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Hotel Room Design

Whatever happened to “form follows function”? NDA has been on the move this year in Turkey, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and India and the one thing that tends to stand out is how function seems to be sacrificed for form in new hotel rooms. Has anyone else had the same problems?


It’s easier to accept design issues in older, established hotels but those constructed in the last year or two really have no excuse for the faux pas delivered. High on the list of pet hates is the positioning of plugs and sockets. In one very good hotel in Dubai I was upgraded to a suite only to find that the socket for the hair dryer could barely reach a mirror to see what I was doing and there was no seeing in the vicinity. In India you clearly had to be right handed to use the hair dryer, positioned over the bath, which had to stretch to the mirror for a left handed person! In another hotel, the only socket for the computer was across the pathway to the bathroom and another located the socket in the desk on which I wanted to place my computer.

 Helen KeighleyI recently came across a new problem which thankfully is less common. How can you design a hotel room with nowhere for clothes? There was half a wardrobe with a few coat hangers for 2 people’s clothes, so for 6 days we lived out of a suitcase. The room was delightful, curved windows, electric curtains, TV speaker in the bathroom but nowhere to put your clothes.

Lighting is perhaps the other main bone of contention for the moment. Lighting design is all part of the aesthetics and they all seem to understand that but function takes a back seat. In one room I had to use a torch to find clothes in the wardrobe (this one did have shelves) but the black wood combined with dim lighting meant that you couldn’t see anything at night or early morning. In a recent room there was a wall mounted magnifying mirror, always appreciated when eyesight is not what it used to be, but relatively useless unless used in conjunction with a light! A current trend is to make bathrooms virtually part of the hotel room either with clear or opaque glass between. This is fine for the single user and does provide the luxury of watching TV in the bath but what about usage at night when there is more than one person in the room.

I’m sure I could go on and I have to say that many of these hotels offered fantastic views and excellent service but design is close to our heart here at NDA and I know our students do much better and don’t make these obvious mistakes. I expect many of you have had similar experiences so let us know about your pet hates and help our current students to ensure they don’t make the same ones.

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