SEEN: Re-imagining Hotel Lobbies As The Ultimate Third Space

Third spaces have evolved beyond the four walls of Starbucks - being alone together on low-slung sofas, drinking refillable flat-whites.

Changes in consumer behaviour amongst Millennials are driving shifts in retail & leisure outlet strategies – venues are becoming much more flexible in how they are arranged. Coffee shops have alcohol licenses, clothes shops sell cereal, barbershops are bars, hotels are clubs – Millennials work, eat & play where hybrid-culture is facilitated.

Kith NYC: Part footwear & apparel destination,part cereal bar hangout.

1Rebel Gym: Fitness & a social life are not mutually exclusive; 1Rebel classes are rallied with live music & free beer on site.

And hotels are no different – lobbies have always served as conduits for business meetings & interviews, as well as an opportunity for third party commerce through ground level boutiques, however, traditionally, they have been designed as transitional, functional spaces, rather than dynamic multi-speed, multi-purpose hangouts.

The Line Hotel - Koreatown, Los Angeles

A large arrow-shaped sign on Wilshire Boulevard reads ‘CaFe…free wifi’ and points visitors directly to the entrance of their lobby-side coffee shop which serves habanero mochas and red bean buns. Just one element to the hotel’s ‘come-in’ culture.

The Line Hotel in the heart of K-Town

CaFe flanks the lobby & serves twists on local Korean classics, accessible from street level or via the main entrance.

The Line Hotel was created by The Sydell Group (responsible for The Ace Hotels & The NoMad Hotel in New York) and designer Sean Knibb, together with some of the most entrepreneurial minds in Los Angeles – local legend (and chef) Roy Choi, nightlife kings The Houston Brothers & boutique retailer Poketo.

Together, the tastemakers set out to infuse the hotel with the social makeup of LA, honouring the Korean & Latino communities. Sydell Group founder Andrew Zobler wanted to create a gathering place, a hub, a space where the lobby could act as an ‘extended living room for the entire neighbourhood’.

The Line Hotel lobby with t-shirt clad ceiling & detergent bottle art installation.

While the lobby is the heart of the hotel, the guest rooms reveal its soul.

Millennials now make up a large percentage of the business community and are seeking authentic, local experiences whilst travelling and working, and they don’t want to leave the hotel to find it. Airbnb are gathering momentum with their ‘Belong Anywhere’ strategy, pressuring hotels to work harder at their ‘like you live here’ offering.

Localisation: Roy Choi’s Instagrammable food offer captures the heart of K-town culture. Instant ramen noodles, spam & rice and sweet teas make The Line Hotel the ultimate home-from-home.

Home is where your Wi-Fi connects automatically:

Traffic through The Line’s lobby ebbs and flows throughout the day, designed so that all elements of the space has pace settings – from furniture configurations to lighting, to music and atmospherics, and to their food offering.

Flexible layouts to accommodate varying needs throughout the day.

The space is made up of ‘furniture vignettes’ – a mixture of booths, bar stools and lounge seating, thoughtfully laid out so that the lobby always feels alive and energetic, without feeling claustrophobic. The Line have perfected their social chemistry, adding and subtracting elements so that no one gets in anyone else’s way. Guests and non-guests can be alone, but not lonely – or if they choose together, together.

Free Wi-Fi & accessible electrical outlets, often incorporated into the furniture, are a given – Millennials have created a new definition of what luxury means – bells & whistles are more simplistic, like technology and accessibility.

Lobby furniture with inbuilt plug sockets & superfast Wi-Fi.

A step-change in music, with Tupac’s ‘California Love’ as their war horn, signals another facet to the hotel’s third space offering. What was a working, dining & meeting hangout morphs into a high-energy bar with double the amount of staff, a roster of DJs & a roll-out bottle bar.

The Pot Lobby Bar changes pace from day to night.

The Pot Lobby Bar, the beating heart.

The Line Hotel at night.

Hotels as an after-dark third space destination is not a new concept to Millennials – Jay Z famously cemented this in popular culture with his ‘Fiesta’ opening lyrics ‘After the party it’s the hotel lobby…’

Staff are a key element of The Line’s third space formula - they are the connective glue, nurturing steady guests and converting first-timers into long-standing habitués. Staff are socially smart, they remember their regulars (even after weeks or months of absence) and are thoroughly knowledgeable on all menu items & the local surroundings.

Ted Vadakan & Angie Myung run the lobby store, Poketo - part gift store, part workshop. The husband and wife duo, native to the area, are part of the fabric of what makes The Line’s lobby offering a true distillation of the neighbourhood.

Poketo: Gift store ran by local art & design enthusiasts.

The Line’s third space also plays host to yoga classes, Sunday brunch clubs & is the start & finish line to K-town’s running club.

Shepard Fairey’s ‘Peace Tree’ mural clads the side of the hotel.

Art flows through The Line’s third spaces, starting with the iconic ‘Peace Tree’ mural by Shepard Fairey, he of Obama poster fame. Speaking about the commission on the Obey website, Fairey said “The Line has a bunch of cool art in the interior as well as the exterior, so I’m grateful to be situated in a bit of a creative oasis.”

The Line’s lobby is the intersection of worlds – a leveler – facilitating a sense of commonality amongst its occupants. It’s the first and last impression of the

community that a guest will have and sets the tone for the overall stay. For locals, it’s a hub in their community, or as Zobler set out to create – a living room for the neighbourhood.

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Kat Towers - Head of Culture