Beauty and Balance: Interior Design Essentials for Hotels, Motels and Inns

If you are starting out running your own hotel, you may have a picture in your mind of the sort of appearance you want. But if you are going for a look just because it pleases you, you may need to think again. The look that pleases your clients may be rather different, and it is their opinion that counts.

Remember Your Target

Every business venture has to start by knowing who its customers will be. You have chosen your site with a particular group in mind, and you have some idea how to attract them. What they see when they walk into the lobby and into the bedroom will determine whether they come back.

The reaction you are looking for depends on why these customers are at your hotel. A place that wants to attract family vacations will be very different from one that targets business travelers, just as a budget stopover will not pretend to be a luxury retreat.

Color and Light

There is plenty of research on the effect of color on moods. Some designers avoid greens and yellows, as they can be associated with sickness. Some favor purple for a calming effect. White often speaks of luxury—it means the owners can afford to clean more often, and don’t expect clients who might make anything dirty!

Lighting is important. In the reception you don’t want arrivers to struggle to find the desk, so lighting needs to be bright without being harsh. In the lounge and bar the lighting will be more subdued, to give a relaxing feel which will encourage people to hang around for a while. The restaurant needs its own balance of intimacy and clarity.

Bedrooms need plenty of lighting control, so that clients can adjust it as they want. A budget room should be well lit to emphasize cleanliness; a business room will use the lighting to show up the separate zones for work and relaxation.


The first piece of furniture visitors will see is your reception desk. It needs to be carefully designed and positioned to be identifiable but not overpowering. The design of the desk will also affect the way your reception staff behave.

Furniture in the reception area needs to be functional. Firm chairs and stainless steel table legs say that this is a place to do what needs to be done and then move on (preferably to the bar which can be visible with its inviting deep chairs.)

Bedrooms should be furnished to give the maximum impression of space. The first thing people look at is the bed so it must be obviously clean, and positioned well away from the door for a sense of security. A good headboard attracts the eye and creates an impression of attention to detail.

More Than Meets the Eye

There is a great deal that goes into the design of hotel accommodation. Every detail needs to be thought through. Unless you have a background in design yourself you would be well advised to consult a professional designer to get your hotel right from the start.

Tia Wilson is an interior designer who works with commercial clients, mostly in the travel and leisure sector. Keen to help small businesses succeed she shares her knowledge.

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