Group travel, whether it’s a large family or a group of friends traveling together, is often a challenge when booking hotel rooms. Studio Commons is a new hotel concept that blends the convenience of a hotel room with the flexibility of home providing a private setting for groups looking to travel and spend time together. The concept is was rolled out in 2019 in Arizona and Colorado, and will continue to be rolled out across the brand.
I had the opportunity to check out this communal concept at the Element Boulder Superior in Colorado(website here), spending a long weekend with a group of friends. The concept fits the way I often like to travel – well-appointed personal space (and en suite room), with a large kitchen, dining space, and entertainment area. It’s an updated twist on the hostel concept, community livingroom space for cooking, eating, and having fun, and restricted to your traveling group.
The overarching concept of Element Hotels centers around three rest components: Arrival, Evening Ritual, and Restful Turndown. It’s about making a hotel stay a restful experience rather than a harried experience. While there are still some inconsistencies in the process, and like any new concept, some areas for improvement, Studio Commons meets my personal preferences for group travel experiences.
The goal: To create an arrival experience that imparts a sense of calm, providing guests a moment to pause, exhale and relax, setting the tone for the entire stay.
The result: The lobby was bright and airy, with floor to ceiling windows throughout, and the check-in experience was seamless. There were a couple of other guests checking in at the same time that I was, and the process seemed neither rushed nor dragging on.
To the side of the front desk was a restorative station, a signature amenity with a glass jar of iced, infused water, encouraging guests to rehydrate after traveling to get there. Infusions are selected for various health properties and during my stay, I saw lemon and cucumber infusions. The water was kept filled throughout the stay.
Also in the lobby area is a small grab-and-go area, with food and beverages available for purchase.
Other amenities offered at Element properties include scented towels offered guests, either warm or chilled, depending on the season and a scented paper insert that comes with the keycard. These were not yet offered at the Boulder property.
Scents can be a challenge for some guests. If you have allergies or are scent-sensitive, be sure to mention in upon arrival. Better yet, you may opt to make a note of that when booking. Although I have allergies, none of the scents on the property created an issue for me.
The goal: To create evening rituals that will remind guests what they do at home to unwind and decompress at the end of the day.
The result: I enjoy unwinding at the end of my day with a glass of wine and I can do that at the Element Boulder Superior. Complimentary beer and wine, local whenever possible, are offered in the lobby. Guests can enjoy conversation in the spacious lobby, or head back to their room, choosing to enjoy their time as they would at home.
This service is only offered Monday-Thursday, a real shame for those choosing a getaway over the weekend or there for an extended stay that includes a weekend. Given the reality of remote workers, flex time, and variable shifts, traditional weekends aren’t the norm for everyone these days.
Not a wine or beer drinker? No problem. Another evening ritual is a tea service that includes a variety of brewed teas presented on a cart near the elevator. The teas are specially designed for Element to promote a restful evening and a good night of sleep.
The goal: To create a restful environment in all rooms, cozy and warm, just like you were at home.
The result: Bedrooms are separate from the common areas and are what you would expect from any Westin-branded property – Heavenly beds, high thread count sheets, luxury products in the en suite bathroom, and an efficient desk and workspace. The Element Boulder has thoughtful amenities in spades.
In the bedroom suite, they have also created a room that puts you in control of your environment. Bedside lighting and floor lamps, rather than overhead lighting, are designed to create a more homey feel. A micro diffuser spray bottle on the bedside table can be used to create a cocoon of aromatherapy.
I can only wish that my home was as cozy and restful as the Element Boulder!
The Studio Commons concept includes four individual guestrooms surrounding a common living area with a private kitchen. Element Boulder Superior features four Studio Commons units. Each bedroom is entirely self-contained with access to the communal door which we left open. The entire area is protected by an additional security door.
The kitchen was complete with most everything you need to create a meal, including dishes, pots and pans, utensils, and a small selection of spices. There is a full-sized refrigerator, dishwasher, and stove, most everything you need if you’re going to stay in and cook (there’s a Whole Food nearby where you can pick up food). For a splurge or a bonding experience, you can arrange for a chef to create a cooking class in the suite.
A breakfast bar is located across from the kitchen, facing the television and family room, and a separate dining table is located off to the side. It was a huge amount of room for the four people in my group and would comfortably accommodate twice that number (or even more).
The breakfast bar was a popular hangout spot, bridging the activity in the kitchen with the conversation in the living room. It was an easy way to connect at the end of the day, sharing what each of us had done.
We frequently travel with friends or extended family (like our stay in Seattle on New Years’ Eve) and like room for hanging out for conversations, snacks, and games. The Studio Commons concept is just what we’re looking for in those situations.
If you aren’t traveling with a group, or perhaps you need more bedrooms than four, traditional hotel rooms are also available.
The Element Boulder Superior is located at 1 South Marshall Road, Superior, Colorado. Rates start at $800 per night for the Studio Commons and include four individual guestrooms plus a common living area with a private kitchen. Standard room rates start around $99 per night. Go to Expedia to compare rates.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary stay at the Element Superior Boulder to facilitate this review.