The travel and hospitality sector was reaching heady heights before the Pandemic abruptly stopped it in its tracks. As in many sectors the extensive lockdown has given the industry time to reflect and renew.

 

Up until now you could walk into almost any hotel chain room with a blindfold on and find your way around. The TV screen slap bang opposite the bed, a desk beneath, a fridge to the left and a chair to the right, an obligatory picture over the bed and not enough room to do a decent yoga pose. There would be enough hard surfaces to batter and bruise most body parts and the icing on the cake would be a small table with a matching chair that is virtually unusable because of space limitations. In some ways there is a certain feeling of security in the ‘known’ but when it comes to comfort and excitement this kind of hotel experience has to rate very low on a scale of one to ten.

 

But, the industry had been changing for some while now, all because of those little places we call boutique hotels. The boom of Air B&B and more recently our enforced staycations has all heightened our interest in a design concept known as ‘resicommercial’.

Resicommercial  (residential/commercial) is a movement to make commercial spaces more like home and is the topic of conversation in almost every commercial sector these days. Why? because we have discovered that people work better and rest better if they have the comforts of home around them. You may not necessarily consider a hotel as a commercial space but they are most definitely treated as such when it comes to planning and design, the result being a cookie cutter formula that essentially works well but leaves the guest with a very forgettable hotel room experience.

 

Although the move towards making hotel rooms more homely has been around for a little while it is the Pandemic perhaps that has increased the hotels industry’s interest in creating a home-like experience. Having spent so much time in the comfort of our own homes it is likely that when we eventually emerge from lockdown we will miss it. Another factor that has pushed designers away from the traditional hotel room has to be the boon in Air B&B vacations. People not only find this form of vacationing affordable but they most certainly enjoy the niceties of a home away from home… and perhaps there is a little bit in all of us that delights in the opportunity to see the way others live, gathering ideas and inspiration along the way?

 

Designing a resicommercial or home-like hotel room is not necessarily difficult or more expensive, it just takes a little more creativity and planning. Some advice from a reputable retailer or industry experienced contractor would not go amiss as they can steer you towards residential style furnishings that are still up to the rigours and safety standards of commercial use.

 

When you think about it, a residential home evolves over the years and it is rare that you would go out and buy all your furniture all at one time. A lot of pieces are gathered along the way and they tell a story… one or two things from your childhood home, granny’s corner cabinet, pieces from your vacations, and that coffee table you just fell in love with in the market. All of these things create interest and make it ‘homely.’ But how do we replicate this feeling of home in our hotel rooms? Well, first of all we need to scrap all those generic fitted pieces, let soft replace hard and go for eclectic over matching.

 

It’s easy to spot the differences between a commercially designed hotel room and a regular bedroom by spending a few minutes looking at the elements in your own home that would not typically exist in a hotel room. Take away the hard wooden commercial headboard with integrated bedside tables and replace them with free standing nightstands and comfortable padded headboard. Forget the rock-hard ‘orthopaedic bed’ which you hoped would last years and go for a cozy pocket spring mattress which matches the comfort of home – many bed manufacturers now produce them for hotel use.  Replace the featureless wall mirror with a cheval or a collection of attractively framed mirrors on the wall, add layers of throws to the bed and scatter cushions. Place a bench or small sofa at the end of the bed to provide a place to sit and put on shoes or to rest a suitcase. Swap out the perfunctory hard plastic chair with an adjustable desk chair, or go the other way and provide a stylish wing chair that you can snuggle up in and read a book. Choose interesting lamps and lighting that add to the ambiance of the room rather than just illuminate it. Move away from the industrial weight blackout curtains and pick window treatments that are a little softer in design and feel… many still are able to block light effectively. Make sure that your choice of art work is purposeful and relates to the building or to the area. Historic photos or scenes by local artists add to the general ambiance and gives a sense of ‘place.’ Add a few books to the bedside that are of local interest. Think about local crafts, are you in a pottery town, a wood carving area or a steel city? Let it show in the things you choose for your rooms. Don’t match furniture pieces too much but coordinate them.

 

The the emphasis should be on relevance, finishing touches and colour. Texture is king, have plenty of it… leather, fur, wood, chrome and stone… faux is okay. Carpeting should be easy to clean, yet plush and luxurious underfoot.  If you want hard flooring then real wood, bamboo or an interestingly patterned luxury vinyl tile would be an excellent choice with a few deep piled rugs placed around for both coziness and style.

 

Be passionate with colour. Whether you choose a super desaturated look or opt for bold colours, do it purposefully. Don’t be afraid of wallpapers which add interest and oceans of personality. Why not go for a different approach in each room giving each an alternative look? Your guests will be intrigued to know what lies behind each door. The final touch would be to give your rooms names rather than numbers.

 

Realizing the need to the blend these two worlds of home and industry, we are now seeing many residential brands begin to creep into our commercial spaces in a way that they have not done so before. The results are changing the face of the hospitality industry as we know it and making for more comfortable, more memorable and more exciting hotel experiences across our beautiful country. However, you should know that not all domestic furniture and flooring is up to the wear and tear of a heavily used hotel or guest house, nor is it necessarily up to the safety standards required for this kind of  use – so it would be well to consult a furniture retailer or contractor you trust as to which furnishing styles, furniture pieces or flooring type would be best to create the effect you desire.