When I grow up I want to design a hotel…Yep, same like this one…the citizenM hotel in Bankside London.
I’ve heard about citizenM when I was visiting London on July. I was having a meeting and a portfolio review with WallPaper Magazine and in preparing myself to the meeting, I read the WallPaper Travel section and came across the citizenM post. The hotel happened to be located just across the street from WallPaper offices so I made sure to go and see the hotel with my own eyes.
Yes. I admit. I love Shapes and Colors. (and if you follow my blog for a while now, I’m sure you have probably noticed that) so no wonder I was drawn into the huge lobby of citizenM immediately and wandered its colorful labyrinth. Then I got to the working space area that really made me envy I wasn’t the one sitting there working on my computer.
Wandering the lobby, I’ve noticed the nonchalant atmosphere among the guests, who seemed to feel like it was their own living-room. I loved it!
When I got back to New York, I had the pleasure of meeting Noreen Chadha, who is managing the up and coming citizenM in New York. Noreen was kind enough to share with me the story of the hotel chain and I’m so excited to share it with you.
It all started when Rattan Chadha, back then a textile tycoon and now the founder of citizenM, was always looking for a different kind of hotels while he was traveling for business. During his fashion days, Chadha had about 100 designers traveling all over the world, from London to Milan to Paris to New York, and they were always complaining about their hotels. These were cool creative people, and they wanted to stay in a hotel where they could connect with the brand and with the lifestyle. They wanted to have a drink at the bar and meet likeminded people. But they always ended up in a Holiday Inn or a Marriott, because of budget. This was a common frustration, and it got Rattan thinking about a new opportunity. He got a team of people, all hospitality-connected, all frequent flyers and together they came up with a list of frustrations but also with some creative solutions and suggestions.
citizenM, The New Generation of Traveller
Chadha and team realized the hospitality world is no longer divided into just two segments of travelers; The 5-start traveler or the Budget traveler. No. Nowadays travelers are mix and match and no longer boxed in one category; They might stay at different types of hotels for different trips, fly economy, take public transportation and yet, they want to dine in the hottest restaurant in town. They might wear Zara or Uniqlo but will also have a Rolex on their wrist.
The new generation of traveler is the citizenM (M is for Mobile). The citizenM traveler is a frequent traveler going to the major cities of the world, travels for work or pleasure or both. He is conscious about value, cares about quality, luxury and quite protective of his time. He doesn’t want to waste time, but wants things to be easy, efficient and friendly.
Once the mobile citizen profile was established, it was easier to figure out what does a citizenM traveler want from a hotel; The result was 5 main things:
* Lifestyle- ‘You are where you sleep’. When you walk into a hotel you want to connect with the vibe and the atmosphere. You want it to fit with your lifestyle. You also want to feel comfortable and at home. And when you are at home, you spend most of your time in your living room or your kitchen, and you mainly use your bedroom for sleeping. So this is what hotels should be like. Instead of a small lobby, citizenM Hotels; lobbies are built like oversized living rooms. All hotels are designed by Concrete, Amsterdam, and the furniture are all by the Swiss luxury brand, Vitra. Each hotel has contemporary Art that comes from the chain’s private Art collection and the chain has an in house stylist who travels all over the world, collecting authentic items to put in the hotels’ living rooms, so it really does feel like a home.
* Efficiency. Self check in and check out. You can be checked in within 60 seconds. citizenM likes working paperless, and most communication is via emails. Your room-key is an RFID card, that also doubles as a luggage tag and you can use it any time and at any hotel of citizenM. You can also use the room-key to pay for food and beverage.
* Luxury. Even though rooms are quite small, you will have a luxury sleeping experience thanks to the 2×2 meters beds with the custom made mattresses by Sealy, Italian linen and super fluffy pillows. The shower amenities are all designed by Alessandro Gualtieri who spent months perfecting the citizenAM and PM fragrance for the hotel chain.
* Technology should be simple, user friendly and has to work! All rooms run on a customizable ambient server. Each room has his own mood-pad (designed especially for citizenM by Samsung and Swisscom). The mood-pads are all one-touch, easy to use. You can change the color of the lighting, the intensity of the lights, temperature, different types of alarms (wake up gently by a woman counting down and the lights slowly turning on, or wildly with the lights on bright and the sound of pingpong balls or elephants thrashing through the room). There are no hidden costs in the room. So you can enjoy free WiFi, free movies on demand and free phone calls (run through VOIP).
* Genuine, human service. This might be one of the most important values of citizenM; Their Staff. The hotel doesn’t believe in segmenting people into functions or positions, and instead, the hotel trains its staff to be multi functional. The staff is citizenM’s brand ambassadors and they embody the typical mobile citizen themselves. Each and every one of them is trained as baristas to make you great coffee, as mixologists to shake you a perfect cocktail, but they can also check you in or out, help you in the room, and they know the city well so they can help with local tips and advice. Therefore, I was so amazed when the bartender who welcomed me also showed me the rooms and gave me a private tour.
Each staff member is purely hired on his/hers personality and those who are going to make you feel at home the moment you walk in the door. (Trust me, I am talking from my own experience). It doesn’t matter if they have tattoos or pink hair, as long as they are great and welcoming people who know their job.
citizenM hotel is all about affordable luxury, comfort and design. As a travel photographer, who is always looking for a great, comfortable and eye-catching design, I am curious and drawn to these kinds of hotels, such as citizenM.
Next time I’m traveling to London or Amsterdam, you know where I will be staying, and you know I will be proud to be part of citizenM.