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Shoppable Hospitality: The Rise and Rise of Hotel Lobby Retail

If the words ‘hotel lobby’ simply remind you of that time you lost your room key, or an added charge from the mini bar that you conveniently forgot, think again. Hotel lobbies are rebranding themselves as mini retail hotspots. Consumers are walking away from heritage department stores and shopping malls – mall traffic is dwindling across the US, and thousands of stores are closing as consumers spend more online, while in the UK, shopping centres and malls saw a 2.6% drop in Feb 2017, an acceleration on both January’s 0.4% fall and the three-month average of minus 2.4%. To fill the gap, new retail spaces are popping up in unexpected spaces where footfall is a given, from train terminals to museum shops.

And the latest reimagined retail spaces are hotel lobbies- where inspirational and Instagrammable products sit on display – right at the entrance of the hotel.

The Ace Group arguably set the blueprint for a community-centred approach to in-house retail and food service, with its support of local designers, artists and makers. The Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles has transformed the local area into an emerging retail destination (see the nearby Acne Studios and A.P.C store for confirmation) and the hotel lobby store lets you take home everything you used in your room (dressing gown, slippers etc) but it also goes one step further, offering a selection of on-brand products from stylish brands like Moleskine notebooks and LA jewellery brands like Marmol Radziner.

Then there’s Casa Bonay, in Barcelona– the lobby is home to a cluster of curated kiosks and boutiques, selected to offer an insider’s guide to the city’s creative scene.

The news kiosk is run by local independent bookseller Blackie Books, there is an apparel boutique from Batabasta (which also makes the staff uniforms), and juices and coffee can be purchased from local outlets Mother and Satan’s Coffee Corner.

Likewise, the Saint George hotel in Marfa connects guests directly to the area’s famous art scene with a lobby bookstore, gallery and events space curated by the Marfa Book Co. The multifunctional retail space sells coffee-table books, prints, art and design objects, and homeware. It also regularly hosts pop-up performances and workshops. The aim is to immerse guests into the location and forge a connection with the neighbourhood that feels authentic.

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