I often travel to New York City, and I have recently started the search for a small pied-a-terre to lessen the frenetic and loathsome lines at the hotel check-in. In between going to seasonal home furnishings and accessories shows and yearly designer showcase, I am always left with the desire to have New York feel more like home. So it gives me a case of the giggles when I hear clients request that they want their homes to feel more like a hotel. They want the Hotel Experience. Really? I guess it's a case of what Oscar Wilde coined "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life".
Funny thing is that most hospitality designers strive to give hotel rooms a more home-like feel and approach in the details of their designs. Today's hip and current hotels go the extra mile to provide an experience rather than just a place to sleep. Personalization is a key player here, and hotels will sometimes follow a reservation with a questionnaire or survey to find out personal preferences that they can provide. This may include anything from newspapers and magazine to floral arrangements and fruit bowls. Specialized services and products is something that hotels market such as blanket turn-down, menus with different types of pillows, and mattresses that guarantee a good night sleep, so that you can have the "Hotel Experience" at home.
At home by design means that you will start to find unexpected textures, mix-and-match furniture, diverse wall treatments and tiles, rather than a uniform room style or layout...so each time you stay your experience can be like staying in someone's home rather than a hotel.
The home away from home concept requires less front desk standing counter and are being replaced with smaller more intimate desks and/or check-ins by tablet carrying staff. The evolution of hotel lobbies as a living room more than a mere receiving hall can be seen in increased seating and seemingly haphazard small groupings of chairs and tables as one would expect in a private home. It is not surprising that books abound in lobbies as they would normally in a personal library or home, so you can read while you sip your tea or coffee.
Another strong component in hospitality design is storytelling. Storytelling in design can either be fictional or non-fictional. Some hotels may choose to create a design to express a lifestyle or fictional character and will carry the design through its property and details. Hotels within a historical setting or if the property is historical, the design may be driven by the story, and may choose to incorporate design elements original to the building or the historical account.
An apple a day is what the doctor ordered, but he or she may have also suggested a gym, a steam bath, an in-room massage, a special diet and even an in-room visit from the doctor. These are some of the touches that hotels are adding to make your stay feel more at home. So the next time you hear someone say they want the Hotel Design Experience, it goes beyond white starched sheets, perhaps they want you to design their house more like a home.