At Marina Sezam, we’re in the habit of visiting different hotels on a weekly basis, where we analyse their lobbies and determine which elements work in the space and which ones could potentially be eliminated without affecting the overall quality of the space.
Below, we’ll explain the general conclusions that we’ve reached as a result of our different hotel visits. We won’t refer to any of the places we visited in particular, but will instead evaluate the main elements that each space is composed of, including:
Sources of natural light
Undoubtedly, the best hotel lobbies are the ones that have large, natural light sources. If additionally these light sources provide us with a view of the outdoors, the space can be considered all the more impressive.
If choosing between natural views and those of an urban environment, the former option without a doubt provides us with a sense of wellbeing that is superior to the latter. That being said, it’s also true that urban hotels whose lobbies have entryways located in a city square, on a pedestrian street, an emblematic avenue or near glamorous boutiques, in turn provide visitors with the immediate sensation that they are immersed in the life and movement of the city they’re visiting. This is a very attractive element for the kind of tourist who seeks to get to know a city beyond its popular buildings and tourist attractions.
If the lobby in question doesn’t have large windows or attractive views, the next best option is to focus on the lobby’s interior design. This includes the materials and furniture that make up the lobby’s interior space, which can be combined to achieve a maximum sense of wellbeing and provide visitors with an agreeable and welcoming sensation upon arrival.
Normally, though not always, a hotel’s general style is consistent with the number of stars it boasts, in addition to the cost of its rooms. This means that generally the more stars a hotel has, the more luxurious the design of its spaces will be.
How can we perceive luxury in the interior space of a hotel?
From what we’ve observed, we’ve been able to identify that luxurious lobbies tend to have:
- Big doors and large glass windows, textured finishing and restored mouldings
- Large lamps
- Polished natural wood or stone flooring
- Carpets with patterns in classic tones
- Richly panelled ceilings, painted with frescoes or designed to provide indirect lighting effects
- Solid wood furniture
- Leather or velvet sofas and armchairs
- Gold or lacquered touches used in doorknobs, handles and other decorative objects
For those of us at Marina Sezam, understanding and perceiving the luxury of a hotel is very important. Yet, on the other hand, the comfort and beauty of a space are also essential elements, and for this reason we decided to take a look at these aspects as well. In our opinion, lobbies that are beautiful are those that use a light colour palette, as well as floorings and coatings made of natural materials (such as wood, stone, and ceramics, as well as wool or linen for fabrics). Cosy lobbies provide a sense of comfort by offering pleasant and calming meeting areas and use lighting that is not overly bright and at the same time isn’t too dim either.
We’re generally not fans of the false ceiling overlays used by hotels to hide indirect lighting because these overlays oftentimes seem artificial and create a forced effect. On the other hand, we do approve of ceilings whose original appearance has been recovered, including ceilings with paintings, mouldings, vaults and wood beams. We also like ceilings that provide acoustic warmth and comfort by using wooden solutions, such as slatted wood, solid wood or wood shavings.
It is hard for us to wrap our heads around why synthetic panels are used so frequently in hotels, since in our opinion, they can be easily eliminated without damaging the design of a space, and oftentimes when removed, the space is improved upon. Instead of synthetic materials, we prefer options such as wood panels, strategically placed mirrors, vinyl coatings with a pleasant look and touch, glass panels with iron or wood profiles, and textiles.
Hotel flooring should be versatile, neutral and should complement the building and the rooms where it is used. We’ve seen very expensive carpets in large luxury hotels that are truly terrible and create a general sense of unpleasantness. A similar aesthetic effect, providing a superior result can be achieved by using a mixture of mosaics and woodwork.
Whether modern or antique, in order to provide a sense of comfort and quality, tables and chairs must be solid, ergonomic and comfortable.
We prefer smooth leather upholstery that doesn’t use tacks or pleats. We also like textiles with complex patterns achieved with detailed spinning, yet in sober tones, whether light or intense. The same concepts apply to the curtains.
In general, we tend to prefer matte materials and surfaces, but the shine of some polished materials such as porcelain, enamels, and metals, can sometimes be used with great success, but only if treated with care and not overly abused.
Lights and lamps
If the space allows, a large lamp can be an effective decorative element that can bring a lot of personality to a space. In some of the hotels we visited, the lamp that was hanging from the lobby ceiling was the defining element that helped us remember that particular hotel after the fact. For this reason, we can affirm that certain lamps can really be very noteworthy and can come to be a main identifying element in a hotel.
In addition to having decorative lamps, indirect lighting that emphasizes different reliefs and surfaces can create an interesting and peaceful lighting effect that is different from what we are normally used to seeing in our homes, which can be very pleasant for hotel guests.
Lastly, a good hotel lobby should include lamps and lighting for reading and other specific needs, near and around meeting areas where there are sofas or armchairs. When these focal points of light don’t exist, a lobby is perceived as a general space that is beautiful and interesting overall, but that doesn’t recognise the different needs of the people who pass through it. This, in effect, causes the lobby space to lose its character, personality and above all, sense of comfort.
We like plants in all of their varieties and tonalities and we think that they are essential if we want to create a fresh, carefree and friendly atmosphere that reunites us with our most human side. Coatings, lighting and decoration can all be used to enhance effects and even awaken our emotions, but plants provide a living space with an organic element and natural charm that grows spontaneously through its own imperfections.
It is these imperfections that are necessary for a space to be truly beautiful and not just to be perceived as a mere exhibition of beautiful materials and objects.