Sustainable interior design – is this the next step for hotels in 2020?

Discover the top 5 things you can do to make your hotel interior more sustainable!

(Source: MaxPixel)

Sustainability is becoming more prominent in a consumer’s decision-making process. 88% of consumers want companies to help them be more environmentally friendly with the products and experiences that they offer. Can you risk losing over three-quarters of your guests by not being environmentally friendly in your hotel?

Sustainability is becoming an essential way of life for many consumers. With these innovative ideas, you can use your hotel interior design to increase the desirability for your guests to stay with you.

(Created with

Why consider sustainable interior design?

Across the globe, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable interior design. Hotel managers have a significant impact on the sustainability of their hotel. You decide which materials and products will be used, which can promote a positive connection between guests and your hotel’s interior.

Guests now expect to see hotels actively using strong sustainable initiatives. It is now more than just giving your guests a choice if their room is serviced; they are expecting sustainability to be seen in the hotel’s whole design.  

This incorporates every element of a hotel to be running with sustainability as a core business aim. For hotel management, creating interiors with a low environmental impact, allows operating costs to be reduced. Further benefits would include healthy and productive spaces to stay and work, which could lead to highly accredited awards.  Consumers want to see companies being active in sustainable management, investing in real methods that will make a positive difference to the future of the planet.

This is a global movement, not only wanted by consumers of hospitality experiences but required by governing bodies. The International Tourism Partnership sets out for hotels to reduce their emissions by 66% by 2030 to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Goals. 

The design of a hotel can help to contribute to achieving these goals including reducing water waste and using environmentally sound resources. By your hotel being pro-active with interior design, these goals can be met and the hospitality industry can be leaders and drivers in global sustainability.  

(Source: Flickr)

5, 4, 3, 2, 1… 

For hotel managers, there is a need for a balance between focusing on sustainability and ensuring the interior design is welcoming, comfortable and reflects the needs of guests.

Here are the top 5 things you can do to make your hotel interior more sustainable:

1. Buy local products to create the interior which supports the local economy and limits the amount of transportation, creating a smaller carbon footprint.

2. “Reclaim, recycle and reuse” – buy products that have been recycled and made into new items or reclaiming old products such as furniture.

A table made from old recycled pallets (Source: Lakeland Pallets)

3. Buy furniture or furnishings that are from sustainably sourced materials, for example, eco-fabrics, eco-wood, LED lighting, eco-paint and wallpaper.

4. Update fixtures and fittings that reduce water consumption, such as showers and taps with water saving capacity and aerators to reduce overall water flow and waste.

5. Promote natural daylight created by floor to ceiling windows to reduce the use of the largest energy consumption contributor in your hotel.

(Created with

A final thought…  

Sustainable interior design is discovering a potential product and service gap, which is becoming more important and discussed between industry professionals. When purchasing sustainable products for interior design, including tables, chairs and beds you should go to suppliers who use renewable, recycled or reclaimed materials. Consumers are willing to pay extra for sustainable experiences. It is your responsibility to introduce sustainable interior design to your hotel.

Does your hotel have upcoming design projects which could be conducted with sustainability at focus?

What are your opinions on the hospitality industry using innovative ideas, such as sustainable design, to become leaders in achieving global sustainability?

Please comment below with your thoughts and opinions from your position in the industry today.


Jessica says:

Such a good insight to sustainable interior design. Sustainability is such an important factor now in tourism and hospitality, sustainable interior design would make any sustainable experience complete.

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good Morning Jessica,

Thank you for your comment on our blog.
Sustainable experiences are becoming a huge trend into 2020 for the hospitality industry. With the global protests and debates on climate change, consumers are thinking differently with climate change at their focus. Lets hope the industry continues to use innovative ideas as discussed in this blog to lead the way in climate change.

