What is co-living?
Co-living is a way to live and share an inhabitable space with other like-minded people. Co-living is fast gaining in popularity across the globe as the younger urban generation increasingly puts more value on flexibility and convenience.
It’s important to note that modern co-living comes in all shapes and forms. The term has been used loosely for different kinds of living arrangements: from “big box co-living” buildings with hundreds of small pod-style rooms to family-style apartments turned co-living homes (think of the apartment from the TV series, “Friends”).
What all these co-living arrangements share is the willingness to create a place to live that both provides some privacy and plenty of shared space to facilitate community engagement.
Belonging is an existential human need. On the famous Maslow Pyramid of Needs, belonging ranks third, just after physiological and safety needs. When traveling, our modern, connected lifestyles offer countless options for networking or for unearthing “local gems” - yet many travelers feel isolated when visiting a new city.
“Belonging is an existential human need.”
Soho House is reinventing the members’ club experience for the millennial generation.
Hotels moving towards community experience
To capitalize on this need, savvy hoteliers have devised concepts that heavily market a community aspect. Brands like the Hoxton, Soho House and the Devonshire Club in London have built a cult following on the premise of offering accommodation to a community of like-minded people. They provide spaces for guests to meet and work together, and activities linked to the interests of their well-defined audience. Soho House has taken things one step further, only accepting new members if they have been co-opted, like a traditional members’ club.
The final step in this version of the community experiment is co-living, where guests share living units for weeks, months or even years at a time. Once reserved for so-called “digital nomads” living for a few months at an outpost in Bali or Cambodia, co-living is gradually attracting followers in large, expensive cities, with companies like Roam offering multiple locations from San Francisco to Tokyo.
But guests aren’t the only ones who need to connect with their surroundings. Hotels that manage to become a hub for their city or neighborhood can offer a more immersive experience to their out-of-town guests, while generating new revenue streams thanks to local demand. In Paris’ 10th arrondissement, Le Grand Quartier aspires to do just that, combining a hotel, a café, shops and a workspace under the same roof.
“Hotels can’t be everything to everyone.”
Le Grand Quartier hotel in Paris was designed with both hotel guests and neighborhood visitors in mind.
Successful communities are connected by a golden thread. It can be a place, a shared belief or an aspiration, but it has to be defined. Conversely, that means some people will feel left out. Hotels have to resist the need to be “everything to everyone”, lest they lose that sense of belonging.
This article is extracted from the Hotel Concept Handbook, developed by Creative Supply in partnership with EHL and has been used to create winning hotel concepts. For hoteliers, it helps to create integrated, compelling concepts that attract the interest of guests and industry professionals alike by linking storytelling to operations or design. The Hotel Concept Framework is taught every year to students at EHL.