5 Ways To Make Hotel Bathrooms Less Awful

In order to woo and keep customers, hotels are overhauling the design of the washroom.

5 Ways To Make Hotel Bathrooms Less Awful

For years now hotel chains have improved paltry bathroom amenities by partnering with beauty brands. Companies like Aveda and Paul Mitchell, for instance, have siphoned their shampoos and conditioners into tiny containers to give customers a dose of name-brand caché in the bathroom.


According to research collected by reputation management company TrustYou, and then further analyzed in The New York Times, those frills aren’t enough to reduce visitors’ complaints about bathrooms. Through the likes of TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Twitter, hotel guests are voicing their gripes–and some are pretty specific. Here’s how hotels are responding.

Image: Shower via Shutterstock

Hollywood Lighting

According to TrustYou’s survey, the most common grievance with bathroom lighting is that there’s not enough of it. It stands to reason that a hotel guest has an event or somewhere important to be, and will therefore need a well-lit spot for shaving or apply makeup. Unfortunately, many boutique hotels seem to favor dimmed, sexier lighting.

Wyndham Worldwide wants to introduce Hollywood mirrors (the kind framed by bulbs and used by starlets) that shine light on the guest’s face from several angles. Westin and Sheraton are switching from the yellow glow of compact fluorescent bulbs to LED lights, which provide full spectrum, brighter light.

Pale colors

The Westin is also intentionally installing lighter-colored countertops in their bathrooms, to maximize the output of the aforementioned bulbs. It’s a simple trompe l’oiel: in bathrooms that can’t install more expansive fixtures, light will bounce off the surrounding surfaces and give the guest more of the Hollywood treatment.

More wattage for your blowout

Marriott now plans to stock bathrooms with plusher towels and new hair care products. While that’s not revolutionary, they are also responding to an internal study of more than 6,000 guests that found 7 out of 10 used hair dryers, and of that group, everyone wanted more wattage. Expect the dinky white dryers affixed to the wall to be replaced by more powerful models.

No more bathtubs

Taking a bath might be an act of luxury, but hotel owners in the U.S. are finding that the tub eats up space and is underutilized. Getting rid of tubs would require the largest infrastructure overhaul of any of the bathroom renovations mentioned (no easy feat: the article points out that plumbing and tiling make the bathroom the most expensive space to renovate). But as George Scammell, VP of global design for Wyndham, tells the Times: “Guests just aren’t taking bubble baths today.”


Hotel companies like Wyndham plan to use overhead rainfall showerheads and hand-held showerheads to create a more indulgent shower experience.

Larger showers also allow for shower benches, which hotels use to cater to older and larger guests (both of which are growing demographics). They’ll also weave in smaller design details, like shower curtains with “peek-a-boo” netting that allow for more airiness than traditional shower curtains.

Sliding doors

Westin and Marriott are two hotel brands that will nix the traditional swinging door in favor of bathroom sliding doors. In crowded urban markets especially, streamlining access in and out of rooms gives travelers–who are likely toting luggage around as well–a sense of airiness and space.

Read the full article here.

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.