Chloe says:

This is such an interesting article. I currently work for a charity thay is developing a social enterprise, in the form of a guest house, renovations are well under way at the property and lots of furniture has been purchased. Due to the fact the building (soon the be guest house) was built in 1836 – we are working hard to purchase furniture in keeping with the history of the property, so have spent lots of time at local auction houses, picking up various bits and pieces from the Georgian and Victorian period – which are being upcycled and given a new life: which has helped with many things including costs and our suitability. We’re also very fortunate to have large windows through out, that have been upgraded, to the best quality windows we could have in a grade two listed building so that should help reduce electricity and heating demand!
So many useful tips and tricks in this article, I hope all hospitality managers can get on board and help make this industry more sustainable!

Hotel Sustainability says:

Hello Chloe.

Thank you for reading our blog and taking your time to add such a valuable comment.
It is great to hear that the industry, from your experiences, is taking sustainability seriously and using it in projects.
Upcycling is a great concept that not only usually saves money from buying new materials but also reduces waste globally.
The natural light created by the large windows is a great asset so investing in good quality windows is such a good business choice. The big windows will reduce electricity and heating used which is fantastic to see in such an old property.

Gemma says:

As a consumer and someone who uses hotels at various points throughout the year I am always looking for the best value for money. Cheaper hotels jump out at me, but I do also look at whether they are well designed and decorated, and the services they offer. However, I would definitely be willing to pay a little more if I knew the hotel I was going to made active choices to help sustain our very valuable planet.
Good demonstration of the improvement process would attract me to a hotel also, if I knew their sustainability plan of action – even if it had not yet been implemented – I could at least know they had declared a change and I would know my money would be well spent towards the process of change.

Although a hotel might be deterred from making changes at their expense, in the long run I think it would be hugely beneficial to all and would definitely help attract more customers to their door.

Hotel Sustainability says:

Hello Gemma,

Thank you so much for engaging with our content!It is really interesting to hear a consumers point of view.
Value for money does come into this as consumers are torn between what is financially available and their own personal values towards climate change. Hotels need to be prioritising sustainability agreeing with your point that even if they were showing some progress for change, consumers would feel better investing their money and time in that specific hotel. Sustainability will cost businesses initially but if consumers want to pay more it is a market gap that must be explored.

Chris Brewchorne says:

Some good points there which could equally be considered when kitting out your home or any business premises. The elephant in the room for tourism is the thorny subject of aviation. People want exotic distant locations, but that entails a massive carbon footprint getting there. We should be encouraging staycations or more holidays in the UK, which is a beautiful and visitor-orientated country. Amazing how many Brits have been all over the world but have never been to Scotland.

Hotel Sustainability says:

Hi Chris,

Thank you for taking your time to read our blog! Aviation is like you said an elephant in the room for tourism, due to the amount of carbon it produces. As a human, the single worst thing we can do individually for the planet is to fly, so your idea of staycations should be promoted more.Sustainable interior design is a step forward, but there is still a lot to be done throughout the whole hospitality industry to create a more environmentally friendly world.

Chris Brewchorne says:

I think the worst thing we can do for the planet is probably being born ! Quite how we address that one remains to be seen. Perhaps to assist that goal we shouldn’t be making hotel rooms so romantic and comfortable; cold showers only.

Hotel Sustainability says:

That is a very interesting thought Chris! I think that is a dilemma that some hotels are facing, in terms of not compromising their luxury attributes to provide sustainable alternatives. Hopefully, in the near future hotels will be able to combine luxury and sustainability together!

Sarah says:

Well written and researched blog on a very contemporary issue- and probably one that will continue to be for a while longer yet! Hopefully hotel managers will take inspiration from your blog and changes will be made. I know I would be willing to pay a bit more if I knew the hotel I was staying in was trying to help the environment!

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good afternoon Sarah,
We agree with your comment, this is a very contemporary issue which will continue to affect the hospitality industry for many years in the future. Hotel managers need to make sustainability a core aim for their business, as this will in the long term reduce their operation costs and will allow them to be a large industry pushing towards global change. Hotel managers will need to spend money to make the changes to the interior design, but will hopefully be able to budget this to make sure that prices consumers pay will not be too much higher than they already are, because we know value for money is also a major factor in consumers decision processes.

