Reimagining the Urban Hotel Spa

The urban hotel spa design is ripe for a disruption. The existing model is outdated and no longer serves the hotel nor its guests. Spas in urban hotels suffer from a “familiarity” disease. Guest capture rate has continued to decline as the novelty wears off. Most urban hotel spas find it challenging to compete with independent day spas offering better access and lower prices for similar products and services just outside their doors. Urban hotel spas now share the fate of gyms and pools of becoming amenities rather than profit centers.

So, what will it take to disrupt the urban hotel spa design? First, let’s be clear. Disruptors are not fixers. They don’t improve, fine tune, or modify. To disrupt something is to render what existed before obsolete. Disruptors reimagine how things ought to work by breaking molds, tossing out the rule book, thinking the unthinkable, and bringing about a whole new way of doing, living, being. Still interested? Read on.



A disruptive “wellness without walls” design consist of unexpected spaces dispersed throughout the hotel where guests are encouraged to share experiences with friends, strike conversations with complete strangers, learn a new meditation technique from a fellow traveler, arrange a morning run with a local marathoner, or catch up on work while getting a quick pedicure and a shot of turmeric ginger vodka.

Social spaces

Fun, engaging, brightly lit, open spaces that allow guests to meet, mingle, or just be a part of the scene. Social interactions, making new friends, learning by doing, or just being a part of it all are as therapeutic, sustaining, and gratifying as the best therapies – often even more so as they are fun, full of surprises, and spontaneous rather than staged.

And a disruptive hotel brand embraces the unpredictability and randomness of it all.

Silent spaces.

Silence still has a place in our “wellness without walls” design. But not necessarily in places that you’d expect. In fact, we appreciate silence most when we find it in the most unexpected places. Here are some examples:

Sound-proofed booths and furniture designed to provide comfort and privacy placed throughout the lobby and other public areas offer multitude of practical and personal uses.
Quiet time is not necessarily idle time for the global digital nomads. Virtual Reality pods offer 3D experiences and guided meditation techniques; snug hand-sewn cocoons provide privacy to stretch out and take a nap; and ergonomically designed work booths allow travelers to wind down and catch up at the same time.
We innately conned to nature,and biophilic space design reduces stress, improve cognitive functions and creativity, and increase our general sense of well-being.Creating biophilic spaces throughout the hotel offer micro-retreats to on-the-go guests who cannot afford to spend hours at the spa

Sensorial spaces.

Read any spa menu, and you’d think that spas have a monopoly on sensorial experiences. In reality, your spa sensorial experience usually entails choosing your massage oil, walking through candle scented corridors, and experiencing the soothing touch of your therapist’s hands while listening to softly piped in music.

Our sensory nervous system is capable of so much more. And sensorial spaces not only awaken our senses, but spark creativity, calm the nervous system, heighten neurological functions, support and strengthen other biological systems and provide unique therapeutic effects to each individual. Here are some examples:

The human nose can distinguish 10,000 different odors, our eyes are capable of processing over 36,000 pieces of information per hour, and our ears can hear sounds at frequencies from about 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Spaces that expose our senses to a library of scents, sights or sounds, engage the mind, promote discovery and encourage learning.
Our sense of touch provide a wealth of information to our brains and help us make decisions, grasp abstract concepts, and greatly affect our overall sense of well-being.
Our ability to express ourselves through language and other creative outlets help us process our feelings and emotions, relate to others, and break through mental barriers.
The antithesis of familiarity and boredom, unexpected spaces engage us physically and mentally by fueling our curiosity and inciting playfulness – lifting moods and boosting our creative energy.

Serviced spaces

Compact, multi-functional spaces designed to maximize guest offerings and experience, optimize the hotel’s space utilization and revenue while minimizing operational costs and maintenance.

While the previous three types of spaces provide urban hotel guests with dynamic, spontaneous, DIY experiences, Serviced spaces offer personalized services and experiences delivered by highly qualified, consumer vetted local experts and providers.

Serviced spaces are designed to reduce or do away with the high operational costs of servicing and maintaining treatment rooms, gyms, and other spa facilities which currently require full time staff to operate.

How to design a disruptive locker rooms? Replace them with a first- class lounge style unisex personal grooming pods where guests have complete privacy and can always count on fresh and sparkling clean facilities. Two compact pods (requiring less than 20 SQM of space) are more than sufficient for a 200 -room hotel as most hotel guests prefer to change and shower in their own rooms.


1. Main entrance
2. Storage/Janitor closet
3. Personal Grooming Pods (5 Sqm)
4. Sauna {4.5 Sqm)
5. Steam room (4.8 Sqm)
6. Therapeutic Bath (10 Sqm)
7. Hydro-circuit (26 sqm)
8. Rinsing showers
9. Multi-use Studio (11 sqm)
10. Access to Outdoor/Biophilic space
11. Healthy Shot bar


Note: Plant room for hydro/thermal facilities are not
shown in the illustrative diagram

Source: A.W.LAKE WELLNESS DESIGN, Copyright 2018