Article Summary:

Hotel designers say some owners are willing to spend more for guestroom bathroom design that meets guest demand by being functional, yet luxurious.

Primary Category: Design

Secondary Categories: Americas, News

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hotel guests are signaling that they want more from their guestroom bathroom, which is challenging hotel owners to seek design that is luxurious, whether the property is luxury or not.

Jocelyn Ramos, intermediate designer at Puccini Group, said via email guests want comfort in bathroom design, as well as a luxurious, spa-like experience.

That doesn’t stop at the luxury segment, said Seth Huxel, interior designer at Puccini Group. Today’s guests are looking at guest bathrooms to be “a luxurious experience across all segments,” he said in an email interview.

“Midscale properties are willing to spend the extra dollars on the upscale fittings in the restroom and perhaps forego some of the expensive elements in the (guestroom),” Huxel said. “Luxury properties are continuing to push what indulgence means in the restroom design and want to start integrating the ‘wow’ factors of the main spaces into the restroom area as well.”

Minimal design
Huxel said layout of guestroom bathrooms remains minimal, with the focus on creating a functional, user-centered experience.

But minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean bare bones. He said more details are “starting to arise because, at the end of the day, guests still want to be inspired,” and an “empty white box” doesn’t quite cut it.

While neutral bathrooms will always convey a clean and functional feel, playing it too safe can be “disenchanting for the guest experience,” he said.

He said a nuance in the construction of a case good or a baseboard that’s uniquely displayed and expressed can help elevate the design just enough to “stay simple, yet exciting.”

The S’Astore Hotel & Ristorante, located in Sardinia and designed by Wilson Associates' Los Angeles studio, features a unique but minimal sink design and a standing shower. (Photo: Wilson Associates)

Ramos said vanities now have less storage but more detailing in the framing and larger counter space. Smaller standing showers with a rain showerhead are another trend she has noticed, she said.

Dwayne MacEwen, principal at DMAC Architecture, said minimalist design should focus on the “importance of good design and less about a prescribed aesthetic.”

“Simplicity is not simple,” he said. “Everything matters.”

He said DMAC carries out this minimalist design approach in its hotel bathroom and guestroom projects by understanding the “ergonomic, functional and aesthetic value and finding smart and purposeful design solutions that serve the needs.”

His firm will test custom designs like “a metal frame with an integrated doorstop that doubles as a robe hook or a vanity support that also serves as a toiletries shelf and toilet paper holder” by building full-scale mockups,” he said.

Kristina Odell, architectural designer at The McBride Company, suggests more classic, neutral finishes with a combination of contemporary geometric shapes “and really playing up the metal finishes for the faucet, hardware or bathroom accessories, whether it’s black brass or champagne.”

Another important consideration, she said, is the ease to clean and maintain these finishes.

“We want our designs to remain clean and fresh for as long as possible. That may mean staying away from overly ornate pieces, complicated trim profiles that are hard to clean, porous materials that need regular maintenance, etc.,” she said.

A shift toward more privacy
Designers have noticed a shift toward more privacy with an enclosed toilet room within the bathrooms, whereas before the trend was less privacy between the bedroom and bathroom, according to Odell.

“These changes stem from how we travel (leisure versus business), who we are traveling with (families, significant others, coworker) and even length of stay,” she said. “Hotels will continue to adapt and follow these needs and trends to keep their designs updated.”

Huxel said his clients also are asking for “vestibules and makeup areas that are separate from the sink vanities.”

“For a while, the residential trend was that a toilet room would be separate from the sink and shower areas, and now that experience is being sought out again,” he said.

While open spaces can be beautiful and airy, “users want to compartmentalize the functions of restroom fixtures,” he added.

Social media is playing a role in raising awareness among hotel owners to the power of a unique design experience, Huxel said. Being able to give guests a private space to “snap a photo” is something owners are aware of, he said.

Technology and going green
Erni Taslim, associate design director at Wilson Associates’ Los Angeles studio, said technology increasingly has been integrated into the guest bathroom, evolving into the “smart bathroom.”

Travelers are looking “for the same connectivity and automation that they would find from their smart-home devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home,” she said.

The smart technology can vary from controlling bathroom lighting to a more complex and luxury technology interface, such as a smart mirror or a voice-activated digital shower, she said.

Not only can technology ease the guest experience, the integration of technology in bathrooms is “benefiting the environment in a major way by optimizing water usage and electric conservation,” Taslim said.

“It’s a win-win for all—luxury and convenience for the guest and cost efficiency for the hotel owners and operators,” she said.

MacEwen added that the use of faux materials is also a trend in conserving limited resources, and in many cases “the faux materials outperform the real.”

“The abundance of large-format porcelain tiles is testament to a product that is easier to maintain and performs better in a commercial environment than its real counterpart,” he said.

The guestroom bathrooms at Hotel at Midtown in Chicago, which DMAC Architecture designed, are wrapped in “sequenced large-format porcelain with floor-to-ceiling slabs with continuous veining folding from one panel to the next, slipping in and out of the glass shower.”

That creates a classic look while offering easy maintenance and a timeless and refreshing aesthetic, MacEwen said.

Taslim said more hotels have also incorporated sustainable and reclaimed materials like terrazzo for the bathroom surface, replacing the typical choice of marble.

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Headline: Luxurious bathroom design not limited to luxury hotels

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