Rebecca says:

This is such a thought-provoking article which I haven’t previously considered with in the hotel that I work in.

The hotel has only just started making small sustainable adjustments over the past few months, by eliminating plastic straws and opting for a paper option instead and giving guests the choice if they would like their rooms to be serviced. Unfortunately however, they are yet to consider sustainable interior design features with in the hotel, which I will definitely be raising at the next meeting! Sustainability is such a hot topic now, which, like you say should definitely be an essential core business aim!

This has definitely made me think twice about the sustainable impacts of hotels. I hope more managers can take inspiration from this now, for a better tomorrow in the hospitality industry!

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good morning Rebecca,
I am glad we have presented a topic that you have not previously thought about. It is great to hear that the hotel you work in is changing small things to become more sustainable, with the straws and if their room gets serviced everyday. It is also great you will be mentioning interior design in your next meeting, this is becoming such an important aspect of hotel management and could allow your hotel to target a new market and reduce the emissions they produce. Would love to hear your feedback once you have spoken to your managers, if you have chance to let us know we would really appreciate it.

Matt says:

This was a very interesting read. A lot of the hotels I have stayed in tend to forget about sustainable interior design and simply focus on asking guests to reuse their towels. I would certainly be willing to pay a bit more to stay somewhere if they had sustainable interior design integrated in their hotel!

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good afternoon Matt,
Reusing towels is a very common action asked by hotels, but they should now be thinking further into sustainability to make an impact in global change. Towels are simply not enough in todays climate crisis.
Managers need to focus on the interior design such as furniture, materials and fixtures to reduce their carbon footprint and consumption which will reduce the amount of money they spend and become a large industry contributor to saving our planet for future generations.
We hope that sustainable hotels in the UK will rise in the very near future, and hopefully this will spark inspiration with other countries around the world too.

Calum says:

Very interesting read! Raising some relevant points with the change in consumer beliefs. The 5 tips are easy to digest and offer great suggestions

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good evening Calum,
We’re glad the 5 tips for hotels offered good suggestions for hotel managers.
We believe that if hotel managers start to incorporate some of these aspects into their businesses, it will be a great start to industry change. The more that can be changed, the bigger the positive impact on the environment.
We hope you can use these suggestions in your workplace.

Taylor says:

These are great ideas for creating a sustainable interior! This is a trend that is really starting to take off here in the USA there are a lot of hotels and resorts that are striving make their properties more sustainable. The list is endless on creating a sustainable property. The property that I work for currently takes sustainability very seriously and And it’s great to see it work!

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good morning Taylor,

Thank you for taking your time to read our blog. It is good to see other countries are trying to be more sustainable as well! It is important for Managers to focus on the interior design such as the furniture and materials used.

Lets hope the hotel industry globally, continues to use innovative ideas to improve sustainability!

Thomas Blackford says:

From my experience working as a duty manager in a Four star hotel, keeping the interior design using local suppliers keeps it as a community feel, and helps small businesses that may not necessarily would of been used for hotels. I think more hotels should be looking into the sustainability of their interior design as this is clearly becoming a prominent thought that guests have!

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good Morning Thomas,
Thank you for taking the time reading our blog, and commenting. Your thoughts about having a community feel from using local suppliers are interesting. I think this could certainly be the case for most hotels in the UK. Have you had personal experience with using local suppliers yourself?
We hope that as this, global issue of gaining environmental sustainability grows, that more hotel managers look into transforming their hotel interior to promote sustainability.

Amy says:

As an individual who regularly stays in hotels, whether that be in the UK or abroad I tend to base my choice on the value for money or location. However, after reading this article, I would definitely consider paying slightly extra for a hotel that has sustainability in mind!

