Hotel Design School

After five months, I now have come to realize that all hotel architects have attended the same school of hotel design.  This school is cloaked in a veil of secrecy that would be the envy of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.  But, after staying in some seventy hotels in recent months, and doing some behind-the-scenes digging, I am now able to report on the courses offered by this mysterious school, which insiders refer to as the Hotel California Training School :-) .

Light Switch Chaos 101:  While most people grow accustomed to the logical placement of light switches in their homes, hotels have a chance to broaden a guest’s experience through clever light switch placement.  Learn the latest in light switch obfuscation, including how to hide switches behind curtains and doors, clustering way too many switches in one long bank of switches, putting switches in rooms far from the light they control, and ensuring that a guest can never find a light in the middle of the night.

Advanced Light Switch Chaos 201:  Added chaos can be injected into the life of hotel guests by using the “master switch over-ride” technique.  Hide in the room a single switch that cuts off all the room’s power.  Make sure the people who clean the room turn off all power whenever the guests are gone and have electronic devices plugged in that desperately need recharging.  And put the switch in a spot where young children can find it, cut off all power to the room at night, and let the parents crawl around in total darkness looking for a way to turn the power back on. 

Sadistic Shower Design 104:  You’ll find many guests expecting to be able to readily turn on the water for a shower, adjust the temperature, and take a comfortable shower.  Why settle for this!  This course will educate hotel architects on creative ways to design bathroom showers to inflict pain on hotel guests.  Learn how to place faucets where guests will inadvertently bump them while their eyes are covered in shampoo, resulting in a surge of boiling or ice-cold water.  Put faucets in locations so they can only be accessed by standing directly under the shower head as the water is turned on!  Connect the shower’s flow of water to the toilet system, so that a showering guest gets an unexpected change in water temperature whenever a family member flushes – guaranteed to promote family harmony!!

Slippery Surfaces 201:  There are many opportunities, often unexploited, to expose hotel guests to treacherous surfaces during their stay.  Learn how to make the surface near a bathtub or shower as slippery as black ice.  Learn how to position throw rugs on slick floors so that an unsuspecting guest has their feet slip out from under them when they least expect it.  And learn how to extend such surfaces to hotel common areas, treacher-izing pools and jacuzzis.

Advanced Rat’s Nest Techniques 35285294:  Many hotels make the mistake of assuming that their guests want to be able to find their rooms readily, and to comfortably make their way to the lobby, restaurants, and other amenities.  But the truly inspired hotel architect will realize that the ultimate guest experience comes by making guests wander all over the hotel, futilely hunting for their destination.  Learn how to design hotel lay-outs with no underlying logic.  Learn how to make hall signs as confusing as possible.  Learn how to use hotel room numbering systems that baffle instead of clarify.  Learn how to maximize the distance from the lobby to rooms.   And master the subtleties of throwing in some doors that you can leave from, but lock behind you!

Voice Mail Torture 911:  As guests get more and more literate on computer technology, it gets harder to waste their time with indecipherable voice mail systems.  Learn the latest in how to make it impossible for guests to access voice mails.  Learn how to start their stay off on the wrong note with a “welcome voice mail” that they spend tens of minutes to retrieve, and then tells them nothing.  Learn how to bury urgent or important voice mail messages in a maze of confusion so guests miss them entirely!

Fireplace Deception 000:  It’s easy to design a fireplace that is simple and works reliably.  Learn the most advanced techniques in building fireplaces – fireplaces that lure the guest in to lighting a fire then spew smoke into the room with no clear remedy.   Fireplace flues need to appear to be open, but then be completely baffling to a family trying to combat the outpouring of smoke.

False Negative Fire Alarms 111000111:  In our increasingly regulated environment, hotel designers need to master the intricacies of fire alarm design.  Naturally, it’s important to have in place alarms that detect the presence of smoke or fire, sound off loudly, and help guests safely evacuate the premises.  But why stop there?  How about fire alarms that go off randomly in the middle of the night?  How about a sensor to determine when guests are particularly exhausted, and pick that night to go off every 45 minutes?  How about sprinkling other alarms around hotel rooms that have nothing to do with dangers, but go off in the middle of the night for no clear or explainable reason.

Alarm Clock Harassment Techniques 445:  The seemingly-innocuous alarm clock can be a valuable weapon in ensuring a miserable stay for your hotel’s guests.  Learn why a room should never have a simple, reliable alarm clock.  Train hotel staff to set room alarms for 4:45 a.m.  Make it next to impossible for guests to change the alarm’s setting.  Better yet, have the clock set to the wrong time entirely, and crank the confusion level up a notch.  Complement vexing alarm clock design with a wake-up call system that rarely works when needed, and makes errant early morning wake-up calls on days when guests desperately need extra sleep.

Noise Management 101:  Hotels can ensure that noise from a range of sources impacts its guests.  Learn how to design a hotel so that every room in near noisy vehicles or elevators.   Learn how to make sure that construction takes place at the worst possible time.  Figure out how walls between rooms can be paper thin when the adjacent room is booked by a screaming mimi.  And design hotel acousticsso that music from groups or DJ systems will penetrate every crevice of a room anytime that sane people are asleep.  All this and more!

Unleashing the Lock-Ness Monster 101:  Every hotel room has locks.  This course teaches hotel designers all the tricks of the trade in lock design.  Course attendees will master the art of magnetic locks that stop working when the guest is in most urgent need of getting into his/her room.   Only the finest lock designs can detect when the guest is checking in late at night, when the guest has far too much to carry, or when the guest has an urgent need to use the bathroom, or when the guest has an important phone call ringing inside the room — and pick that exact time for the magnetic strip to fail! 

Advanced Lock-Ness Techniques 201:  Many families book two adjacent rooms, and there are powerful techniques that can be applied to the locks of doors between adjoining rooms.  Learn how to make it exceptionally difficult to unlock these doors, especially when the guest checks in late at night with very sleepy children.   Gain expertise in getting these doors to lock whenever parents urgently need to get to a crying baby alone in the next room.  And figure out how to make these doors spring wide open when parents want a bit of privacy from younger kids in the next room!  All this and more in this important advanced course!!


If you have other course suggestions, add your comments to this blog!!

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