HOTEL GUESTROOM DESIGN 101





Before starting the interior layout of a hotel guest room, it’s imperative to identify the specific needs of the target market and the features and amenities these customers want and expect. The target market should be identified through a market study. A business customer wants something different than a leisure customer.


A business customer typically stays for 1-2 nights, needs just one King bed, and is somewhat price insensitive. They need lounge seating with a good work area. A family on vacation typically wants two beds or adjoining rooms, a large compartmentalized bathroom so multiple people can use it simultaneously, and a balcony or outdoor area. A family’s stay is typically 1-4 nights, and they’re price conscious. A couple on vacation typically want a king bed, a dining area, writing surface, moderate storage, and a compartmentalized bathroom. A couple’s stay is typically 1-7 nights, and couples want a more upscale or luxurious space. A single person on vacation typically wants one bed, a standard sized bathroom, and a mid-priced room.


The most common room width for the past several decades has been 12 feet, initially adopted as a standard in the mid-1950’s by the Holiday Inn chain. It was able to accommodate two double beds and a desk or dresser on the opposite wall with an adequate aisle in between. When older buildings are turned into hotels, the size of some rooms are sometimes smaller where they’re limited by architectural constraints. Guestroom dimensions are fairly standardized for different quality levels of hotels or resorts. Budget chains have lightly reduced the size of the 12 foot by 18 foot mid-priced room in order to lower construction costs, shortening it to between 14 and 16 feet. Increasing the width of the room to 13 or 13-1/2 feet permits one major change: a king-size bed can be positioned again the bathroom wall instead of the side wall, allowing for a larger variety of other furnishing arrangements.


Generally, there’s little advantage to increasing the guestroom width beyond 13-1/2 feet wide. However, at a room width of 16 feet or more a new set of design alternatives arises: The bed or beds can be positioned against one side wall with the lounge or work area against the opposite wall. Also, the greater width permits unusually luxurious bathroom arrangements, often with four or five fixtures as well as a large entry vestibule.


The bed is the primary defining element of a room. Generally, hotels include a mix of rooms with one king bed, two queen or double beds, and suites of various types. The selection of the proper room mix is important because it influences the hotel’s ability to rent 100 percent of its rooms and to generate the maximum revenue. Rooms with more flexibility are desirable for this reason. A room with two double beds is more flexible than a king. A king bed with a convertible sofa is attractive to a single business person but can be converted to a family use.


Furniture, fixtures, and equipment are proposed by the interior designer once the general layout is determined. These items use about half of the total interior design budget. Costs range from about $4k to $20k per room depending on the quality level of the property. Lower priced rooms have very basic furniture, base-grade carpet, painted walls, inexpensive light fixtures, and case goods with plastic laminate finish. Higher priced rooms have a sumptuous feel with luxurious fabrics, wood veneer casegoods, and elevated wall finishes, light fixtures, etc. The sheer number of guest rooms requires that the designer be particularly conscious of seeking economies in the selection of the FF&E. Because of their importance in influencing the guests’ perception of the hotel as well a these cost factors, developers usually build a full-scale mock-up to test the design before purchasing the FF&E.


In selecting furniture and finishes, important considerations are durability, cost, and ease of cleanability. The latter is something that is often not considered by many designers. How quickly the furniture and finishes can be cleaned greatly affects the bottom line due to the high cost of labor and the high volume of rooms. Furniture and wall finishes should not be too detailed. Ideally, they should be smooth and non-porous with rounded edges. Bedspreads and blankets should be washable and not require drycleaning. In the bathroom, toilets and vanities should be wall-hung so the floor can be quickly mopped. As with any project, achieving the right balance between functionality and aesthetics if often a challenge, and an experienced designer will know how to achieve the desired look and feel without sacrificing functionality.