We’ve written before about the havoc caused by tiny hotel rooms – but at Arlo SoHo, micro rooms pave the way for a hotel with beautifully, thoughtfully designed public spaces.
Opened in New York in September 2016, Arlo SoHo is the first location of Arlo Hotels. This outpost, along with Arlo NoMad (also in New York), offers modest 150-square-foot rooms – with the hopes that guests will then take advantage of its many large spaces on the lower floors to drink, dine and work.
“We pride ourselves on the public spaces,” says Arlo Hotels director of public relations Hannah Redfield. “We get a lot of business travelers who just need a place to lay their head. That’s why we put so much time and effort into the spaces outside of the room – to give those travelers something to do that’s outside of just a lobby bar.”
Micro Rooms with Ample Amenities
So, what’s it like to stay in one of Arlo SoHo’s 325 micro rooms? Personally, I was a fan immediately. Yes, it’s incredibly small, but I could instantly follow the efficiency of the design. In the queen-bed room with a city view, you basically walk in to your bathroom. On one side is an alcove for the toilet and shower, and on the other is your mirror and sink, along with another full-length mirror.
Take a few steps, the tile turns to carpet, and you’re in the remainder of the room. In the room I stayed in, there’s space around the bed to walk (although my 6-foot-tall significant other had trouble navigating it comfortably).
Despite the size, you’ll find many of the amenities offered by a traditional hotel room: a safe (here, in a pull-out drawer under the bed), a desk that folds into the wall, hangers with room to hang a few items of clothing, a (very) mini fridge, tiny waste bins for trash and recycling, a hairdryer and a steamer.
It made me realize how wasteful some hotel rooms can be, especially for one person. I can recall many occasions where I was traveling solo and stayed in rooms with multiple beds and a large desk I never used. At Arlo SoHo, I had everything I needed – one comfortable bed, a good shower, a bit of storage space – all in just 150 square feet.
Public Spaces for Different Activities
But those micro rooms aren’t for everyone. (Arlo Hotels even has plans in the works for projects with larger rooms, although Redfield says the micro-room concept is extremely viable in places like New York and Los Angeles.) So there needed to be a lot emphasis on cool, casual but useful respites elsewhere in the hotel for travelers. And the SoHo location needed a design firm that would infuse personality. Enter: New York-based ArvoKO, which wastes no time incorporating fun touches.
“I firmly believe that Arlo doesn’t exist without the design, without these elements that bring it to life,” says Javier Egipciaco, managing director of Arlo Hotels.
Upon entering the Arlo SoHo, guests will see a small alcove in the lobby dedicated to Dylan’s Candy Bar (“that’s a hot seller at 4 a.m., let me tell you,” Redfield adds) and a “bodega” open 24 hours that offers coffee, pastries and some locally made snacks.
“I think hotel lobbies used to feel so sterile,” Redfield says. “Now there’s a shift toward making them livelier.”
The remaining public spaces, during my stay, were packed throughout the day – people working on laptops, having one-on-one meetings or conference calling through their headphones. And the goal, Redfield says, is to get people out of their rooms. At night, some of the rooms transitioned for the evening, with doors closing off spaces that were rented out and dark curtains covering the windows inside Arlo Lobby Bar.
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“Truly, it’s just a place where people can come and hang,” Redfield explains. “We have free Wi-Fi. You can grab your coffee, grab your lunch. A lot of people here are just working [and aren’t guests], and I think that’s where hospitality as a whole is going. Everything’s converging. You need a place where you can plug in but also grab a drink with friends and also host a meeting and also get lunch.”
Fun touches include a music library chock-full of vinyl albums and a record player and a shout-out wall for guests to write on. More useful amenities include a projector for presentations, multiple TVs and plenty of conveniently placed outlets.
“[AvroKO] was very interested operationally how things work,” Egipciaco says. “I say that because some design firms don’t necessarily think about things like how heavy a table is, which was needed for Arlo’s concept of transforming spaces. Nothing’s bolted down. We needed to be able to mobilize these pieces. AvroKO thought that through in their design.”
Arlo SoHo also offers a full-service restaurant, Harold’s, which serves seasonal American fare; a spacious rooftop that was recently re-designed by Restoration Hardware; and a courtyard where the design theme changes throughout the year.
Arlo SoHo a Destination Spot
Arlo SoHo’s interior design undoubtedly made it stand out, and it truly felt like a destination in the SoHo district – for both working and playing. It goes to show just how much hospitality design is evolving.
Egipciaco adds that the experience of travel is something designers are increasingly looking in to as they design for hospitality settings. “[It’s about] ease of use, approachability, and the right design that speaks to everyone and not one market,” he says.
If a commercial or boutique hotel is on your project list, Arlo SoHo offers plenty of inspiration.
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