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!


  1. For me, number 1 I care about cleanliness, then 2comfort. The beds, pillows, linens. How good of quality are they? How are they cared for?

    3 Design. I really care how original or beautiful a hotel is. I don't think everyone is like me but if I am going to a hotel for more than work or sleep decided upon by location and amenities like food and attractions, then design and safety are the next most important things.

    4.) I like a nice functional bathroom, so you're right on about that, and the doors.
    Also, places to store an iron and board and hang clothes (especially in the GCC) if the hotel doesn't offer its own drycleaning or laundering services (which, let's face it, anything four stars and under in Oman just doesn't).

  2. Agree about the tea/coffee making things as they can take up a good proportion of a fairly small desk. As for the fridge, yes it can be a pain getting to one, but more important for me is that it is a quiet fridge! I slept in rooms with some shockingly noisy fridges, and resort to turning them off at night - if I can access the plug. I know it wont help the fridge, but I want an undisturbed night of sleep.

    My main bugbear about hotel rooms is the lighting level. I read the old fashioned way - books, papers etc - not a kindle, and these are quite difficult to read with the inadequate soft lighting of some rooms.

    As for doors, well sometimes I wish that there were 2 doors to a room, the main one and then another at the end of the corridor formed by the bathroom. This would cut down the noise from other guests outside the room who can be unsociably noisy late at night.

  3. I dont know how relevant Im talking here, but why does no hotel here seem to look at energy management and efficiency? It'd be great if you can do a post on the same. As things like automation, lighting and even green architecture comes into this.

    1. Thanks for the idea. Green design in case of (mainstream) hotels is a very challenging topic, but will try to cover some of it in the near future, insh'allah.

  4. Thanks for sharing this site, it is very informative for the business personals.Keep on continuing with this. Hotel Design Curvehospitality provides extensive range of Casegoods,Seating,Lighting,Artwork,Bathroom fixtures,Electronics,Drapery and Flooring.It saving valuable space.

  5. This article would be a great help for those who are business enthusiasts specially the people whose passion are in the hotel-related works. But as a tourist, I would always consider the clean bathroom that is my first concern and there should be TV so when I am bored and not into going out then I would stay in the hotel watching TV. The coffee shop is also good in the hotel.

  6. Thanks for this idea.. I will share this to my friend who is doing construction business in Dubai.