This week, Mystery’s Dan Hinde and Laura Sinclair attended the Restaurant & Bar Design Talks at the incredible citizenM hotel, Tower of London. Their mission: To get the inside take on design and innovation within the hotel and hospitality industry and learn how citizenM is challenging industry standards within its hotels. 

Marco Rebora was joined by Robert Wagemans (Creative Director/Founder, Concrete Architectural Associates) and Robin Chadha (citizenM Global CMO).

Disruptive ambition

The citizenM brand is a true leader in the field and actively seeking to be a disruptor and shake up the hotel industry: Their aim has been to only ever offer one size of room to all guests, making the experience seamless and consistent, with an emphasis on transparency of costs. This goes right the way through from the room charges to the mini bar (which is left completely empty, instead with a guide on where you can purchase alcohol locally, to stock the bar yourself!). According to Robin, the citizenM client saves his money for enjoyment and pleasure…

“They arrive by train and drink champagne”!

We were very impressed with the in-room technology, which allows film streaming free of charge from an iPad, that also controls all room features.

A new style of building

From a design and build perspective, it was really interesting to hear about the complexities of modular-based building, where each room is built individually, down to the last toilet roll installation (all done off site in Poland), in comparison to fitting units within existing exoskeleton building structures. While modular building for residential homes has been growing in popularity for a number of years, this is something that citizenM is pioneering to ensure a small carbon footprint, less waste, and more efficiency.

Luxury for the wise not the wealthy

We loved hearing how citizenM manages to stick to one of their core values of ‘Luxury for the wise not the wealthy’, by simplifying their rooms and stripping back to the pure essentials, which are finished to the highest standard.  There is no shortage of style in this simplistic outlook. Everything is designed to give guests the utmost in stylish comfort and homeliness.

Originality and authenticity

The hotel only uses 100% original art pieces, a key theme within their offering.

They used to include little dolls within each room as they believe ‘nobody should ever have to sleep alone’!  Although this was initially met with some indifference, this is now something they’re looking to bring back, with a complete set of new characters.

On the rooftop of their New York Times Square site, citizenM has even built a tiny, brightly coloured bird hotel, allowing flighty feathered friends to rest up over night – either with their loved one ‘or for a night away with their mistress’!

Eco challenge

Robin Chadha also spoke about the environmental and eco challenges of running a hotel: Even with the best eco intentions, expectations and standards of guests are unbelievably high, meaning there is no room for anything but perfection, which can grate against eco design principles.

His own eco aspiration is to use recycled water in hotels, by collecting rain water to use in their toilet flushing systems. This is an admirable ambition, but something he believes may unfortunately come up against some opposition…

We were massively impressed with the attitude, originality and ambition of this fast growing independent hotel chain. They are re-defining the way hotel groups operate and setting a very high benchmark for everyone else in the industry.