Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
I am a sucker for good hotel design. It thrills me when I roll my luggage into a room and find something totally unexpected. For example, at La Purificadora in Puebla, Mexico, I loved that the bed and the desk were a single unit of furniture, and that the floors were made of black and white tiles that sounded slightly like an xylophone when you walked on them. At Arcotel Velvet, in Berlin, pictured here, I adored the full wall of windows (although more about that in a moment), and the color scheme of burgundy, chocolate brown and white.
But there were things that I didn't like as much about my rooms in both of these places, and since these are problems I've observed in other design conscious hotels around the world, I'm going to use these as examples of what goes wrong when form takes precedence over function.
1- The Impossible Sink
At the Arcotel Velvet, as is quite common, there was a separate room for shower and commode, and a sink just outside. You could pull a curtain to separate the sink from the rest of the room, which was good. (Flossing = not sexy.) But the sink itself was a design nightmare. It was beautiful to look at, very long and narrow. The sink was so long, that when I stood facing the mirror, I couldn't reach the faucets -- and I hasten to assure you that I am not especially stubby-armed. Okaaaay, I flipped around to stand longways at the sink, glancing sideways at the mirror. But the large mirror turned out to be a cabinet that contained things like the soap, and when I tried to open it, it nearly clocked me in the head.
2 - Fishbowl vs. Claustrophobia
When the sun went down, my affection for the great big wall of windows also faded. Now, I love natural light in a room, and I want to see outside as much as possible -- why travel if you're just gong to pull the shades? But when I left the hotel for dinner the first night, I realized that those lovely windows made for pretty fascinating viewing, even for someone who isn't a peeping Tom. There are blackout curtains that you can pull, but then the room feels oppressively small. It's a design problem that could use a design solution, and I bet the Arcotel Velvet would be equal to the task.
3- The Unholy Peepshow
At the otherwise gorgeous La Purificadora, the problem was an open-concept bathroom, one of the most bewildering trends in hotel design that I continually encounter. (Memo to designers: please stop it.)
The room is a long rectangle, and the only structure between the bathroom and the rest of the room was a free-standing closet, made of clear glass. In other words, there's nothing to obstruct the view. The sink is against one wall, perpendicular to two stalls which account for the commode and the shower. Both stalls are frosted glass, which is a small mercy, but the glass does not reach all the way to the ceiling, meaning that there is nothing containing steam, sounds and smells.
Now that's a set-up that makes watching someone floss seem sexy -- and, come to think of it, you could do that here too.