Upscale hotels are turning to a growing selection of damping materials, quieter air conditioners and better designs to deliver peace and quiet even when they’re located near airports or in busy urban neighborhoods.
Lack of sound insulation, poor design, and noisy air conditioners continue to detract from the boutique hotel experience, according to a casual review of today’s largest hotel review sites.
“Good service and location, but with loud noise,” reads a 3-star review left on TripAdvisor by a guest of a boutique hotel near SoHo in Manhattan on TripAdvisor. After raving about the hotel’s location, stylish design and great service, the guest wrote: “Our room was not perfect however with a loud noise (from the pipes?) going on and on the whole night…When I mentioned the noise when we were checking out they however told us we should have requested a new room. (I think though that they should make sure to put people in quiet rooms instead of the room with the noise if they could.)”
A noisy kitchen won’t help your guests feel spoiled, slamming doors and noisy footsteps won’t help them sleep, and a pool deck and bar buzzing with the sound of traffic could prompt guests to hit the beach instead.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways hotel designers can minimize noise levels within their hotels both during and after construction has been completed. So, what are they?
Installing Proper Insulation
Many hotels apply damping materials during construction to suppress noise transmission through walls, ceilings, and floors. The compounds can be used between adjoining rooms to decrease the vibrations caused by doors closing, wardrobes being open, and appliance fixtures being activated. For a great primer on how these compounds work, you can check out this post by the manufacturers of Green Glue Dampening Compound.
This compound, as well as underlayments offered by flooring companies, can also be used to suppress vertical sound transmission between floors. This will significantly decrease the vibrations caused by footsteps, and by weight placed on furniture.
Sometimes peace and quiet can even make up for frayed décor, according to this 4.5-star TripAdvisor review of a budget hotel in England: “Although the decor (and TV) in our room is starting to look a little tired, it was nonetheless comfortable. The silent closing of the fire doors in the corridor is a big plus which other hotels could learn from.”
Double insulated walls are vital in making sure sound doesn’t travel between rooms. Depending on where your customers have travelled from, it’s safe to assume that many of them will be experiencing jet lag. So dampening the sound of closing doors and wardrobes will help your guests get a good night’s sleep. When a noise problem is discovered after building is completed, hotels may be able to apply a drywall damping compound and other treatments designed specifically to reduce sound transmission through walls.
Several premier and boutique hotels are implementing ways to make their spaces noise-free. The upcoming TWA Hotel at JFA airport is one of them. Senior interiors associate Sara Duffy, who is currently working on the hotel, told HotelManagement.com about their decision to use luxury vinyl tile flooring in each room: “LVT itself is a sound-absorbing material because it's quite soft," she stated, "and then under that is an underlayment that we'll apply."
One of the main challenges when trying to create a quiet hotel, is knowing how to structure the building in the first place. Guests are bound to complain about loud noise if you situate their rooms right next to busy communal areas.
Positioning the rooms away from noisy hotel structures such as elevators, escalators, and ice machines, will significantly decrease the noise levels that reach each room. This may seem obvious, but apparently some boutique hotel developers just don’t get it, according to one 4-star TripAdvisor review titled “Loud clunking noise from atrium elevators audible in our 10th floor room during our entire 4-day stay.”
The reviewer wrote that, while they appreciated the view of the atrium, the clunking of its glass-walled elevators and echoing from the lobby bar below made for an unpleasant stay. “Unfortunately all the glass-enclosed elevators do not provide any sound-proofing,” the reviewer wrote. “As the elevators change floors and lock into place on selected floors, the machinery emits a clunking noise.”
It’s not just guest rooms that need good sound suppression, it’s any common area where many people will be visiting at once. Which also includes swimming pool areas. Everyone loves a good outdoor pool, but making sure your pool is nowhere near any roads, car parks, or loading areas will give your guests the peace they desire.
In terms of indoor pools, it’s not much different. Hard tiles, yelling children, and constant splashing means that swimming is often a very loud activity. For suppressing these types of noises, most architects turn to textured sprays that can be applied to the ceiling and/or barriers of pool area, which acts as a sound absorber. This will make sure that any and all noise isn’t reflected off the reflective surfaces, avoiding painful echoes throughout the pool area.
Quiet Air Conditioning
Search for “noisy air conditioner” on any of the major travel sites and you’ll find lots of complaints and low ratings. In July 2017, for instance, a guest gave a hotel in England just 2-stars because he could not turn off the fan on the air conditioner in his room. “What about their good night sleep policy?” he asked. “[I] paid in excess of £200 for two nights of poor sleep quality and only got one mediocre breakfast.”
Guests at upscale hotels should not have to choose between keeping cool and having a quiet hotel room, especially given the availability of new packaged terminals air conditions, or PTACs.
General Electric reports that its Zoneline PTACs have been installed in many hotels, leading to a much quieter night’s sleep for many guests.
“The number one priority for hotel owners when it comes to PTACs is having a reliable, dependable unit,” Liz VerSchure, product general manager for consumer comfort at General Electric, told Proud Green Building. “If the unit isn’t working, the room cannot be sold, which means a loss of revenue for hotel/motel owners.”
There is however no point in having the latest AC tech if you don’t maintain and clean the devices regularly. Holiday Inn Express hotels in particular have a strict method for taking care of their PTACs, making sure every unit has very regular maintenance checks.
Your guests want to be able to hear themselves think, so eliminating the stressful sounds they hear at home will keep them coming back for more.