How to Curate Indoor-Outdoor Spaces Your Guests Will Love

Spring is on its way, and guests will want to venture outside without a snow jacket. However, they don’t need a 50-acre forest and a tent to be able to enjoy nature. You can create indoor-outdoor spaces at your property where they can relax, breathe in the smell of the plants, and sip their spicy mango mocktail. Rooftop bars, courtyard coffee lounges, and rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows can all bring guests closer to the natural world…with a cozy, dry place nearby when it starts to rain. Here’s how to curate indoor-outdoor spaces that keep guests coming back. 

Working with What You Have

Work with what you have, not against it. What weather and landscape conditions do you need to adapt to? Consider these conditions and plan ahead. If you know it gets hot in the afternoon, put up an awning for shade. 

Your indoor and outdoor spaces should appear as continuous parts of the same whole, so use design and decor that ties them together. Can you have the same or complimentary colors in both? For instance, if your inside is decorated in blue, try adding blue umbrellas to the outside picnic area or pool lounge. Bring the outside in with plants or water features. Hint: Before choosing your plants, research how expensive they are and how much care they need. 

There are practical factors to consider in addition to aesthetics. Know what your building can handle and what it can’t. Be sure to check the live load before you install that rooftop tiki bar…

An inviting hotel restaurant interior with hanging plants, lots of natural light, and wooden furnishings.
Indoor plants and earthy tones help to bring the outside in.

Guest Rooms

Large guestroom windows not only show off your view, they also let in plenty of natural light, which improves guests’ mood and can even raise their creativity for that big meeting tomorrow…

In fact, “natural” is the key word for indoor-outdoor space design. Choose biophilic design elements that look like they could come from nature, wooden chairs instead of plastic, limestone instead of linoleum. Colors should also be something you would find outside; paint the walls mint green or forest green, not candy green. 

Don’t despair if you’re on a budget. There are plenty of budget-friendly options as well. If you can’t afford many plants, consider putting a mirror beside the ones you have. The reflections make the space seem greener. Is there anything you can simply bring in from the outside? While it would be counterproductive to denude your surroundings en masse, you can most likely get away with bringing in a few flowers or seashells. Even opening windows (when it’s warm enough) can make your space more inviting. 

Finally, what do rooms smell like? What kind of cleaning products do you use? Lysol won’t put anyone in mind of the great outdoors.


Some days it’s too nice to stay inside, and companies want to take their meeting out to the patio or pool. That last Friday afternoon conference call is more bearable under the shade of a poolside umbrella even if they can’t hit the bar cart just yet. (Hint: Make good use of these umbrellas. They offer shade as needed, and they’re easy to move around.)

Most outdoor spaces around your hotel can work for events, provided they have Wi-Fi and electrical outlets. Anti-glare projection screens help too.


A pool is a must for children and guests who are still children at heart. It’s a common search filter when looking for accommodation, so without one, those guests may not even find you.

Use quality lounge chairs. Only those there for their workout are in the water the whole time. Other guests take breaks to read and lie in the sun; it’s better if they don’t go “ooh, my back” when they finally get up. 

Add natural elements to your design here as well. What kind of stone can you use for the tile? What view does your pool have? Can it face somewhere other than the parking lot? If the view around your pool isn’t all that green, consider planting some (it’ll help hide the parking lot). 

If it works with your setting and brand experience, an infinity or overflow pool can make guests feel like they’re part of the scenery. 

Last but not least, mandate an age limit to use the pool unsupervised and/or staff a lifeguard to keep your pool safe. It’s easier than you’d think for guests to overestimate their abilities in water, especially if they’ve had a couple from that bar cart. 

Guests take a yoga class outside on the hotel deck.
Covered decks, gazebos, and even shady spots in the garden are excellent places for alfresco yoga classes and dining.


Nature is a crucial part of wellness, with both physical and psychological benefits, and many typical wellness activities can take place outside (in the right weather). Massages can be given in a shady, outdoor cabana while that yoga class may be even more relaxing on the beach or in the garden. 

You can even create a “sensory pathway” through your property with elements that appeal to each of the senses…the scent of rosemary, the gurgle of water, etc. This goes for wherever you’re designing; think about more than just looks. Are those elegant seat cushions actually comfortable?

Food & Beverage

There’s nothing wrong with dining al fresco, especially on a sultry summer night. Guests will stay longer outdoors—and spend more—if they have something to nibble on. Pro tip: Invest in patio heaters for when sultry turns chilly. 

Guests should also be able to purchase drinks and snacks by your pool (see above). Swimming is harder work than people realize—it makes you hungry! Imagine lolling in your lounge chair, licking an orangesicle. It feels decadent while reminding you of childhood. 

Think about installing a fire pit or a seasonal barbeque. Parents can grill their kids’ food by the beach, and kids can run around splashing everyone. Indoor-outdoor spaces don’t have to be fancy to be fun. 

A vegetable garden is a great idea. You don’t necessarily need a lot of space, and it looks appealing, even if all guests do is walk past it when they come in the door. As a bonus, you can grow your own ingredients. It’s as local as it gets. 

Unique Selling Proposition

Tie your indoor-outdoor spaces and activities into what makes your brand unique. What kind of hotel are you? Do you have a surf and sand feel? An urban chic vibe? Just because you’re urban doesn’t mean you can’t offer indoor-outdoor spaces. There’s nothing more chic than gazing out over the skyline from the rooftop bar. 

Today’s guests seek sustainable, healthful options, and indoor-outdoor design supports that. Use these ideas to connect your property with the natural environment around you to improve the guest experience and thereby your bottom line.