By Susanne Balthasar

The hotel becomes a travel destination: Atlantis the Palm in Dubai is a world of autonomous luxury. (IMAGO / agefotostock)

Because of Corona, hotels around the world have had to close: for months or even permanently. The question arises as to what the future of the industry will look like. Hoteliers and futurists speak of places where spending the night is almost a minor matter.

The hotel of the future can fly. Or swim. Hotel rooms could be modules, for example containers, which dock only on the hotel’s mother ship. All this already exists – in the projects of architects. And a space hotel is also coming up – Voyager Station is accepting reservations for 2027.

Atlantis the Palm already exists, a hotel on an artificial palm-shaped island facing Dubai. It’s a self-contained luxury world with restaurants, shopping malls, an aquatic world, and an aquarium.

The hostel becomes the real travel destination

The idea that a hotel is only there for sleeping is completely outdated, says Tristan Horx of the Wiener Zukunftsinstitut: “A hotel that was actually only there for sitting. from the hotel as quickly as possible, enjoy the surroundings again – and maybe go back to sleep in the evening. One of the theses is that hotels are also becoming destinations. “

The hotel itself is increasingly becoming the travel destination. Houses like The Palm are a world apart. Others bring in the world, such as the Berlin branch of the 25 Hours channel. Berliners also flock to the hotel’s Monkey Bar and the Neni restaurant.

Hotel manager Francesca Schiani explains: “For example, a lot of people don’t even know that we are also a hotel, because the Monkey Bar, the Neni, have become completely separate brands.

The restaurant and bar float on the tenth floor, with a panoramic view of the lion cages in the zoological garden. In Neni, the guests are seated in a sort of huge greenhouse. In front of the sky windows of the Monkey Bar, people stretch out on cushions. Local and foreign guests often wait in long lines at the bottom of the elevator.

Service and offers for the neighborhood

Other hotels become service centers for the neighborhood, where you can do laundry or book spa treatments. This makes them more resistant to crises. For Christoph Hoffmann, co-founder of the 25 Hours chain, the hotel principle is infinitely evolving.

The hotel could also be a retirement home. “A place maybe as attractive as a hotel you knew when you were 30 or 40 years old, with a good restaurant, with a nice bar, with a bookstore, with a florist. Everything you also need locally,” he explains.

“At the top, I have a unit for myself or for me and my wife that I can hire, but also get the support I need as I get older, permanently and at the same time. A huge problem for me. “

Special places where relationships grow

Even for short stays, hotel guests aren’t looking for vacation decor, but something they can relate to. This is what futurist Tristan Horx calls resonance tourism. He describes what happens to such goals as follows: “You want to resonate with this place, the local people and nature, that is, resonate. “

A few examples: The eco-luxury Sadi Cove Wilderness Lodge in Alaska offers driftwood accommodation and a tree is planted for each visitor. In the Papya Playa project in Tulum, Mexico, a Mayan shaman and an energy healer look after the health of vacationers. The 25 Hours is located in a Berlin architectural monument, the Bikini House.

The 25 Hours in Berlin: Many other hoteliers would not have dared to rethink the office building, explains Francesca Schiani, director. (images imago / Reiner Zensen)

Director Francesca Schiani again: “It is a listed building from the 1960s. Before opening a hotel, there were offices here. It was a very dilapidated building. Usual recording atmosphere. “

Welcome to the “Urban Jungle”

There is no reception on the ground floor, but an elevator. The customer only enters the hotel on the third floor. In the hall there are sofas next to the workstations with computers, further on there are meeting rooms.

Travel and work are one thing here, the hotel is a place for networking, but the atmosphere is always relaxed. There are hammocks and plants hanging everywhere, and the bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the zoo.

In the morning, the monkeys cry while they are being fed. Welcome to the “Urban Jungle”. The 25 Hours is a resonant hotel that skillfully levels out the background noise of impressions.

Others rely on digitization and technology. In Japan, of course, the first robotic hotel opened in 2015. However, half of the robots were later made redundant and replaced by humans.

Digital solutions that make sense

The Vienna Hotel Schani is digitally ahead. Here, customers check in from home using the app. Hotel owner Benedikt Komarek explains that anything is possible: “You can choose your room individually, that is, on which floor, at what exact location – on a map.”

Guests receive the key on their smartphone on the day of arrival as soon as their room is available. “When you arrive you can take the elevator upstairs, go to your room and use your cell phone to open the door.” Instead of a reception desk, the Schani has a bar.

This is how digitization takes on its full meaning, says Tristan Horx of the Wiener Zukunftsinstitut: “Anything that has a high level of redundancy or large mountains of data that was previously captured in one way or another with the handwriting in some files, everything can be digitized. “

The time saved creates space and energy “for human encounters”, he explains.

“The ideal hotel is a space for experiences”

And that’s the essence of the hotel in the end, explains Christoph Hoffmann, who also writes a hotel column for Geo “Saison-Magazin”.

Hotels have always been meeting places, for example for literary encounters, he says.

“During World War II, hotels also became places of exiles who met to reflect together. In hotels, people threw themselves off the balcony, like Klaus Mann. In parallel, you also have piano evenings or by the fireside. From evenings that are completely new great things have emerged. In this respect, for me the ideal hotel is an experience room. “

The pandemic forces new concepts

And then all the hotels were closed because of Corona. No one knows how things are going to turn out. Here are some forecasts: Many hotels will close, especially where there is overcapacity, in Berlin for example.

New hotels are emerging. The Fraunhofer Institute recommends flexible chambers and a dismantling plan – just in case. Business hotels must change to compensate for the drop in attendance.

In 25 hours you have experienced a long stay during Corona. Students could rent entire months for less. Exhausted parents came to the hotel office daily. As the world changes, hotels change too.