InterContinental Beijing Beichen Hotel

InterContinental Beijing Beichen Hotel Lobby

Hospitality is one of the most exciting and challenging areas of specialization for interior designers.

It’s also highly competitive. So designers, architects and project managers working on hotel contracts need to always be in-the-know about current best practices, design trends and specialty products.

And aside from knowing the latest styles, you should also stay informed about constantly shifting guest expectations.

Below you’ll find a list of the best information resources focused on hospitality design.

(These were selected because they all have an emphasis on the design of hotels. While some web sites and magazines might focus more on restaurants, nightclubs, spas, etc., the organizations below primarily serve designers working on hotel projects.)

All offer very high quality content and the coverage of relevant topics is both broad and deep. With these resources, you can

  • learn more about your clients, their company culture and their needs
  • know what your competitors are up to
  • find new ideas and inspiration for your design work
  • discover the latest products and materials
  • develop your career

Along with the design work you do for client projects, budget some time every week to stay current with industry happenings. You’ll keep your creativity at peak performance and maintain a competitive edge.

And now, in no particular order, the list:

1. HotelDesigns is one of the longest running and most specialized web sites providing information for people working in hotel design. It was founded around 2001 by Patrick Goff, who worked many years in commercial interior design before launching the service and now serves as the Editor and main content producer. Patrick is assisted by Deputy Editor Lorraine Hakes.

Description from the web site: “ is an industry-leading ezine for hoteliers, designers and industry specialists on a global scale … With an average of 115,000 visits to the site each month, we believe we are the number one online magazine for news, reviews and where to find contract specialists for hotel projects.”

Content snapshot:

  • Industry News
  • Reviews and ‘mini-reviews’
  • How-to articles
  • Directory
  • Design Club (member program)
  • Guide to Hotel Design
  • Employment
  • Events
  • Ask the Experts
  • Company Profiles
  • Email newsletters

My favorite aspect of HotelDesigns is how they provide real-world reviews and analysis of hotel properties—with an emphasis on their design—and tie these into very helpful how-to material and explanations of best practices.

2. Hospitality Design (HD Magazine)

This magazine and its sister publications and trade shows are produced by one of the largest publishing groups with a hospitality focus—the amount of available information is vast and the topics are widely varied.

From their web site: “Hospitality Design is the leading publication and established web resource in the business. Providing comprehensive reporting on hotel industry news and exclusive coverage of the latest ecological-friendly green hotels and bar designs, HD Magazine keeps you updated on the latest hotel trends in technology and innovative ideas. From recent hotel renovations and openings to award-winning luxury hotels and hotel construction projects, HD Magazine keeps you informed on news that matters most to your hospitality business … Hospitality Design connects owners, operators, purchasing agents, designers, and architects involved in the design of hotels, resorts, restaurants, cruise ships, country clubs, night clubs, conference centers, spas, senior living facilities and all other hospitality-oriented projects.”

Content snapshot:

  • Printed and digital editions
  • Blog
  • Email newsletters
  • Product reviews/showcases
  • Project features
  • Industry news
  • Green design information
  • Awards
  • Interviews
  • Buyer’s Guide
  • Photo Gallery

Because they’re the largest content publisher, there’s valuable information for everyone working in the business. And—when it’s done well—you can even learn from the advertisements!

(With so much information from one source, the main challenge is sifting through it all to find the stuff you personally care about…)

Through its HD Network and Emerald Expositions, the publishers of HD Magazine also produce some of the industry’s largest trade shows: HD Expo, HD Americas and Hospitality Design Summit. I’ve attended these conferences and can attest to their quality and value.

3. NEWH – The Hospitality Industry Network

Headquartered in Shawano, Wisconsin, NEWH, Inc. was originally founded 1984 in Los Angeles as the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality. The organization has since grown to 24 chapters and regional groups with over 4,500 members worldwide. NEWH has developed into a leading organization within the hospitality industry. The current President of the NEWH Board of Directors is Trisha Poole, owner and President of Design Poole, Inc., a Florida-based design firm specializing in hospitality.

The main function of NEWH is networking between hoteliers, designers and suppliers. (And yes, men are welcome, too!) Education is also a priority, through scholarships and fundraising. NEWH has awarded over 3.4 million dollars in scholarship funds for design students. Also, the NEWH Career Network provides up-to-date job listings at successful and well-respected design firms, product supply companies and hotel businesses.

NEWH hosts a huge number of events throughout each year, and within each chapter: local meetups, regional expos, annual convention, etc.

From their web site: “NEWH is the premier networking resource for the hospitality industry, providing scholarships, education, leadership development, recognition of excellence, and business development opportunities. It’s about Scholarship, Education, and Business Networking. Members of NEWH, Inc. are professionals actively engaged in development, management/operations, architecture, communications, design, distribution, education, manufacturing, production, purchasing, and sales of the Hospitality, Foodservice, Senior Living and related industries.”

What I like most about NEWH is meeting people and making real-world connections. I also appreciate the group’s focus on doing good for the industry and helping young designers develop their careers.

