3 ways to make small guestrooms look bigger

Studio3877 designed the guestrooms at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

A room’s size should never affect the guest’s overall experience, according to Michael Suomi, principal and interior director of design at Stonehill & Taylor. In fact, a properly designed guestroom should feel downright spacious, even if it really isn’t. Here are some tips from Suomi and other designers on how guestrooms with a small footprint can feel comfortable.

1. Don't Forget the Bathroom

Suomi—who spent three years working with Hyatt Hotels Corporation to reinvent the company’s Hyatt Regency guestrooms and cut 50 square feet from the previous brand standard—suggests focusing on making the bathroom seem larger. “We put the toilet in an opaque glass compartment and the shower in another compartment, but the vanity is 5 feet wide and open to the guestroom,” he said. “The grooming area can be closed off with a sliding panel or left open to make the room bigger.”

David Shove-Brown, a partner at Studio3877, agreed that bathrooms present great opportunities for designers to do “some really cool things.” For example, he suggested, designers can select unique and eye-catching faucets in a distinctive material, or pick out interesting wall and floor tiles and arrange them in distinctive patterns. Backlit mirrors are always striking, and baseboard lights can replace nightlights. “Hang a cool pendant fixture where they wouldn’t expect it,” he said. 


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The bathrooms at the Phoenix Park Hotel, designed by Studio3877, use backlit mirrors and minimal shelf space.

2. Take Advantage of Technology

Jessica Lotner, a senior interior designer at The McBride Company, expects technology to help, such as artwork projected onto walls. “The setting can change depending on the guest’s mood,” she said. “It could be images of waves, or crazy artwork—something modern.”  

Suomi also agreed that technology could help maximize the guest experience in a small room, especially in terms of intuitive controls both at the room entrance and the bedside. 

Improvements in wireless technology can make it easier for hoteliers to upgrade rooms without knocking walls down. “There have been advances in wireless communication technology between the light switches and the fixtures,” he said. “Those are some important areas where recent changes in technology have improved the guest experience.”

3. Light Makes a Difference

Lighting also impacts the look of a guestroom. “A maid could come in and set the lights for the morning, and then come back in the evening and change it to another setting with just the push of a button,” Lotner said. 

Similarly, the drapery could be preset for different times of day and changed automatically with switches. “It’s neat and feels like someone came in and really personalized everything for you,” she said, noting that automating lights and drapery can improve a hotel’s return on investment in terms of a housekeeper’s time management. 

Take a look at how hotels are improving their ROI by making guestrooms smaller.