Definition and Terminolog

Apartments, also known as flats in British English, Indian English, and South African English, or units in Australian English, are self-contained housing units that occupy a portion of a building, typically on a single storey. The term “apartment” is more commonly used in North America, while “flat” is prevalent in the United Kingdom and other countries. In some regions, the word “unit” is a more general term referring to both apartments and rental business suites, and is used specifically in the context of a particular building. Mixed-use buildings, on the other hand, combine commercial and residential uses within the same structure, often featuring businesses on the lower floors and residential apartments on the upper floors. The housing tenure of apartments varies significantly, ranging from large-scale public housing to owner-occupied condominiums or strata titles, and tenants renting from private landlords (Harvard Business Review, n.d.; Wikipedia, n.d.).

History and Evolution of Apartels

The history and evolution of apartels can be traced back to the early 20th century when the concept of apartment hotels emerged in response to the growing demand for temporary housing solutions. These establishments combined the features of traditional hotels and residential apartments, offering guests a more homely environment with the convenience of hotel services. Over the years, the apartel industry has undergone significant transformations, adapting to the changing needs of travellers and the global market. The rise of serviced apartments in the 1980s and 1990s marked a major milestone in the industry, as these accommodations catered to the needs of business travellers and expatriates seeking extended stays. Today, apartels continue to evolve, incorporating innovative designs, amenities, and services to cater to a diverse clientele, including tourists, corporate clients, and even local residents seeking alternative housing options. The growth of the sharing economy and the popularity of platforms like Airbnb have also contributed to the expansion and diversification of the apartel industry, presenting both challenges and opportunities for future development (Pizam, 2014; Rutes et al., 2016).


  • Pizam, A. (2014). The Routledge Handbook of Hotel Chain Management. Routledge.
    Rutes, W., Penner, R. H., & Adams, L. (2016). Hotel Design, Planning, and Development. Routledge.

Types of Apartels: By Size and Structure

Apartels, a blend of apartments and hotels, can be categorised based on their size and structure. Low-rise apartels typically have fewer stories and are below 35 metres (115 feet) in height, offering a more intimate and neighbourhood-like atmosphere (Emporis, n.d.). Mid-rise apartels, on the other hand, range from 4 to 12 stories and provide a balance between the low-rise and high-rise options (City of Toronto, n.d.). High-rise apartels, often referred to as residential towers or apartment towers, consist of multiple stories and can reach heights of 50 or more stories, offering a more urban and cosmopolitan experience (Wikipedia, n.d.). These structures may also incorporate mixed-use buildings, combining commercial and residential uses within the same structure, with businesses occupying the lower floors and residential apartments on the upper floors. The structural systems of these buildings are usually made of reinforced concrete and steel, with the invention of the elevator and more abundant building materials enabling the construction of high-rise buildings (Wikipedia, n.d.).


Housing Tenure and Ownership Models

Housing tenure and ownership models for apartments vary significantly across different regions and countries. One common model is large-scale public housing, where the government provides affordable housing to low-income residents. Another prevalent model is owner-occupancy within condominiums (strata title or commonhold), where residents own their individual units and share ownership of common spaces. In this model, residents may also own shares in the company that owns the freehold of the building, as seen in the “share of freehold” arrangement in England and Wales.

In the United States, some apartment-dwellers own their units through housing cooperatives, where residents own shares of a corporation that owns the building or development. Alternatively, tenants may rent from a private landlord in a leasehold estate arrangement. In Scotland, long leasehold of residential property is now impossible, making the ownership models distinct from those in England and Wales. Overall, the housing tenure and ownership models for apartments are diverse and influenced by regional legal and regulatory frameworks (Wikipedia, n.d.; Emporis, n.d.; City of Toronto, n.d.).

Regional Variations and Terminology

Regional variations and terminology for apartments differ significantly across countries. In North America, the term “apartment” is widely used, while in the United Kingdom, “flat” is more common (Wikipedia, n.d.). In Australia, the term “unit” is often employed to describe both apartments and rental business suites (Wikipedia, n.d.). These variations in terminology can be attributed to cultural and linguistic differences among countries.

