5 Hospitality Design Mistakes that are Common (but Avoidable)

Artone hospitality design 

Even the best hoteliers have made hospitality design mistakes (maybe you’re a hospitality pro who can attest to this).

For any well-travelled individual, the hotel guestroom experience can start to become less than memorable - each guestroom could be in any hotel, anywhere in the world. Even the most creative hoteliers have fallen into the routine of thinking “standards” when it comes to guestroom configuration, design, and aesthetics.

Industry experts say more mistakes happen in guest rooms than anywhere else within the hotel. Such missteps and oversights are regrettable, yet avoidable, considering how much time, effort, and planning go into crafting comfortable and inviting accommodations.

Common Mistakes in Hospitality Design Projects

Let’s break down some of the most common ones we’ve seen. (Hint: You’ll be surprised how many of these involve furniture.) 

1. Poor Lighting

Shine some light on the situation. All areas of the guestroom should have adequate lighting with a direct, dedicated lighting sources. Improved lighting serves to enhance the guestroom experience and provide a sense of security. For example, the following techniques should to implemented whenever possible:

  • A lamp for the desk
  • One between chairs in the seating area
  • Reading lights at bed that are individually controlled
  • Closet light that turns on automatically when door is opened
  • Entrance/exit lighting
  • Ample bathroom lighting
  • Dimmer switches on each light source

(Related reading: Have You Planned Accordingly for Your FF&E Installation?)

Sometimes having enough lighting in the proper places isn’t enough. Technology today makes it easier than ever to optimize lighting based on guest preferences. You can install:

  • Circadian rhythm lighting, which mimics natural sun cycles to improve alertness, memory, and productivity
  • Mood lighting for work, play, or meditation/deep relaxation
  • Home-customized lighting

2. What’s Wrong with That Furniture?

A comfortable bed with good linens is not going to cut it. A bench, a closet or luggage stand and a comfortable sitting area for two will help guests feel settled properly.

And believe it or not, guests can spot “economically” made furniture from a mile away. The question is, would they notice if your hotel casegoods furniture were value engineered as the most economical option? The quality would certainly still be there.


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But sometimes the problem isn’t only the furniture’s strength.

It Doesn’t Fit the Room Configuration & Style

Your goal must be to enhance guest experience and comfort. Furniture and other room-design components must be planned with consideration of the end user, which are not only hotel guests but also your maintenance and cleaning staff. How will everyone maneuver with and around your furniture?

The furniture could be a mismatch with the hotel’s aesthetic theme. Do the colors and patterns match or do they clash?

Its Dimensions Weren’t Considered

Have you ever seen a headboard or nightstand completely cover one of the electrical outlets you can use to charge your device? We have. It’s the very definition of poor planning.

And that stems from improper site surveying. A responsive casegoods furniture vendor can send a dedicated project manager (PM) to your site to avoid such mishaps.

3. An Electrical Shortage

No, we’re not talking about something dangerous like a short in a power cord or a lack of electricity pumping into the hotel. We mean not providing enough electrical outlets for your guests to use wherever they may be in the room.

The average hotel guest carries 2 or more electronic devices, typically a smartphone and tablet (or more if they’re traveling on business). They must have easy access to:

  • Charging
  • USB ports basically anywhere they could sit and do work
  • Other data options when applicable.

4. Blowing the Design out of Proportion

Are you a casino/resort on the Vegas Strip, a boutique hotel in New Hampshire, or a vacation paradise in Florida? Your hotel should fit its role in the hospitality world.

Guests don’t expect 5-star luxury from a midscale hotel. In fact, they’d probably be intimidated by it. Likewise, they also don’t expect 3-star accommodations when they’re paying for 5-star class. Delight them by fulfilling their needs and wants in the moment.

Avoid Impossible Furniture Designs

“Yes, that design looks interesting,” we’ve said. “But no, it’s impossible to make.” Get creative. Think outside the box. But give your designs a sense of reality and purpose. Think: Form meets function.

5. Misuse of Space

Guest rooms must be a home away from home. Your rooms should offer all the comforts and necessities guests would find in their bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms within 325 sq. ft. (the average hotel guest room size).  

You have the daunting task of including the accoutrements of everyday life in the smallest space possible without making it look cluttered and uninviting.

On the other side of the coin, it’s unattractive to have space sit conspicuously empty. Wasted space also costs more money over time to clean and maintain.  

Avoid These 5 Common Hospitality Design Mistakes

A hotel guest, as with any customer or client in any other industry, takes a path to satisfaction. They come in with expectations, take in the experience, and then make an evaluation.

Did they expect better lighting? More creative room design? Or maybe simply enough easily accessible electrical outlets to plug in the devices they can’t live without? If the experience was worse than what they expected, then you can expect a poor evaluation.

But if you orchestrate a delightful design (let’s hope all the other service elements of hospitality delight your guests, too), you may create guests for life. Hopefully, they’ll become brand ambassadors and do some free marketing for you on social media and review sites.

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