If you’re working in hospitality—in any role or capacity—I highly recommend you consider joining NEWH, especially if there’s a chapter near where you live.

Disclosure: I have been a member of two NEWH chapters (UK and Rocky Mountain) and currently serve as the Publications Chair for NEWH UK.

4. Sleeper

Sleeper is one of my all-time favorite magazines (in any genre) and among hospitality publications it has few equals. The printed magazine is truly top-quality—an absolutely gorgeous publication. The articles are in-depth and informative and the photography is stellar. The companion web site and e-magazine are also very well produced. As a UK entity, Sleeper gives in-depth coverage to happenings in Britain and Europe, and also offers great stories about projects and people internationally. Sleeper is one of the most focused publications targeted at hospitality—especially upscale and luxury—and clearly knows its audience very well.

From their web site: “Sleeper is the international magazine for hotel design, development & architecture. … Sleeper is targeted at all those involved in hotel design, development and architecture on an international level. Sleeper is the only media brand to reach all the individuals and disciplines throughout the supply chain involved in the delivery of new hotel projects worldwide.”

5. Hotel Design

Recently underwent a major rebranding and redesign. The main focus of content is featuring hotel projects, especially renovations. Hotel Design provides fantastic visibility for the design firms and hotel properties featured in the magazine and web site.

Web content snapshot:

  • Projects
  • News
  • Products
  • Research – surveys etc. (partnership with Hotel Management)
  • Careers
  • Events
  • Biweekly Hotel Design newsletter

6. Boutique Design

Has an emphasis on smaller, independent, luxury properties and the people developing these projects. Boutique Design provides comprehensive, valuable coverage of one of the fastest growing segments in the hospitality industry.

From their web site: “Boutique Design profiles the designers creating inventive spaces in hospitality venues large and small, global and local. Our focus is not an industry segment or price point, but unique, forward-looking boutique and lifestyle projects that inspire trends and set edgier standards for guest spaces worldwide.”

Web site content snapshot:

  • Design Galleries
  • People
  • Business (mainly project finance, real estate deals, etc.)
  • Projects
  • Boutique Blog
  • Products
  • Events

Boutique Design also produce several key trade conventions: BD West, BDNY and Hospitality Match. (BDNY is one of my favorite hospitality trade shows.)

7. Hotel Business Design

Hotel Business Design has a different feel than the other publications listed above; maybe a bit more like a newspaper. It’s the sister publication to Hotel Business (which reports on management issues, finance, investment, real estate and business deals, etc.). The Design component presents recent projects, new products and features on people working in the industry.

Web site content snapshot:

  • Inspiration
  • Projects
  • Industry Info
  • Insight
  • Products
  • People

What I like most about Hotel Business Design is how their project features effectively detail the process behind the design decisions. They also talk a lot about trends, especially how product features and styles change over time.

8. Boutique Hotel News

If you’re working with upscale, independent hotel properties, you should spend some time on this web site. Boutique Hotel News features articles, video interviews, recorded events such as panel discussions, etc. They’re also building a comprehensive Supplier Directory. The regular email newsletters provide good coverage of current events and news from throughout the boutique segment.

From their web site: “Boutique Hotel News is the only online hotel news and networking resource for boutique and lifestyle properties. The boutique hotel sector is booming – both small independents and large multi-nationals are investing heavily to establish a presence in this exciting market.”

Boutique Hotel News is part of a group of affiliated properties that includes Serviced Apartment News and Serviced Apartment Summit; they also produce the annual Boutique and Lifestyle Hotel Summit.

BONUS #9 – Independent trade shows

By far, trade shows, expositions and conferences present some of the best opportunities to learn about the hospitality industry and make new connections. The most important trade shows are often produced or sponsored by publishers.

Although some of the best conventions happen in the US, there are several excellent offerings in the UK and a few in Europe.

Aside from the conferences listed above, you should also check out The Sleep Event and the Independent Hotel Show, both in the UK.

(Stay tuned—I’ll be covering the best hospitality trade shows in an upcoming article.)


Knowledge is power

Good industry intelligence can help you excel in your work. Keeping abreast of current events and news about people within hospitality will better position you and your design firm in the marketplace.

From traditional, printed magazines to social media and streaming video platforms, there are lots of ways to stay current with what’s happening in the world of hospitality design.

With so much available, it can sometimes be hard to digest all the information and turn it into actionable plans.

TIP: The best way to streamline your intake of online media is through aggregation and automation. Use a feed reader such as Feedly to collect the RSS feeds from the blogs you read most, and set up email filters for newsletters coming to your inbox. These two tactics save huge amounts of time by making it much easier to scan headlines to find stories and topics most useful for you.

Also, most all the above resources each maintain an active presence on social media. Follow your favorites and group the feeds into categories, such as with Twitter lists.

Next steps

Visit the web sites with links above and find the resources that are most valuable for you. Register for email newsletters, add links to your bookmarks, and save RSS feeds into your feed reader.

If you spend an hour or two each week checking the hospitality industry news—especially to learn what other designers are doing with the latest products and materials—you’ll see improvement throughout your design process.

PS—If there are other hotel design resources you recommend, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Thanks!

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