From the design of an eight-story, 400-key, five-star hotel on the bank of the Potomac River, to the luxury renovation of a boutique hotel in Georgetown, Washington DC-based architecture and interior design firm, BBGM has no lack of exciting projects both under its belt and in the pipeline. Here, Alfred H. Gooden III, director at BBGM, gives his observations on current trends in guest room design ...

What for you is the most critical element of an effective guest room design?

The hotel industry always is looking for new services and amenities to attract guests, but it is the room itself that serves as the primary source of revenue and ultimate attraction for first time guest and the dominate reason for repeat guest.

Hoteliers are focusing in on what makes their guestroom stand out from the hotel across the street, and looking to respond to the desires and needs of their guests.

Though there are similarities, the challenge is different if the guest is a business traveler or a recreational traveler. The old adage; “It should feel like a home away from home” really is not what either traveler wants, after all they are traveling AWAY from home!

For me, it really is about having the things I always wanted at home, I want to be personally be pampered. So it is critical to bring in those personal touches.  The room has to be intuitive and easy to personalize and most importantly RELAX.

What would you say are the top three trends influencing guest rooms?

The number one request is integrated technology. WiFi internet connection is a must and it must be free! Hotels are providing large monitors and wireless keyboards for the traveler to connect their laptops.

Guests are also looking to have individual control of the room environment. Touch pad devices that enable guests to control temperature, light levels and sound systems are becoming an attractive feature to make the personal experience exactly that, personal.

The actual sleeping area of the room is getting smaller and less cluttered to make room for the bathroom getting bigger.  This is the real room of personal pampering. The floors are heated; showers are larger, open and either have a rain head, pulsating wall head and a wand, or all three.

When there is a tub it is a soaking tub. European norms are becoming American standards. The bathroom is more of a personal spa. The integrated toilet or bidet toilet seats are a common feature in suites especially in attracting international guest.

There are simple steps being made to respond to green initiatives in services (sheet changes towel use, reclaiming soaps, etc) but also in the decor and finishes used in the rooms.

Hotels are marketing the recycled content and the sustainability of the finishes in the rooms and throughout the hotel.  For Gen X-ers to millennials, sustainable living is a way of life, and expected to be part of their travel experience.

How do you ensure your project stands out in such a fast-paced and heavily populated sector?

As for the decor, a look for ‘authenticity’ is being sought after. The traveler is looking for the hotel to be a representation of the city it is located in, and not merely a replication of the same style from a national brand regardless of where it is in the world.

This has translated to the term boutique. It used to refer to the size of the hotel and the number of rooms. Today it refers to uniqueness and individuality of the hotel.

Having a personalised style that reflects the culture of the location and maintains a quality level of the brand is the goal. That theme is carried from the public amenity spaces to the corridors and through the guestrooms.  The guestrooms can be personalised with varying colour schemes with the same fabrics, furnishings and accessories.

The trend is not to be trendy, not to follow the crowd, but personalise and have your guestrooms be a signature of your brand and the community your hotel is in.

What would you say is the most memorable/unusual guest room you’ve worked on and why?

The renovation of the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC is unique because of the history, and the unique shape of the building requires that no two rooms are the same.

Have you got any new projects on the horizon you’re able to share with us?

Cannot talk about it by name, but this will be a unique boutique hotel that has a working art studio incorporated in the public spaces.