Our co-founder Jeremy Scarf talked about Restaurants with Rooms at GRIF Amsterdam

Food and beverage experience’s in accommodation isn’t new. Since medieval European inns provided the needs of travellers, including food and lodging, the two have come hand in hand.

It was the French revolution which created restaurants as we know today, when chefs of the nobles found themselves without nobles to cook for anymore and decided to strike out on their own. This provided a place that removed the food offering from the bedroom offering and created the restaurant as we know it today.

And with this tough restaurant competition, it’s not always been easy for hotel restaurants. They’ve often not been able to provide what people wanted, and so guests left the hotels to find what they were looking for. Here the high street, with their explosion of chains offering a range of dining options, was able to monetise by delivering the experience the hotel wasn’t proving.

Whilst approaches to F&B in hotels have changed over time, F&B within the hotel space has historically been a loss leader, an afterthought, with the bulk of revenue derived from rooms. Success was if the hotel’s F&B department managed to break even. Then something changed.

Hotels have started fighting back by creating world-class F&B concepts. For example, Gold on 27, which sits on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Designed by Keane, the challenge was to create a destination bar which would be a landmark in its own right. Being in the only 7-star hotel in the world, Gold on 27 is a modern interpretation of Arabic luxury taking inspiration from the riches and surrounding landscapes of Dubai and its shores.

Other angle the hotel operators have taken is adopting brands and turning them into whole hotel offerings, such as the Hard Rock Hotel (from the Hard Rock restaurants) and Buddha Hotel (from Buddha bars).

So, what’s behind these changes? We’ve looked at how social media, culinary travel, experience economy and remote working trends have shifting the hotel industry’s focus from ‘heads in beds’ to ‘restaurant with rooms’.


Social Media

There is no doubt about it. Instagram is turning the restaurant industry on its head. From visually appealing plates to eye-catching décor, restaurants are capitalising on the sharing craze to boost their business and get free advertising from legions of adoring foodies.

Instagram is a food haven. Whilst hotel rooms are prevalent images to share, our research shows restaurant images are 24x more popular. And #instafood is tagged a huge 655 times more than #instahotel. Leveraging the popularity of food and beverage on social media can increase awareness, drive footfall and change overall brand perceptions from simply just a place to sleep, to a more rounded visitor experience.

Culinary Travel

The demand for culinary travel continues to grow and is expected to continue as more travellers plan their trips around food.

Individual restaurants like Noma and ElBulli were part of the beginning of the culinary travel phenonium but have spawned an alumni. For example, in Copenhagen where some of the original Noma chefs have started up their own network of great restaurants to visit.

Hotels can maximise on food lovers travelling the world based on the best places to eat, Michelin star meals and unique dining experiences.


Remote working

Meetings at hotels and restaurants aren’t new but developments in working formats and advancements in mobile technology means more people are now working out of the office and looking for more fluid working environments.

Companies such as WeWork, Soho House and The Hoxton (with their “Working From’ offering) has really leveraged on this change in working behaviours. These spaces allow people to come together, socialise and work alongside each other in environments that have been designed with both socialising and working in mind.

Hotel restaurants can maximise on this growing trend of working outside of the office walls by providing a one-stop shop for working, socialising, networking, eating and drinking.

In Keane’s 25 year history, we’ve helped shape the UK night club, bar and restaurant scene, taken it to the Middle East, and more recently SE Asia and Africa. Now we are being asked by hotel groups to use this experience to create energy and excitement within their own restaurants and bars.

The future of restaurants within hotels is exciting and one we are happy to be a part of. Over the next few week’s we’ll be sharing examples of some our own clients who are delivering these trends well, including those we shared at GRIF.


Experience Economy

The complete immersive experience that customers are looking for in retail has moved into dining. Creating stories is a huge part of building a customer experience they want to share with others.

For example, we were briefed to create an immersive and totally ‘instagrammable’ experience at Conrad Hilton in Dubai. As a result, Kimpo was born – a Korean chicken and beer restaurant where the whole environment was designed with a focus on engagement, messaging and getting customers sharing their experience.

The experience goes beyond the environmental. The Kimpo menu includes a product called Lunchbox – a deconstructed meal brought to your table and shook up in front of you, creating a fusion of ingredients and flavours. This was inspired by the Korean family where Mothers put last night’s leftovers into a lunchbox and when shook up in the child bag, create a unique lunchtime meal.