For that touch of luxury in the bathroom, where better to look for inspiration that the hotel sector, where strong design ideas and high-end specification make all the difference…
For prospective guests looking for a hotel, it used to be very much all about the bedroom. Photos on hotel booking sites used to focus just on this aspect of the stay – together with perhaps a neatly posed picture of the check-in desk – but now, certainly for the top-end, the bathroom has taken on a new emphasis.
Darren Paxford, National Sales Manager at VitrA, says: “In recent years, the expectations from consumers on hotel bathrooms have risen dramatically. Designers are faced with the task of meeting these expectations, whilst also considering the practicalities of a hotel space and meeting a budget. Guests are now looking for their bathroom to provide them with a luxury experience, whether it’s the treat of a luxury duo walk-in monsoon shower, or an indulgently large bath.”
He adds that the general look and style of the whole space has to feel modern and decadent with beautiful taps, striking mirrors and ‘wow factor’ vanity units and basins. “It’s easy to see how much influence this has on bookings,” he adds. “You just have to look at hotel websites. Now many hotels will provide pictures and name the brands of the key features found within their bathroom as it can help luxury and boutique hotels set themselves apart from chains, and attract discerning customers.”
When it comes to the design approach, there are certainly parallels between the hotel and residential sectors. Georgina Spencer, Marketing Manager at Roca, points out: “The hotel bathroom has a lot in common with its domestic counterpart, not just in terms of creating a spa-like, relaxing sanctuary, but also in creating an individual finish with a sense of character that sets them apart from the competition.
“Just as bathrooms sell houses, first impressions of a hotel are very often won or lost in the bathroom, so it’s important that designers get the look and feel of this space spot on.”
Consumers seem to be attaching a greater importance to the role of the bathroom in the home, not just for its functionality but also its holistic benefits for unwinding and retreating from the stresses of modern day life.
Lynn Dale, National Sales Manager at Keramag Design, says: “Bathrooms are being designed to balance the practical needs of hopping in the power shower before work with being a serene space to have a leisurely soak in a statement bath. Ultimately, everyone wants to integrate the luxury experience that they get from a hotel stay into their own home, with the ability to ‘treat’ themselves every day.”
As well as the style points, there are of course practical issues that apply specifically to hotel bathrooms too. David Osborne, Managing Director at Roman, says: “Cleaning regulations in hotels mean that bath screens must be cleaned from the outside without stepping into the bath and hotels have furniture alongside the bath therefore the bath screen needs to lock at 90 degrees to avoid bathroom fixtures and fittings.”
It is for both practicality and aesthetic reasons that surface materials are a vital part of the hotel bathroom specification. Traditionally, for the luxury end of the market this has meant luxury stone and textured surfaces. However, there are now real alternatives according to Stuart White, Managing Director at Bushboard. “Laminate wall panels have never been a stronger contender as a design choice than they are now because high definition printing and surface texture innovation means that they can authentically mirror the look of real stone and marble, while also offering a significant cost benefit, no ongoing maintenance and are easier and lightweight to install. The panels can also be fitted in a true wetroom environment if desired, and without any distracting extrusions, which overcomes for many designers what has historically been a major drawback of laminate in bathrooms.”
As the boundaries between high-end hotel and domestic bathroom design continue to blur, consumers will increasingly be looking to replicate the very best in holiday luxury in their own homes, raising the bar for designers everywhere.