by Larry Mundy
Fuscia Floors and Lime-Green Tubs; Not Everyone
Wants a “Home-like” Atmosphere in a Hotel
|I’ve said it before, but I’m running out of ideas for columns, so I’ll
say it again: not everyone wants a “home-like” atmosphere in a hotel, because
their homes leak and have termites and need paint and have the same furniture
the guest bought in 1983 at the garage sale that followed the neighbor’s
messy divorce. One of the joys of traveling is simply getting away
from home, and the nagging little thoughts like “have I changed the furnace
filter since I moved here?” and “aren’t Grandma’s potholders from the 1936
World’s Fair getting a little, um, ratty-looking?” Traveling to a
fancy hotel gives guests a break from their everyday world of gingham curtains
and photos of the kids in soccer uniforms.
And that’s why I think the designers of today’s boutique hotels are on to something. Trendy hotels look nothing like a guest’s home, and the guest enjoys the change of scenery. I recently toured a spanking new boutique hotel, one of those named with a single letter rather than an actual name, to give the guest the impression it was so intimate it only needed to be called by an initial. Let’s call it “Hotel X,” because I’m not aware of a hotel actually called “X”, although there are some by-the-hour motels in my hometown called “XXX” on police reports.
And believe me, Hotel X was nothing like my home. At my house, you enter a sort of dull tan foyer with a potted plant and a little scratched-up table that collects everyone’s car keys and cell phones on the way in and out. At Hotel X, you enter a room with a two-story waterfall, and lilac-scented water sheets down a series of angular chrome panels into a lime-green iron cauldron. A graphic of moving clouds is projected onto an azure ceiling, and the floor is rough-hewn cedar. Immediately the guest knows he’s arrived somewhere unique. It may be unique in a way that would become irritating if contemplated for more than five minutes, but at least it’s clearly not home.
At home, the natural flow is into the foam-green family room, where two well-stained Barcaloungers flank a 27-inch Philco permanently tuned to the Golf Channel. The out-of-balance ceiling fan shakes the light fixture, so shadows move erratically. A stuffed deer head from a 1991 hunting trip is missing a couple antlers because I’ve used it as a clothes-drying rack, and my ancient Labrador retriever is curled up on an oval braided rug that now has the permanent smell of the humane society euthanasia room.
At X, one moves to the lobby, which is surprisingly small and sort of a brownish-red. Leather seating panels in the same brownish-red are suspended from black powdercoated framing, around a circular central “service desk.” The service-desk person has a moustache as long as his ponytail and is dressed in brownish-red spandex. What appears to be an aquarium in the wall, is really a plasma screen swimming with images of brownish-red angelfish. The lobby walls are dotted with abstract art in every imaginable shade of brownish-red. A brownish-red elephant could be led into this room, and no one would know unless they were crushed to death in the process. Atonal, unstructured jazz wafts from hidden speakers, and indirect lighting glows eerily from behind ceiling baffles that look like pewter-plated seashells. This room, like a toilet in a sports stadium, was custom-designed to make you want to do your business, and leave as soon as possible. But it was a whole lot trendier.
It works, and I am soon in my guestroom. I cannot really describe my bedroom at home, to anyone who has not seen the aftermath of a category 5 tornado. In contrast, the room at Hotel X is simple and spartan, and infinitely more functional. In a space hardly larger than my own bedroom, X packs a bed, a desk, an electric juice squeezer, refrigerated wine storage and nineteen coordinated “throw pillows,” arranged as if they had indeed been thrown, from the corridor. Every wall is painted the color of a different citrus fruit, except the ceiling, which is a gloss black. The expresso maker awaits my bidding.
In my home kitchen, there is a fridge full of Diet Coke and a pantry full of Velveeta Shells and Cheese. The restaurant at Hotel X featured a Tuesday night special of leeks with dill marmalade, pan-seared llama chops, and thinly sliced kumquats in a wasabi glaze. They made up for the small portions by having realistic pictures of actual food hand-painted on the plates.
By the time I left, I had convinced myself that fuscia-stained concrete floors and carpet embossed with the likeness of Winston Churchill were indicia of how the beautiful people lived. Returning home, I had the same sensation that rich executives convicted of “creative accounting” must have upon first glimpsing their jail cell. I was ready for another trip to the land of lime-green Jacuzzi tubs and carved zebra-wood magazine racks. I do, however, think that the furnishings in these hotels should bear the familiar legend: “Don’t try this at home.”
Larry Mundy works for a hotel company in Dallas. His views are his own, and may differ considerably from those of a sane person."
|Also See:||Your Hotel Laundry Room / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / September 2006|
|Your Hotel Parking Lot / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006|
|Room Service / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006|
|Redecorate Your Elevator Cabs, Every Fall / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006|
|The Basic Hotel Shower-Tub Combination, a Relic? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006|
|Different Views of Customer Service - The Airline “Passenger Experience” vs the Hotel Guest Experience/ Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006|
|The Hotel Guest With Half a Brain / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006|
|The Latest Thing - Fractional Ownership Of Things or FOOT Financing for Hotels / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006|
|Hotel Floor Surfaces - Hard or Soft? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006|
|Hotel Bathroom Origami - That Tiny Detail of Carefully Triangulated Toilet Paper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006|
|A Chain, a System, a Franchise, a Collection, a Group, a Brand... / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006|
|The Forensic Hotel Housekeeper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006|
|The Exercise Room in Your Hotel - Sweating the Details / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006|
|Remembering the old-time Hotel Engineering Department / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006|
|Curse of the Hotel Lobby-Dwellers / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006|
|What Do You Do With an Old Hotel? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006|
|Hotel Smokers: A Dying Breed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006|
|The New Food & Beverage – Food “Just Like Home” / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006|
|Guest Privacy – It’s Not Just a Door Tag Anymore / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006|
|The Future of Hotel Reservations / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006|
|Soon Every Town in America Will Have an Unused Convention Center / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006|
|Hotel Pool Safety 101 / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006|
|Where Not To Build a Hotel / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006|
|“Exterior Corridors” – Disappearing, Because They Never Existed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy|
|My Top Ten Worst Hotel Inventions / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006|
|Bed Tech / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006|
|A Sense of Arrival / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006|