set of rooms to share. This is ideal for groups of friends of family travelling together – having a space where they can relax and enjoy each other’s company.”

Peter: “Over the last couple of years there’s been a huge upsurge in co-working spaces as the world has shifted to more people remote working. Hotels are ideally placed to house these spaces, not only for those who are travelling for work but also for the local community who prefer to work outside of home.”

Nik: “Lots of chain hotels are making properties more individual to the locality. They’re immersing guests in the local area and telling the story through the interiors.”

Peter: “There will continue to be new technologies incorporated into hotels. From integrating social media, to blinds which open automatically when you enter a room – the possibilities are endless.”