In addition to the terminology, the structure and design of apartments may also vary regionally. For instance, high-rise apartment buildings are more prevalent in densely populated urban areas, such as New York City and Hong Kong, while low-rise buildings are more common in suburban areas (Emporis, n.d.). Furthermore, housing tenure and ownership models differ across countries, with some apartment-dwellers owning their units as part of a housing cooperative or condominium, while others rent from private landlords or reside in public housing (Wikipedia, n.d.).

In conclusion, regional variations and terminology for apartments are influenced by cultural, linguistic, and architectural factors, as well as local market trends and housing policies.


Mixed-Use Buildings and Apartels

The relationship between mixed-use buildings and apartels lies in their shared concept of combining different types of spaces within a single structure. Mixed-use buildings typically consist of commercial spaces on the lower floors, such as retail stores and offices, with residential apartments on the upper floors. Apartels, on the other hand, are a type of serviced apartment that offers hotel-like amenities and services to its occupants. These accommodations are often found in mixed-use buildings, where they can benefit from the synergy created by the coexistence of various functions within the same property.

In recent years, the growth of the apartel industry has been fueled by the increasing demand for flexible and comfortable accommodations, particularly among business travellers and tourists seeking a more homely experience. This trend has led to the development of innovative housing models that integrate apartels within mixed-use buildings, offering residents access to a wide range of amenities and services while also contributing to the vibrancy and diversity of urban environments. As the apartel industry continues to evolve, it is expected that the relationship between mixed-use buildings and apartels will become even more intertwined, with both sectors benefiting from the opportunities and challenges presented by this dynamic market landscape.


  • Apartment – Wikipedia; Mixed-Use Buildings and Apartels

Amenities and Services in Apartels

Apartels, a hybrid of apartments and hotels, offer a range of amenities and services to cater to the diverse needs of their occupants. These typically include fully furnished living spaces, equipped kitchens, and in-unit laundry facilities, providing a comfortable and convenient living experience. Additionally, apartels often feature hotel-like services such as housekeeping, concierge, and maintenance support, ensuring a hassle-free stay for residents.

Recreational facilities, such as fitness centres, swimming pools, and communal lounges, are also commonly found in apartels, enhancing the overall quality of life for occupants. Furthermore, apartels may offer business-related amenities, such as meeting rooms and co-working spaces, catering to the needs of business travellers and remote workers. In terms of security, apartels usually provide 24-hour surveillance and controlled access systems, ensuring the safety and privacy of residents.

In summary, apartels combine the best of both worlds, offering the comfort and convenience of apartment living with the added benefits of hotel-like services and amenities, catering to a wide range of needs for both short-term and long-term occupants (Fernandez, 2018; GSAIR, 2020).


Legal and Regulatory Framework

The legal and regulatory framework surrounding apartments and apartels varies across different jurisdictions, but generally involves a combination of local, regional, and national laws and regulations. These frameworks address aspects such as zoning, building codes, safety standards, and housing tenure. Zoning laws dictate the permissible locations for residential, commercial, and mixed-use buildings, while building codes establish the minimum requirements for the design, construction, and maintenance of these structures (Friedman, 2010). Safety standards encompass fire safety, accessibility, and sanitation, among other concerns. Housing tenure, on the other hand, pertains to the legal rights and responsibilities of property owners, landlords, and tenants, including lease agreements, rent control, and eviction procedures (Hulse & Milligan, 2014). In some jurisdictions, specific regulations may apply to apartels, which combine elements of both apartments and hotels, such as licencing requirements, taxation, and short-term rental restrictions (Guttentag, 2015). It is essential for developers, investors, and operators in the apartel industry to be aware of and comply with the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks in their respective locations.


  • Friedman, L. (2010). American Law in the 20th Century. Yale University Press.
  • Hulse, K., & Milligan, V. (2014). Secure Occupancy: A New Framework for analysing Security in Rental Housing. Housing Studies, 29(5), 638-656.
  • Guttentag, D. (2015). Airbnb: Disruptive Innovation and the Rise of an Informal Tourism Accommodation Sector. Current Issues in Tourism, 18(12), 1192-1217.

