We want to be alone

We’re not opposed to labouring a point, stretching an image or plucking a conclusion out of really not very much here at NewDog PR, which is one of the many reasons that we’re not scientists. This week is no exception, as the death of Mikhail Gorbachev is making us think about all things collective and their future. 

The hotel sector, we quickly reassure, is not quite at the level of staffing crisis where guests are being asked to pitch in, although one’s mind does flit back to the early incarnation of easyHotel, where there was money to be saved for not indulging in room cleaning and bed making. 

But we can’t help but notice that many of those latest trends we all enjoy tend to lean away from the collective experience. Airbnb: live like a local by hiding out in your own apartment. Serviced apartments: more of the same. Wellness: more money for Aman and its total escape model. 

But what about co-living and all those groovy opportunities to do yoga on the roof with your new flatmates? Well yes indeed, but co-living is not roaring along as it might, in no small part because not everyone is a bouncy ball of communal living and such models are a way station on the journey to living ALONE. Possibly with a cat. If that can be afforded. 

Are we all becoming like Sartre, with his ‘hell is other people?’ or have we always been that way and what trend can we drag tortuously out of this? 

The sector, afeared by Airbnb and looking for more revenue, has been trying to inject community into what it does, with serviced apartments and other longer-stay models in particular creating some inviting communal space. And maybe this is the point; collective living on our terms, not mandated from above. There are, after all, many of us who seek out a hotel bar, knowing that it will be mostly empty, unlike the local pub. But a good business model this does not make.

Personal space has undeniably become more sought after in hospitality. It’s the luxury that most of us want.

It goes some way to explaining the issues that we have seen with the traditional tour operator model, with its group leaders and organised trips. Still a relaxing model, for sure, but with the excessive Googling most of us enjoy before a trip – indeed, which is part of the joy of a trip – not such a required product (at this point many thanks to Skift for drawing our attention to the rise of the travel coach which is such a rich person’s status symbol that we loath and covet it simultaneously – but fear we’d choose the wrong one). Do we want to be herded around, or are we all rabid individualists who want to go our own way? 

See also cruise ships, an area which is bouncing back valiantly after some of the most shockingly-bad images at the start of the pandemic. ‘Floating petri dish’ is quite the challenge to come back from and we salute them, but with the return of travel comes the return of activism in a number of locations which don’t care to see them powering into their harbours. 

Yet again, hotels must bend to what the consumer wants and try to be all things to all people. It’s very tiring, but think of Gorby, who is reported to have said: “The market is not an invention of capitalism, it has existed for centuries. It is an invention of civilisation.” And civilisation is demanding alone time. 


Image: Isokon building, former home to many a Soviet spy

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