Design quirks to amuse – and annoy – travelers

I just returned from a vacation. I stayed most of the time in small boutique hotels with less than 20 rooms. I love these small hotels because they are very personal and make you feel at home away from home. Another thing I love is the lack of professionalism. Sometimes it’s annoying, sometimes charming, sometimes it’s just funny. To be welcomed by an untrained, bumbling person who is extremely friendly and dedicated can be a much nicer experience than to be welcomed by friendly, well-trained staff using the standard repertoire of phrases.

The lack of professionalism in most cases is reflected in the design. Some of these hotels are brilliantly designed by excellent architects and designers.

However, the designers either did not have the specific knowledge about requirements for hotels or they did not care. They did also not get guidance by the owners – in most cases the owners are also the operators. Most of the time the owners also lack the knowledge to specify and design the details for a hotel. They build the hotel the way they think a hotel should be and assume that the guests like it. As said above, this can be annoying, charming or amusing. Charming aspects mostly are operational issues – the bumbling receptionist as an example.

Annoying are all ideas to create open bathrooms. Sometimes I wonder, if the people who design them would also want to stay in such a hotel room. In one of the hotels I stayed in, you enter the room more or less through the bathroom. Not a bad idea if the toilets were not free-standing in the room and are the first thing you see when you enter.

The first view of the guest room
The first view of the guest room

Bathrooms are often equipped with sliding doors in order to save space. However, the sound insulation for sliding doors is more difficult and expensive than for normal doors. Most of the sliding doors do not stop noise or smell from the bathroom.

Finally, one amusing example: In this hotel room, the mirror was placed in the wardrobe – behind the clothes hangers. You have to remove the clothes to be able to see yourself in the mirror!