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Delivering a hyperlocal experience

To sate travellers’ desire for immersive local experiences, forward-thinking accommodations are championing their own neighbourhoods via experiences, entertainment or decor. Click. explores

You’ve been hearing about – and probably adopting – the demand for local travel experiences for a while now.

Assimilated with the growing, wider trend of experiential travel, it involves design, tour or entertainment offerings which provide privileged, insider access to a town or city.

Last year Booking.com, while predicting 2018’s travel trends, found that a quarter of travellers place a precedence on their host having strong knowledge about local food and places. And, issued this summer, the Travel Trends Report for 2018 by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) reported that 70% of travellers now want their holidays to boost the local economy.

Some forward-thinking hotels are now narrowing that focus even further by highlighting their precise neighbourhood or quarter. This is a ‘hyperlocal’ offering: the same emphasis on local knowledge, only now more specialist and more intimate.

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Hotel lobby
Bankside lobby. Photo: Bankside

 

Take London’s just-opened Bankside Hotel: a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection intent on highlighting the charms of the surrounding South Bank, an area beside the River Thames. One element of that has seen interior designer Dayna Lee commission artists to create features paying homage to this location, including wall murals by ceramicist and illustrator Laura Carlin which describe some of the South Bank’s key cultural narratives.

Elsewhere, partner Street Gym will pick up guests every morning for riverside workouts, while literature in each room will list current local-area art exhibitions, theatre productions and buzzy gastronomic events.

Sincerity and a depth of offering are the key. “Guests want to feel a real connection to the area in which they are staying,” believes Douglas McHugh, the hotel’s General Manager. “But not in a contrived way,” he adds.

Distinct designs

Design is also the chief means by which all 88 outposts of Hotel Indigo – a global boutique chain within the InterContinental Hotels Group – communicate their ‘neighbourhood culture’.

“As well as using insider knowledge to help our guests know where all the trendiest bars, restaurants and cafes are located, we ensure our hotel designs reflect the story of the neighbourhood in which they sit,” explains Henry Reeve, Director of Interior Design.

“For example, bedrooms at northern England’s Hotel Indigo York’s contain chocolate motifs in a nod to the area’s confectionery-making heritage. Hotel Indigo Dundee’s Gaming Room reflects surrounding Dundee’s thriving computer game industry – it was the birthplace of Grand Theft Auto – while blankets by a local textile designer, Hilary Grant, are inspired by waves on the River Tay, a minute’s stroll away,” says Reeve.

He sees Hotel Indigo’s hyperlocal offerings as a practical reaction to the expectations of millennial tourists. “The movement towards unique, local experiences is continuing as travellers not only seek comfort, but also immersion in the destination and connection to the local community as part of a more meaningful trip,” he asserts.

Bicycle and beer tours

Over in Brooklyn, The Williamsburg Hotel offer nine exclusive, guided tours that include walking, biking, beer and motorcycle-focused options, to promote Williamsburg and surrounding districts such as DUMBO.

“We also provide all guests with a custom neighbourhood map created by a local artist,” says Developer & Owner, Toby Moskovits. Due in the coming months are classes at a Williamsburg bakery and a gift shop containing hyperlocal artisan products.

“As a born and bred Brooklyn girl, my love affair with Williamsburg runs deep,” Moskovits admits. “Ours is a space wherein guests can experience authentic Williamsburg – and I think that’s wholly in line with what modern travellers expect from a boutique hotel.”

Leading the way

The original hyperlocal hotel is Paris’s Le Pigalle: a devoted ‘hôtel du quartier’ from the moment it opened in the Pigalle area in 2016. That approach is evident in every aspect of the stylish residence, from hardbacks selected by local bookstore, Les Arpenteurs and the playlists of a Pigalle-based DJ to the food menu’s distinct Ninth Arrondissement flavour, curated in cahoots with local retailers, and beers from Goutte d'Or, a brewery metres from the hotel.

“Each room also has objets d'art and furnishings courtesy of local photographers, designers, shopkeepers and musicians,” continues Vanina Kovarski, Head of Brand, Product Development & Communication. “Pigalle has long been home to the creative minds of Paris, and we celebrate that.”

Kovarski also sees this hyperlocal stress as an upgrade on more generic, wider-focus ‘local’ experiences. Today, she says, “people increasingly want to know to what a place is really like".

She adds: "Our collaborative approach with locals brings the true essence of Pigalle to the hotel.”

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Hero image: credit to Benoît Linero & Hotel Pigalle Paris

Takeaway
  • A quarter of travellers place a precedence on their host having strong knowledge about local food and places
  • 70% of travellers now want their holidays to boost the local economy
  • “Guests want to feel a real connection to the area in which they are staying,” believes Douglas McHugh, Bankside Hotel’s General Manager
  • The original hyperlocal hotel is Paris’s Le Pigalle: a devoted ‘hôtel du quartier’

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