Regarded as the fastest growing travel sector, and estimated to be worth a staggering $639b, wellness tourism is perceivably changing the face of hospitality. Tapping into this market is relatively straightforward, but delivering an authentic and memorable wellness experience amidst the noise is less so. This is why the launch of new hotel brand, Inhabit Hotels, has generated so much interest ahead of its first opening this Summer.
“Time spent working as consultants in established, yet often impersonal hotels, got us thinking about the modern traveller and what they might value in the place they choose to lay their head,” explains Inhabit Hotels’ co-founder, Nadira Lalji.
“Uniform hotel rooms can feel isolating. And when you’re on the road, wellbeing often takes a backseat in favour of fast food and late”night channel hopping. Factor in jet lag and a hectic work schedule and it’s no wonder travellers are left feeling completely out of sorts.
“Time spent working as consultants in established, yet often impersonal hotels, got us thinking about the modern traveller and what they might value in the place they choose to lay their head”
“My cousin Rahim and I started thinking: why don’t hotels actively encourage you to focus on your wellbeing, thereby offering a truly restorative experience? And so in early 2017, we set out to create such a place. A place that makes it easy to eat well, find the time to exercise, breathe deeply and sleep well.”
The brand’s first property will be a 90-room hotel, set in six Georgian townhouses on Southwick Street in London’s Paddington district. Wellness and restoration are the brand’s core tenets, around which its interiors, public spaces, F&B offering and jampacked schedule of guest activities are oriented.
“We have broken wellness down into a series of pillars that we live by, from the physical to the emotional, the social to the intellectual,” explains Nadira. “For instance, everything encountered at Inhabit is intended to be mind-expanding, so there are books on wellness in the library and a programme of talks and supper clubs hosted in collaboration with our partners.”
“In terms of boosting our guests’ physical wellness, we have worked with sleep consultants on the best ways to achieve a perfect night’s slumber – prioritising blackout blinds, temperature control, a soothing colour palette and a minimal layout to help de”clutter the mind in rooms – and partnered with a top health”driven food company on a nutritionally balanced all”day menu in the cafe.
“As movement is key, our manager will run with guests every morning and we have built meditation pods on site so guests can pause for 10-minute guided meditation sessions, zoning in on specific areas such as jet lag, to recharge.
“On the flipside, restoration is also about mental stimulation so we will work with local communities, from crafting to yoga, and hope to help our guests to engage with their passions – and perhaps discover something new in the process!”
Inhabit London’s interiors, too, have been optimised to create a calming escape from the frenetic pace of the city. Designed by Holland Harvey Architects and Caitlin Henderson Design, the hotel fuses Scandinavian design influences with traditional British heritage and touches of Eastern flair.
The psychological impact of colour has informed the soft interior palette – shades of green in the communal areas symbolising relaxation and harmony, and gentle blue and grey in the rooms promoting good sleep.
Inspired by the abundant foliage of Southwick Mews, jasmine, ivy and various ferns have been planted around the townhouses, while accents of greenery inside complement the property’s limestone floors and oak joinery to create a natural, honest design.
Contemporary British pieces from Another Country and London-based social enterprise, Goldfinger Factory, blend with original furniture by Scandinavian greats such as Hans J. Wegner and Gubi.
In celebration of ingenuity and talented craftspeople, Inhabit Hotels has incorporated textiles and accessories from social enterprises Nkuku, Aerende and Kalinko.
“We have broken wellness down into a series of pillars that we live by, from the physical to the emotional, the social to the intellectual”
Artwork is another fundamental aspect of the scheme, Nadira explains. “We have curated the collection based on research around nature, wellness, mindfulness, creativity and meditation,” she says. “From textiles to graphic design, painting to photography and digital fine art prints, the eclectic selection expresses five themes – peaceful play, mindful escape, supernatural, interconnectivity and lucky life – both literally and in an abstract way.
“Blue chip art by practising Buddhist, Miya Ando, and Saatchi Gallery-featured artist, Georgi Venelinov, is mixed with works by emerging talent such as photographer Dev Joshi and textile artist Attalie Dexter.”
Inhabit Hotels’ multi-dimensional approach to wellness will no doubt have broad appeal, but it may strike a particular chord with a demographic increasingly seeking out brands that chime with their own environmental or philanthropic philosophies.
Inhabit Hotels’ selective approach to the brands and businesses it works with captures the sense of integrity the market is leaning towards. Amongst these brands is natural, plant-based Ren Skincare; Belu – a UK-based company that produces carbon-neutral and ethically-sourced bottle waters, donating 100% of its profits to WaterAid, and online reuse platform, Globechain, which enables the redistribution of goods to social causes rather than landfill.
Another key point of discussion in recent times has surrounded the role of hospitality venues within a local community, particularly in population-dense urban areas where hotels are increasingly considered the “living rooms of the city”.
Nadira and Rahim are passionate about integrating their properties with the local community, and already have ambitious plans in the pipeline.
“Another aim of the hotel is for our townhouses to create a hub for conversation and activity in the Paddington community,” affirms Nadira. “We have been working closely with Paddington Business Improvement District and there’s a shared vision to reinstate a village.
“It’s an exciting area undergoing constant redevelopment and one of the most active sites of regeneration and office construction in London. We are excited to be inserting ourselves in this thriving community, offering activities centred around wellness; from meditation classes to crafting and book clubs in our library.”
With Inhabit London’s imminent opening and work soon to be begin on a second property, it’s an exciting time for this ambitious new brand to make its mark.