No matter how chic and elegant a hotel guestroom is, the entire vibe can come undone if the bathroom looks rundown and worn-out. But with the right flooring and furniture, the bathroom can help maintain a hotel’s theme and express a designer’s vision.
“Aesthetics of the bathroom, and guestrooms as a whole, are based first on brand identity,” said Douglas Fu, studio director and project manager at Puccini Group. “Once we have a familiarity of the brand, then the materials take their place.” Budget also plays a factor: For instance, he said, luxury hotel brands prefer to use natural stone in bathrooms, but midscale properties may not be able to afford that kind of product. “It generally comes down to brand identity and budget.”
For the floors and walls of a hotel bathroom, stone and tile can “be like a chameleon,” said Matt Karlin, president of Nemo Tile + Stone. “You can use any stone or any tile or any porcelain depending on what the aesthetic of the hotel is.”
In general, he said, upscale and luxury hotels opt for real stone, but midscale and economy hotels wanting a similar aesthetic can opt for porcelain that looks like stone. “It’s less expensive, easier to buy and easier to maintain,” Karlin said.
Not all materials are proper for bathroom uses, however, and hoteliers and designers should be aware of how heat and humidity will affect their selection. Porous materials, for example, might present some long-term risks in a bathroom setting. Still, Karlin said, some designs require porous stone or tile, and proper maintenance can keep the product looking the way it should for years to come.
“Lighting is often overlooked, but this is key to achieve the right look and feel of the guestroom and the guest bathroom. If the color temperature is too ‘cold’ (over 3000K), then the room will look more like a hospital room than a hospitality room.” —Douglas Fu, studio director and project manager at Puccini Group
While some hotels have given up tubs for sleek showers, boutique hotels are still adding deep soaking tubs, said Mark Wolinsky, president of Wetstyle. For the properties that do have standalone showers, however, zero-threshold shower pans are popular for a seamless look.
When it comes to sinks, since hotels don’t need as much storage space as residential bathrooms, floating sinks can create an attractive and eye-catching effect, Wolinsky said. “We’re doing a hotel in Banff that...has a wall-mounted sink floating in three walls, underneath a wall-mounted storage piece.”
And while there are many materials available for bathroom furniture, Fu said that porcelain still dominates sinks and tubs—“for the ease of cleaning, which hotel operations often appreciate, and for the cost efficiencies, which the owners often appreciate.” Porcelain and stone polymer vanities that integrate the bowl and countertops are becoming more popular, he added, as the minimalist aesthetic gains traction.
When it comes to choosing colors for the bathroom furniture, white is still the most popular—but white doesn’t have to be boring. “There are a whole spectrum of whites,” Wolinsky said, noting that his company can create sinks, tubs and other furniture in a high-gloss white, a matte white, or even a bluish-white. Some hotels, he added, are even seeking furniture in charcoal-grey or black. “It’s not something people are looking for in huge masses, but there are designers who want a statement piece,” he said. These pieces typically go to design-focused and boutique hotels rather than traditional full-service, he said, but some designer floors at luxury hotels are also opting for darker hues.