A Guide to Hotel Design Pt 7: Silence is Golden

    To be woken in a five star hotel at an ungodly hour in the morning is unacceptable. When an hotel hasn’t the wit to organise its bottle recycling collection at a time after breakfast one wonders whether the management has any idea of how quiet their bedrooms might be. Indeed why does the building design dictate the bottle bank is below a bedroom window anyway?

    To have a wonderful bed in a room with good blackout does not guarantee a good night’s sleep for the guest. The third major rule for any hotel is that bedrooms should be quiet.

    Some hotels recognise this and at least one English group, Premier Inn, has a sleep guarantee, and refunds the room cost if the guests sleep is disturbed by noise from outside the room. Some hotels however disturb the guests sleep by noise within the room. Silence is indeed golden if noise means the guest demands a refund, a legitimate complaint given that guests check into the hotel expecting to be able to sleep.

    Yet silence need not be difficult to achieve, and achieving it can be aided by design. Kurt Ritter of Rezidor believes that airport locations are the most profitable locations for an hotel. Yet you can stand in a bedroom in his beautifully designed Park Inn Liége and watch an old fashioned jet, a Douglas DC8-63freighter of 1960’s vintage, take off at decibel levels missing from modern aircraft and not hear a thing. Similarly the Marriott’s Renaissance at Heathrow in London proudly advertises plane spotting weekends with bedrooms overlooking the main runway, but guest can hardly hear an aircraft. This almost magical trick is achievable through careful design of the building structure and the use of triple glazing with the correct acoustic performance.

    Why then does any guest need to hear the hotel bottle bank being emptied at 0615 hrs in the morning? Or hear the hotels air conditioning fans on the roof? Or hear (and smell) the kitchen extract fans?

    Bedroom design should be the first criteria for architect, services engineer and planner. Building design should not leave problems to be resolved by the interior designer and the operator. All to often it does.