By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
MCLEAN, Va. — Grandma, Grandpa, the parents and the two grandchildren were planning a trip to the Megacity. Their budget meant a hostel was about all they could afford in the densely populated city core close to the main attractions. But it had been a long time since the seventies when the grandparents had hitchhiked across Europe, and the parents didn't really fancy sharing rooms with strangers, especially with the kids involved.
They found a place that was halfway between a hostel and a more traditional hotel — a place with different kinds of rooms that had connecting doors so that the family could move freely from one room to another. They ended up getting three really small rooms, just 14 square metres (163 square feet) in size.
One had a sofa bed and chaise where the family could gather and socialize — there was also a Murphy bed set into the wall. The parents took that one, since they stayed up the latest and woke up earliest.
The second room had a bunk-bed arrangement with a queen bed on the bottom and a single on top — ideal for the boy and girl who thought sleeping in the same bed would be absolutely disgusting. There was easily room for another child on the queen part of the bunk.
The grandparents could choose from two room types, one with a corner bed and one with the bed centred in the room. They chose the centred bed so they wouldn't have to climb over the each other when they got up for bio breaks in the middle of the night.
When they went down to the lobby, the family could truly experience Megacity culture, since there were lots of locals there, enjoying the superior coffee during the day and the bar experience at night.
And when they went to bed, they were amazed at how quiet the rooms were, in spite of the sirens and other Megacity noises surrounding the hotel. There was a rumour that even the paint had sound-reducing qualities. The beds were all comfy; there was no annoying alarm clock beaming at them; and the blackout curtains obscured the lights of the city completely.
Their ideal hotel in this hypothetical situation was Motto by Hilton — the latest Hilton brand, unveiled by Hilton president and CEO Chris Nassetta in October. The first Motto will be in Marylebone, London, U.K. It will have 85 rooms in a tight location within walking distance of Marble Arch. The lobby, the Motto Commons, will be in a first floor basement location, and will include the F&B offerings of local partners. Construction will start early in 2019, with the opening projected by the end of 2019.
Hilton is also looking at other sites in New York, Boston, San Diego, Atlanta, Nashville, Dublin, Ireland, and Lima, Peru. In Canada, the brand could work in cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Quebec City, and other hard-to-enter markets like ski resorts, Tripp McLaughlin, global brand head, Motto by Hilton, told CLN. The target number of rooms is about 175, but can range from 85 as in London, to a 300-400 room property planned for New York City.
While Nassetta originally called the newest Hilton brand “a hostel on steroids,” the official Hilton description is that it is, “Hilton's most affordable lifestyle brand, a micro hotel with an urban vibe in prime global locations.”
“It's a very great design, with smaller rooms than the traditional Hampton, and more prototypical in nature,” said McLaughlin. “There are some flexible finishes at the local level. Guests will be able to book multiple connecting rooms. The smaller rooms are complemented by a neighbourhood lobby with great coffee, bar drinks and appetizers. The Motto Common is the hotel's handshake to the community, as it will be well designed to attract locals in addition to hotel guests.”
McLaughlin explained how the idea for the brand came about. “We were looking at opportunities and started considering needs not being met. We saw the growth of boutique hostels such as Generator Hostels and Freehand. These offer rooms for four, five, six or seven people, with an authentic experience. The pain points were having a stranger in the room, safety concerns and consistency. We took a step back, asking, 'Can we take some of these learnings and combine them with a micro hotel?'
“We came up with a brand in a great spot between two models, the boutique hostel and the more traditional hotel.”
The brand is suitable for both new build and adaptive reuse — for example, in an old office or bank building. Hilton will make concessions regarding design if they make sense.
“Overall, developers like the efficiency of the room design,” said McLaughlin. “Three Motto rooms occupy the same space as two Hampton rooms; while a 50-room Hampton might not work on the site, a 75-room Motto on the site could work.
“The lobby space is a little bit unique. We don't have packages, just design commonalities: great arrival, integrated check-in, multi-use seating and a great coffee and bar area. The developer can come back to us with a design. A Vancouver Motto should be very different from Toronto or London,” McLaughlin said.
While people ask if this is a millennial brand, McLaughlin stressed that it was designed for a composite psychographic: connected and competent travellers who want to experience the neighbourhood and enjoy the tradeoffs of smaller rooms and fewer traditional amenities, for a great experience in a prime location.
The Motto Way
Hilton hotels around the world will show off their flexibility through spaces
that have been cleverly designed, technology that makes travelling seamless and
a standout sleep experience that makes recharging easier than ever.
— Guest Rooms: With an average footprint of 163 square feet or 14 square
metres, the highly efficient rooms will include space-saving features such as
wall-beds, lofted beds, segmented shower and toilet stalls, and
multi-functional furniture that can be discreetly stowed when not in use.
— Linking Rooms: Eliminating the hassle of coordinating travel for larger
groups, Motto by Hilton hotels will have the option for guests to book multiple
connecting rooms in advance.
— Split-payments: Motto by Hilton hotels will allow guests to split
payments between more than one person at the time of booking, avoiding the
sometimes-complicated math exercise during checkout.
— Connected Room: All Motto by Hilton rooms will be outfitted with
Hilton’s Connected Room technology – the first mobile-centric hotel offering
that allows guests to control features in their room (i.e., temperature,
lighting, TV, window coverings, etc.) from their Hilton Honors mobile app.
— Curated Sleep Experience: Motto by Hilton hotels will put an emphasis on
a premium sleep experience. Whether it is a premium mattress; a Sleep Kit with
eye masks, essential oils or vitamin bars; a white noise app; blackout window
shades; or sound absorbing materials throughout the room, Motto by Hilton is
sleep-obsessed and prioritizes quality sleep for every traveller.