Design: Hotel bathrooms – why so little thought?

Why is it that, unless you’re staying in a eye-wateringly expensive boutique venue, hotel bathrooms are so relentlessly poor in the UK? When Head Office allocates the budget, £x for glossy brochures, £x for fancy foyer, £x for bland corporate decor, what voice in their head says Naaaaaa, don’t bother putting any real thought into the bathroom design, let’s spend money on new pebbles for the ‘spa’ instead. I just don’t get it. For £90 a night, I expect a certain standard to my bathrooms. On the financial side alone, this equates to £2700 per month income. If you were to rent an apartment at £2700 per month, what would you expect the bathroom to look like? Yup that’s right… something a little like these maybe, from Scarlet Opus’s latest bathroom blog:

Moodboard courtesy of Scarlet Opus

The image at the top is the bathroom at the Wrightington Hotel and Country Club, which is where we were bumped to when last weekend’s wedding venue MacDonald Kilhey Court allowed us to book and confirm a room on their web-site then when we turned up an hour before our friends’ wedding to get changed etc, told us there were no rooms. Stress. Charles the manager was lovely and charming but we were without a relaxing place to get ready, didn’t have our stuff with us at the hotel and then had to wait 45 minutes for a taxi at the end of the night to stay somewhere no other guests were staying. Rubbish. Waited another 45 minutes in the morning for a cab back to the Kilhey and by that time had missed everyone at breakfast. Had the Wrightington been top notch at least that would have made up for it…. however it was noisy, full of drunken guests and had rude late night staff. Which brings me back to the bathroom.

Now, on first inspection above it looks ok. Spacious room gets top marks, with decent looking tiles, lots of shelving to put your ‘bits’ and diffused halogen lighting which is way better for make-up application than normal bathroom spots 8/10:

Some thought had gone into providing not only a heated towl rail at the end of the bath, but also a contemporary chrome towel rail above that to also catch the heat from below. The bath was double ended for a bit of romance, nice touch, with stylish centrally wall mounted taps 7/10…..

But, you couldn’t swing the screen out due to the shelf next to it, so lost a few marks for that. Anyone sitting at the screen in feels a bit hemmed in…..4/10

They’d opted for a bowl type basin mounted on a shelf. These can look great but need to be big enough for the room which this one wasn’t really. There was serious over-splash, very annoying when your toiletries get wet through, and the tap sticks out too far into the bowl so you bang your hands on them and cupping water for rinsing your face isn’t practical. 3/10

Whoever had fitted the towel rail didn’t think to put the element into the left hand side of the rail near the spur, meaning a long, unattractive trailing wire which also gets caught in the towels, 3/10

Uhh ohhhh, then it got worse. Because the shelf under the basin was so long and butted up against the shower screen, lazy cleaners don’t bother to check down the side so all the grime from previous guests had built up…. 0/10

And finally poor sealant round the edge of the room and more lazy cleaning under the basin are on the floor, a big, fat Whaaa Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa…0/10

It’s not bloody rocket science is it, especially when hotel chains invariably employ a whole raft of designers, architects, builders and site managers to factor out problems such as these. I’m not claiming every bathroom I’ve ever designed has been 10/10 perfect, but when you’re charging £2,700 per month, they should be as near as dammit 😉

Think I may apply for a job as a hotel inspector, there is a LOT of work out there!


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