Market Trends and Growth of Apartels

The apartel industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by various market trends and factors. One key trend is the increasing demand for flexible and cost-effective accommodation options, particularly among business travellers and tourists seeking extended stays. This has led to a surge in the development of apartels, which offer a blend of hotel-like amenities and the comforts of a residential apartment (CBRE, 2019). Additionally, the rise of the sharing economy and platforms such as Airbnb has further fueled the growth of the apartel sector, as more property owners and investors recognise the potential for higher returns compared to traditional rental models (JLL, 2018).

Another contributing factor to the industry’s growth is the growing urbanisation and the need for efficient use of limited space in densely populated cities. Mixed-use developments, which combine residential, commercial, and hospitality components, have become increasingly popular as a solution to this challenge (Knight Frank, 2017). Apartels, being a versatile accommodation option, fit well within such developments, further driving their expansion. Moreover, advancements in technology and the adoption of smart building systems have enabled the creation of more efficient and sustainable apartels, attracting environmentally conscious consumers and investors alike (Deloitte, 2019).


Challenges and Opportunities in the Apartel Industry

The apartel industry faces several challenges, including regulatory hurdles, competition from traditional hotels, and the need for effective marketing strategies to attract customers. In many jurisdictions, the legal framework surrounding apartels is still evolving, leading to uncertainty for investors and operators (PWC, 2019). Additionally, apartels must compete with established hotel chains that offer a wide range of amenities and services, making it essential for apartel operators to differentiate themselves in the market (CBRE, 2018).

Despite these challenges, the apartel industry presents numerous opportunities for growth and innovation. The increasing demand for flexible, cost-effective accommodation options, particularly among business travellers and millennials, has driven the expansion of the apartel sector (Savills, 2017). Furthermore, the integration of technology, such as online booking platforms and smart home systems, has allowed apartel operators to streamline their operations and enhance the guest experience (JLL, 2019). As the industry continues to evolve, apartels that successfully adapt to changing market conditions and consumer preferences will be well-positioned to capitalise on these opportunities.


Case Studies: Successful Apartel Examples

One notable example of a successful apartel is The Collective Old Oak in London, which opened in 2016. This innovative co-living space offers a mix of private apartments and shared amenities, such as communal kitchens, lounges, and workspaces. The Collective Old Oak has garnered significant attention for its unique approach to urban living, attracting young professionals and entrepreneurs seeking a sense of community and convenience in a densely populated city (The Collective, 2021).

Another successful apartel is the Roam brand, which operates co-living spaces in multiple cities worldwide, including Bali, Miami, and Tokyo. Roam offers flexible, short-term leases for fully furnished apartments, along with shared amenities and coworking spaces. This model has proven popular among digital nomads and remote workers who value the ability to live and work in different locations without the hassle of long-term leases or purchasing furniture (Roam, 2021).

These case studies demonstrate the potential for apartels to cater to diverse needs and preferences, offering innovative solutions for urban living in the 21st century.


Future Prospects and Innovations in Apartels

The future prospects of the apartel industry appear promising, with potential innovations driving growth and addressing emerging challenges. One significant trend is the integration of smart technology in apartels, enhancing the overall living experience for residents through automation, energy efficiency, and improved security measures (Chen et al., 2018). Additionally, the industry is likely to witness a surge in mixed-use developments, combining residential, commercial, and retail spaces to create vibrant, self-sustaining communities (CBRE, 2019).

Sustainability is another key area of focus, with developers increasingly adopting eco-friendly construction methods and materials to minimise the environmental impact of their projects (McKinsey, 2020). Furthermore, the industry is expected to explore innovative ownership models, such as fractional ownership and rent-to-own schemes, to cater to the evolving preferences of modern consumers (PwC, 2019). However, the apartel industry must also navigate potential challenges, including regulatory hurdles and affordability concerns, to capitalise on these opportunities and ensure long-term success.


  • Chen, C., Crilly, N., & Wang, C. L. (2018). Smart homes and home health monitoring technologies for older adults: A systematic review. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 114, 13-29.
  • McKinsey. (2020). The future of construction: Getting smart about sustainability.
Category: Type of Property