On our road trip across America, we spent a lot of time in hotels. Mostly, it was just to check in late at night, sleep, shower, change, eat breakfast and get back on the road. Occasionally, a pool visit was thrown in.
There were some definite organization trends among the hotels of various chains we visited. We generally stayed at mid-price hotels that were a step above the “bargain” level but lower than “luxury” offerings. Occasionally, we had a bargain stay or a luxury stay and it was interesting to see that the trends continued at all price levels, but varied in their execution. For example, a mid-price hotel usually offers a cook-it-yourself waffle machine, while a bargain hotel offers toaster pancakes.
Hotel trends are interesting because they sometimes foreshadow trends for the general home. After all, the hotel has made their selections to appeal to a broad variety of people while conveying a sense of luxury and pampering. Below are 8 trends we noticed among the hotels we visited.
1. Visual Room Numbers
Many hotels we stayed at used visual as well as numerical cues to designate their rooms. If you are on the road constantly, it is hard to remember what city you are in, not to mention your hotel room number. It is easier to remember that you are in the “cowboy hat” room or the “apple pie” room. Many hotels have added picture references next to each room number, usually showcasing tourist attractions in that city or tying in to the hotel’s décor but sometimes just an odd mix of “stuff.”
2. The Oatmeal “Sundae” Station
Two years ago, the “hot” item in hotel breakfasts was the cook-it-fresh waffle maker. This time, the new breakfast trend was a huge pot of oatmeal. Next to the oatmeal was a cute little caddy with varying toppings like raisins, craisins, walnuts and almonds. Each place added their own twist on the ingredients.
I liked this idea and often had the oatmeal instead of the waffles. The first time I tried them, I put a generous sprinkling of what I thought was wheat germ on my bowl. When I sat down to eat it, I was surprised to find how sweet the oatmeal was. I then discovered that my “wheat germ” was really some sort of crystallized sugar. Curiously, once my husband found out about the sugar topping, he started eating more oatmeal too.
3. Patterned Rugs
You would literally have to be blind not to notice all the wild patterned rugs. Often there was one rug pattern in the room and a totally different pattern down the hallway. In general, I like patterned rugs. They hide dirt incredibly well and they become instant artwork for the room. You don’t have to spend as much on your wall décor when all the interest goes to such a bold pattern.
Patterns and colors were bold and bright in most major cities. While I liked the artistic statement they made, I couldn’t help but think that the patterns would look dated very quickly. We wondered if the bold pattern trend would hold as we ventured to smaller cities in the center of the United States. Interestingly, these smaller cities did have patterned rugs but they tended to go for more subtle tone-on-tone patterns or more classical, repetitive patterns.
Some hotels are still learning how to use these bold rugs. There are some situations where the busy-ness of the pattern can be distracting and dangerous. Take these stairs for example. You really had to watch your step going down.
It is much easier to get your visual cues when walking down a staircase with plain carpet.
4. Curved Shower Curtain Rods
The curved shower curtain rod is not a new invention and has been around for a very long time. What was new this year, however, is that every hotel has them now. From the least expensive to the most expensive hotels, they all had the curved rods. Once you get used to the extra space you get from a curved shower rod and the luxurious appearance it provides, it is worth thinking about how you can put one in your own home.
Where you can start to separate inexpensive from more expensive hotels, however, is in the installation of the rods. Curved rods sit back about 4-5 inches from the holes where straight shower rods sit. Newer hotels install the curved rods from the beginning and drill the right holes. Cheaper hotels take out the existing straight shower rods, roughly patch the old holes and drill new ones for the curved rods. It significantly cheapens the upgrade.
A good compromise for remodeling shower rods from straight to curved is to find a rod with metal cap pieces that cover up the old holes, like this example.
|So, if you are attempting this yourself, take the extra time to either do a high-quality patching job on your drywall or find a shower rod with a bracket that covers the old holes. This double-rod from amazon.com might be an option.|
5. Double Soap Dishes
Another shower trend was the presence of double soap dishes, one placed at tub height and one at shower height. I assume this is to accommodate the needs of both types of bathers. For our family, it was a great way to store more stuff in the shower. While many people are opting for shower niches with built-in shelves to improve storage, the double-soap dish method also works for this purpose.
6. Plugs and Internet Connections
Two years ago, I don’t recall seeing many, if any, plugs and Internet connections in hotel rooms. This trip, plugs were everywhere, particularly in high-end hotels. They are a wonderful luxury! If you are reading your tablet/Kindle/iPhone in bed, you can just set it on the bedside table to charge. If you need to work late on your laptop, there is no wrestling to stretch the cord from the wall to your bed or to a desk. It is easy to find your phone in the morning and it is charged and ready to go.
At breakfast, there are plugs and Internet connections built into the breakfast table.
Once you get used to staying in hotels with these amenities, it seems like a real step backward to stay in one that doesn’t. I have yet to see any products oriented for the home that incorporate these design principles but I imagine it is only a matter of time before they are everywhere.
7. Washable Duvets
Hotels get a bad rap for the well-known fact that hotels tend to wash the sheets after each guest but the comforters and other bedding get washed less often. The Hampton Inn advertised heavily within the hotel that the entire bed gets washed between guests. Traditional bedspreads have been replaced with lightweight but warm duvets and sometimes the “duvets” look more like sheets. It is really a neat solution as you can alleviate any germ/bedbug concerns of guests, simplify the number of linens and possibly cut bedding costs as well.
8. Incorrectly Installed Shower Water Controls
Not every hotel organization trend was a positive one. In many hotels of all brands we stayed in, a sad organizing trend was that the shower water control plate was incorrectly installed so that the “C” for cold water was actually the hot water and the “H” for hot water was actually cold water. While, ideally, the hotels would actually replace the plates with the water temperature in the correct place, a quick fix would be to put either waterproof stickers over these plates or write on them with a Sharpie. I hope any hotel owner reading this checks their own shower controllers and makes the appropriate changes to avoid safety hazards and injuries. If you are traveling with children, just be aware of this and check the shower before your children use it.
Any other road warriors out there? What hotel trends have you noticed? Please share in the comments.
*I have no affiliation with Hampton Inn or any other hotel brand.