Hotel Bathrooms: Design Challenges to Overcome — Photo by Bizzmark

While on the surface, hotel bathrooms look all fairly standardized and uniform with a logical arrangement of the showers, sinks, toilets and towel hangers at hand, the truth is that interior space designers often have to overcome unexpected challenges, whether the project is a new build, renovation, or adaptation. Not only does space need to meet the latest hospitality standards, guest demands, and brand policies, but every facet of the room, pardon the pun, requires a range of logistic solutions. Here are a few rules of a successful hotel bathroom design.

Using features to your advantage

While working on transformation of the Los Angeles historic Mayfair Hotel between 2016 and 2017, the city-based architect and designer Gulla Jonsdottir decided not to move the original plumbing, a task which would require many delays and extra costs, so she focused their efforts to transforming small 1920s style powder rooms into modern bathrooms that would appeal to the hotel's guests today. In order to make spaces brighter, she used all-white tile on walls and used broken pieces of black tile to design unique decorative patterns, something similar to what Gaudi did in Park Güell in Barcelona.

Getting the water pressure right

The Ironworks Hotel in Indianapolis is a perfect example of a new-build property that drew inspiration from the 19th-century vibe. Sue Griffin, director of interior design at Hendricks Commercial Properties, decided to go with rain shower heads which would offer guests a spa-like experience. However, in order for a rain shower head to be effective, you need good water pressure. The advantage of new-builds is that you can think of that ahead of time, while renovated hotels require a bit of retracing and re-configuring the 'water guts' to achieve sufficient pressure. Water pressure also needs to be consistent on all floors, which can be an issue depending on the way the pipes were laid.

The importance of drain

While walk-in showers and rain shower heads have their spa-like appeal, they might make things complicated on the other end of the tube - the draining system, especially if the designer has envisaged the drain hidden off to the side of a shower stall, instead of in the middle. Effective drainage ensures that the person using a shower isn't standing in a puddle of water all the time. This can be avoided in the tile-laying phase. Choose a reputable ceramics installer who knows how to angle both the floor and the shower tray so that all the water runs where it's supposed to.

Providing enough hot water

Since hotels lately have increasingly turned away from bathtubs to showers, it means that every guest needs to get a hot shower within seconds. A large hotel might use up to 10 heat exchangers, most of which are redundant but ready to fire up in the morning and evening. The 30-year-old Crowne Plaza in Melbourne, Australia managed to reduce its electricity consumption by 29% by replacing ineffective atmospheric boilers with modern automated solutions. Such achievements are hardly possible without expert installers. For instance, these Canberra-based experts for hot water systems are specialized in discovering possible faults early on, potentially saving their clients thousands by nipping the problem in the bud.

Green considerations

Bathrooms are accounted for a lion's share in a hotel's environmental footprint. However, technologies have become so advance in the last few years that it's possible to reduce the water consumption and still provide a superb guest experience. While traditional toilets used up to 13 litres of water per flush, newer economical models rarely use more than 5. In the following years, connected technology will change the way hotels operate, so for example an integrated management system might signal the building manager that a faucet number two in the fifth-floor restroom is leaking continually.

Effective ventilation

Although ventilation might not be one of the first three considerations when designing a hotel bathroom, it should definitely be considered in the initial stages. Hotels typically use a central funnel to ventilate their guest rooms. Since the fan is on the roof, the upper floors receive better ventilation than the lower floors. Installing a fan in every bathroom helps enforce consistent ventilation, as well as reducing humidity and the possibility of the appearance of mould. In addition, the rooftop fan can be smaller, as every bathroom controls the amount of air being drawn out individually.

Lighting and mirrors

Lighting is essential in hotel bathrooms, not only for maintaining ambience, but also because that's where the guests are most likely to do detailed grooming like shaving, plucking eyebrows, or applying makeup. In addition to bathroom lighting, you may consider installing backlit mirrors. These illuminated mirrors seem to be a consistent design trend with unmatched functionality, as they provide a perfect distribution of light on the guest's face in bathrooms that typically don't benefit from the natural light.

While on the outside they look simple and straight forward, behind every hotel bathroom design there was a ton of logistic problems that had to be solved in order to provide a seamless and pleasant stay from a cheapest single room to a presidential suite.