The Social Hub
An interesting conversation with The (formerly) Student Hotel’s Leontien Acda about hybrid hotels, bold branding, and a playful mindset.
The name “The Student Hotel” hints that these are no ordinary hotels. Can you tell us about the concept?
The Student Hotel is a hybrid concept, which means we accommodate hotel guests, students, and creative professionals. A hotel guest can simply book a room for one or multiple nights. Students can stay as long as one semester. In 2018, we added co-working spaces to the brand, so companies and freelancers can now rent an office or desk in true TSH style.
A stay at The Student Hotel is described as an ‘immersive experience’. What does that mean?
You will feel how different it is from ordinary hotels when you walk into one of our locations for the first time. Normally, people would walk straight up to their room. Our ground floors consist of beautifully designed areas, full of things to do and explore. There is always something going on. Guests hang out at the bar, creatives work in the lobby and students play table tennis. They don’t need to go out for a buzzing atmosphere.
Plus, international students can simply book a room to stay with us for one semester. No need to attend multiple ‘open-house’ nights to find a room. Students can enjoy a very comfy experience where everything is taken care of from the moment they arrive. A private room, bed, TV, gym, workspace and even their own bicycle to discover the city.
TSH Florence was nominated for the Frame Awards as one of the world’s best design interiors. What role does design play at TSH?
When people encounter our name they often think TSH is like a hostel for students. While in fact, we’re a design hotel brand. We have an in-house design department, responsible for the interior, decoration and overall styling. They make sure that everything we do has the TSH feeling to it.
We are very serious about delivering an outstanding hotel experience, whilst also being serious about staying playful.
And what is that feeling?
Playfulness and boldness. One of our slogans is “Play with a Wink”. I believe that this shines through in everything we do. We are very serious about delivering an outstanding hotel experience, whilst also being serious about staying playful. You can see this in the way our design department makes use of colors and materials. They come up with all kinds of playful design elements that add character to our hotels.
What about the cheeky decorative texts in the hotels?
To be honest, I don’t know who comes up with those. But you could say that even our decoration has a recognizable tone-of-voice. We are not afraid to make design choices. It defines the personality of our brand.
Kollekt.fm provides a tailor-made music experience for TSH. What role does background music play for TSH?
Background music is a very important element for us. You can have the most beautifully designed venues, but if the music selection does not match, it will weaken the effect of a full experience.
We have a music strategy on brand level and different playlists for certain areas. The tunes at the bar are different from what you hear in the lobby, but it all fits the TSH brand sound in the end. We have an accurate idea about what we should sound like, so having our staff plug in their phones to play music just wouldn’t work for us.
TSH is matched to Amsterdam-based DJ/producer ‘Beraber’ for music curation.
For The Student Hotel, I’m charged with curating four different playlists for different parts of the day. So what you hear during breakfast will definitely be easier-going than what you will hear while having a drink at the bar at night. Overall, I try to translate the playful and bold vibe of the hotel to a fitting soundtrack to lead you through the day.
I select songs from a very broad range of genres. Anything from hip hop and rock to house or disco, and everything in between. It’s a nice blend of brand new releases and music you forgot you knew. So there is always something to (re)discover. I look for tracks that are not too obvious but do have the power to appeal to a diverse audience.
In the process, I often end up with young and upcoming artists. As a musician, it’s the perfect way to stay on top of all these genres. I can share songs that would not fit my DJ sets but are the perfect sound to start the day with!