Thursday, 6 March 2014

Details that matter: small ideas for hotel room design

I had given some thought to it earlier, but recent experiences refreshed the idea of hotel room design not being an easy discipline. It has to obey functionality and desperately follow trends bearing in mind that the use of hotel spaces is for a wide array of people by age, motivation of travel, professions and lifestyle.

Bringing the bathroom into the room, revolutionized the hotel room design in the early 20th century, and there was not too much happening since then, if we are not interested in the capsule room design segment of the 21st century no frill hotels.

The ancient  rules of creating a satisfactory hotel product hardware (service is obviously the software) talk about the 3B: bed, bathroom, and breakfast. Two of these are in the room. Let's highlight some ideas for the room that are often ignored even by the most recently built hotels. These are based on my own user experience, and some operational and  maintenance considerations:

//Discrete coffee shop - It is much more functional if the coffee/tea making station with the cattle and/or coffee machine is placed in a more discreet but accessible storage (shelf or drawer). The purpose built drawer in the picture works very well. Leaving these out on a desk or a dresser creates the impression of a messy room especially after they have been used.

//Elevate the mini bar - There is not need to place the mini mar under the TV stool any more. The mini bar is already an operational challenge, why make it hardly accessible for both guest and staff. Keeping it in a cupboard mount at eye sight, makes the content more appealing, easier to access and more likely to generate revenue.

//D day for Doors  - apart of the main door, conventional doors are for the past. If the bathroom is well ventilated and the toilette and the shower space has a glass door, we can even forget the bathroom  door which better connects the room space with the often used bathroom. Another solution is a sliding door which on one side closes the shower space on the other the toilette bowl. (you would not use both at the same time)

//Step up not in - The time of the shower in the bath tub is just over. If a tray or stone tiled shower box is not enough then find a separate space for a tub. But a larger more comfortable shower is by far more appropriate for a hotel room than a step in tub/shower combo which kills both. And if you are in desperate need of your evening bath, than upgrade or take a walk to the hotel spa.

//Tidy desk - Flyers, marketing materials, newspapers, menu, phone user manual, house rule etc. etc. never ending pile of paper on your hotel room desk. A lot of time for housekeepers to always tidy it up in a brand standard arrangement, and just one second for the guest to through them off creating usable work space on the desk. Dear hoteliers, let's continue learning from the airline industry. We have already learnt the revenue management from them, let's adapt the way they arrange and display in flight written material. It's simply tidied up in a functional holder, no need for a book stand. If you need something you will get it fast and easy.

//Show TV - TV cabinets are the past, unless it opens electrically creating a 6-star wow effect. There is no argument to hide the TV any more. Instead integrate it into a nice wall design, creating  stylish frame or flexible holder that allows for a minimal rotation. This frees up the space of a heavy TV stand and it allows for a creative use of a wall mounted high resolution display.

//Arty touch - Hotel rooms tend to lack personality or a personal touch. One easy and affordable way of solving this is placing some locally hand crafted small souvenirs in the room. A nice story can be built around them and if there is a series of such items the guest can even buy more from the hotel shop. A good example I saw in an African city hotel is small hand crafted statues of the big 5 mammals of the continent.   You got 2 in your room and your could purchase the rest in the shop.

Some of these can be useful for exiting hotels as well, who are looking to refresh a bit the room experience without major capital expenditures. Enjoy!