A while back we reported on a Chicago bar and grill that was becoming kind of like a mini hotel. We also made note that some Starbucks were trying to be more like a tavern. Now we’re seeing a more widespread trend that finds hotel lobbies becoming more like Starbucks.
To meet guests’ changing tastes and lifestyle, many hotel chains are today retrofitting their lobbies to look more like a contemporary coffee house or café. Chains such as Hyatt and Marriott are making this effort to get travelers to linger a bit in the lobby and enjoy a latte or other hip beverage, and perhaps a light snack.
As reported in a story for WSJ.com by Julie Jargon and Alexandra Berzon, sneeze-guard breakfast buffets and cafeteria-style seating are out. Espresso machines, sleek bars and Wi-Fi are in. Hotel occupancy rates are still down significantly as the economic recovery remains stalled. Generating additional food and beverage sales is one way to bolster revenues while holding the line on room rates.
Hotels are also trying to make their hotel lobbies more stylish and welcoming, hoping to lure area workers to stop by after work for a beverage and some socializing with colleagues and friends. Boutique hotels in New York have been doing this for years, and now the trend is spreading to mid-tier brands.
Some of the hotels embracing the trend more recently include the Royalton Hotel in New York, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco and Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving, Texas.
Quoted in a story for USA Today by Roger Yu and Barbara De Lollis, CB5 Restaurant Group’s Jody Pennette commented, “The energy (hotels are) seeking is that of a cocktail party.” In addition to the trendy coffee beverages, Pennette says you’re likely to find finger foods and appetizers—things like ceviche, Panini, tapas, calamari, and cheese plates.
The Wyndham hotel chain calls its new lobby café the “ERL Café” for Eat, Refresh and Live. It’s fashioned to be “Starbucks-like” but with more food choices, such as pizza, hot and cold sandwiches, pastries, and salads.