Considering the current buzz around sustainable products and services, I feel that the hotel and tourism industry should definitely be taking this into consideration as their first step into an industry change. More importantly, consumers are becoming more aware of these issues and I think sustainability will become a very important deciding factor for individuals when choosing a hotel.

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good Afternoon Amy,

Thank you for taking time to read our blog. We certainly agree that consumers are becoming more aware and proactive about the sustainability issue we have across the globe, and that managers should definitely be taking this into consideration. Consumers like yourself who are willing to pay more for sustainability is also an important reason for managers to consider changing their interior design to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. May we ask, what factor of interior design in particular would you consider the most when deciding on which hotel to stay at?

james lodge says:

Sustainability needs to be taken seriously, otherwise it will be a problem in the long term for many hotel firms who are thinking it is not the right solution. Money, time and effort and can be saved by going through this method.

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good Evening James,

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. We agree! Sustainability, now more than ever needs to be considered in all areas of business. The benefits you mentioned should be reason alone for hotels to take more of an action towards sustainability. From a consumer perspective, would you be willing to spend more money on a hotel if that hotel posed better sustainable attributes than others?

Michelle says:

A very interesting read! The world needs change and these small steps can help make a major difference. As a hotel manager, and someone that cares about the world, I am always looking for ways we can make improvements and be more sustainable. Shame its taken us this long to realise the mistakes we have made but hopefully if more companies and people thought like this we can start to make a difference.

Hotel Sustainability says:

Hello Michelle,

Thank you for your comment, glad you found it an interesting read.
It is really great to hear that you are actively looking for ways to help the planet in the industry.
Hopefully as it is a personal interest to you, you may be able to get more colleagues involved in green initiatives throughout your hotel.

Alexa says:

Great insight into a major world topic. Sustainability has become such a large impact across the world and industries. Guests certainly want to see active sustainability efforts at a property during their visit. Currently, at my resort, anything that can be recycled is, we have recycle bins in all guest rooms and offices, the f&b outlets make compost with leftover food items, etc. This excites guests and they partake in the efforts. I agree that guests would be willing to pay a premium rate if they knew the hotel’s sustainability efforts. There are always ways a hotel can recycle without incurring additional costs. For example, there are companies such as Clean The World who help hotels recycle items you generally would not think could be recycled, such as used soaps and are donated to countries/areas in need; utilizing this type of company does not cost the hotel any additional money, they simply just need to modify their housekeeping procedures to save these items after a guest departs rather than throw them away. Sustainability is definitely a topic that cannot be disregarded.

Hotel Sustainability says:

Hi Alexa,

Thank you for taking your time to read our blog and commenting. It is great to see your resort is aware of the importance of sustainability and is actively encouraging guests to choose sustainable choices such as recycle bins in all the guests rooms. From your perspective, do you think your resort considers its interior design when making sustainability decisions?

Emily says:

Very interesting read! I do tend to go for what I can get cheapest in terms of hotels, however after reading this article I would definitely be willing to spend a bit more knowing that a the hotel I’m staying is doing their bit to integrate sustainability into their hotel.
I definitely agree with using local products as it helps the local community also!

Hotel Sustainability says:

Good Afternoon Emily,

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and we appreciate your comment. I am glad that our blog has made you think about the hotels you stay in and whether they are being sustainable or not in their whole design. In your opinion, what is the best way hotels can show customers that they are supporting sustainability? Every company not only hotels should support local businesses, which will help reduce the risks of climate change and like you’ve said will help bring in more money to the local community.

harry says:

I am currently studying tourism at college and I was doing some research for a project when I found this blog. I had never even considered this concept so I have found it a great read. Will be using this blog to discuss this element of sustainability further in my studies!!

Hotel Sustainability says:

Hi Harry,
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on our blog. I am glad you will be using our blog to discuss elements of sustainability further in your studies. What did your project entail in college? If you have any further suggestions regarding how hotels can be more sustainable, we would really appreciate your opinions.

Comments are closed.