Open-room plans featuring see-through bathrooms are not for everyone, but that has not kept leading luxury and boutique hotels from using them to create striking designs that offer an edgy version of what many guests have grown accustomed to at home.
Some things are better left unseen — or are they? That’s being debated robustly as more boutique hotels embrace open-room designs that remove barriers between bathrooms and the rest of the guest room in a bid to create an edgier look, the illusion of more space, and the luxury many affluent guests experience at home.
This illusion is often achieved by encasing the bathroom behind see-through glass walls or treating an artisanal tub like a sculpture by placing it in the middle of a guest room.
The trend marks a big departure from the more incremental approach of simply moving sinks from the bathroom to the living quarters. The latter has the obvious benefit of allowing one guest to use the sink if their roommate is using the bathroom.
We suspect this daring design concept can be successful in some venues and troublesome in others. Each hotel owner will have to determine whether it’s a good fit for their target market.
Let’s talk first about the benefits, which many would argue are less apparent.
First, open bathroom plans can make hotel guest rooms appear larger.
Secondly, they allow natural light into an otherwise dark and claustrophobic bathroom. In this way, they help hotels catch up with the luxury many affluent guests experience at home, where master bathrooms have steadily grown in size and often basked in natural light from large windows.
After all, the illusion of greater size created by open-plan designs works whether you are seated on the commode or the bed. In other words, it makes both the entire room look larger, while also making the bathroom appear larger to whoever is using it.
We see open-plan hotel rooms as potentially being a good fit for hotels at adult-only resorts. Think all-inclusive couple’s resorts and health spas. Solo travelers, including many business travelers, might also warm to this design, as it can create a very modern, uncluttered, and luxurious experience reminiscent of home.
They seem particularly well suited to contemporary luxury hotels using a sleek, minimalist design aesthetic. All these pluses help explain why urban luxury boutique hotels such as the Miss Clara Hotel in Stockholm, the Mandarin Hotel in Miami and the Renaissance Hotel in Beijing appear to be pioneering the trend. You can see an image of these and other hotels' see-through bathrooms here.
While they may be a great way for couples to enjoy an even more romantic outing, however, open bathroom plans are not appropriate in many settings.
Just because two people are madly in love does not mean they want to see – or be seen by – each other while using the bathroom.
For this and other reasons, open or deconstructed bathrooms plans are problematic for hotels that cater to families, large groups, and businesses that may expect colleagues to share a room.
“Sharing a hotel room with your father, your teenaged kids, your friend, or even a colleague means that bathing exhibitionism becomes less sexy and more unbearably awkward verging on untenable,” notes Quartzy in an article titled “Why Do Hip Hotels Think Their Guests No Longer Want Bathroom Privacy?” So why on earth do hotels think we want this?
Keeping all that glass spotless could also pose challenges for housekeeping.
To determine whether the trend has legs and avoid alienating guests, some hotel owners and designers might be wise to consider phasing in open-bathrooms over time.
Or you could equip each open-plan room with a portable privacy screen that guest could position either in or outside the bathroom to provide an optional level of privacy.
Material selection is critical when designing an open bathroom. Since nothing is out of sight, the bathroom and the bedroom must adhere to a single aesthetic. Again, a sophisticated, clean, minimalist style often works best.
Make sure the rooms are chic and up to luxury hotel standards — especially when incorporating plumbing fixtures.
While using different flooring, wall coverings, and other finishes to set off the bathroom may be appropriate, these selections must complement the décor used in the rest of the room.
Matching custom-made bathroom cabinets and room furniture can be a great way to achieve a cohesive look in such instances. Placing a chair in the bathroom can a great way to tie together to two rooms and provide the look and feel of today’s modern master bathrooms.
The Beachwood Custom team has been helping premier hotels worldwide design, source and install custom made furniture since 1992. Why not contact the Beachwood team today to see how we can help execute your design ideas.