Monday, September 5, 2011

Design Hotels - the 5 things they get wrong

I love the idea of design hotels - little boutique hotels that have an aesthetic to be admired, sometimes quirky, sometimes cutting edge.

The problem is that they always fall down on the basics:
  1. Inadequate bathroom lighting - as a man who shaves - you need good light - and I am sure the same is true for putting on makeup
  2. No, or too few drawers. In my experience travelers are either unpackers, or live-out-of-the-suitcase types (see below). So why should my underwear or electronic cables litter the room, when a simple drawer would solve the problem.
  3. Never anywhere to put your unpacked cases - so you have unpacked, and you still have to place the cases somewhere annoyingly inconvenient in the room, thus destroying the clean designer lines
  4. Too many sharp corners in inconvenient places. I'm talking about the corners on my bed base that I keep on banging my shins on in a certain Hotel Brick in Mexico City, not to mention almost every piece of furniture at the Adelphi in Melbourne.
  5. Attitude - sometimes you feel like the staff are doing you a favour in their Armani/D&G suits. Think Paramount, and The Standard in New York.
But there is good news. Design hotels often exceed in other areas such as:
  1. Free high speed internet access. Design hotels have worked out that we live in a connected world and expect to be connected all the time. they also realize that charging for it would be like charging extra for pillows
  2. Having a happening bar is an asset. And preferably having a good restaurant - or even both is an essential for those who want to experience the new in a destination.
  3. Good design - like The Standard in New York - where the rooms are small but perfectly formed. All the press goes to the floor to ceiling windows, but forgets the brilliantly designed lounge/coffee/dining table/work desk arrangement.
I'm not going to abandon either chain or designer hotels - both have their place. Chain hotels need to be more personal, and designer hotels need to up their service game.

I'll tell you when I find the perfect mix.

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