Exec Suite bedroom

Learn how to design striking spaces for your hotel that consistently match your brand and service offering. Samantha Crockett from Harris Jackson Design shares her expert advice on the design process from initial idea conception to final tweaks.

The hotel design sector is a fast moving, multimillion pound industry where it is no longer the bastion of those who just like to create beautiful spaces.

Those taking on the moniker of hotel designer must be financially shrewd, knowing how to bring in more revenue for the hotelier/operator whilst saving them money when refurbishing or designing from the outset. They must be familiar with the latest technological trends making operations more efficient and successful while also, of course, remaining innovative with hotel concepts and design so they reach new heights continuously.

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The most important part of the whole process is deciding on a concept. This will be the making of an independent hotel and what will attract guests back for years to come. The designer works with the hotelier to match the brand standard, whether it be the first hotel in a group or one of several. Independent hotels need to have a clear identity, individuality and improved quality to their competitors in order to stay competitive.


Once the concept has been agreed on the designer can move forward and produce initial schemes and boards showcasing a selection of architectural finishes and fabrics. Some will choose to use interior design software for this.. Furniture and lighting selections can also be displayed in this format for the client to view laid out in room settings for ease of comprehension. These tools can sell the designers ideas to the client and demonstrate what the designer is looking to achieve. Spaces will often be divided up into several areas. Mock up room MUR (this will form the basis of the standard room design later on), suites, public areas (including public bathrooms) and food and beverage areas.

Finish boards

Basic elevations and plans will also be produced at this point for the client to comment on if the designer has been contracted to partake in this. The interior designer will work alongside the architects to ensure that every square metre of the space is used in its most practical, economical and eco-friendly way. It is paramount at this stage that layout works for the operator. The hotelier today know that it is no longer about cramming as many rooms into a building as possible, space and luxury is paramount.

Design development

If the client is happy with the direction, design development can take place. This where the designer takes all the conceptual ideas and basic schemes and develops them into a more realistic design. It is essential that the designer at this stage keeps in mind the concept for the hotel as a whole. One cannot get lost in creating a wonderful room which has no relevance what so ever to the public areas, or vice versa. Cohesiveness is key.

FF&E selection boards

FF&E (Fabrics, Furnishings and  Extras) selection will also be made in more detail here. Furniture boards showing the layout of furniture within the room are produced so the client can visualise. 2D and  3D renderings which are increasingly used to demonstrate the finished product can also be produced at this point if the budget allows. However this tool is arguable becoming a necessity in any spatial design and should always be budgeted for.

FF&E selection and specifications

The designer has to be a relative master of all trades, with in-depth knowledge of fabrics, finishes, sanitary ware, hardware, furniture, lighting, artwork and accessories, knowing the best final result at every step. Selecting products that are fit both for use (commercial durability) but also stylish and financially viable. Once technical plans and elevations have been finalised and approved, one can move onto the specification and procurement (if contracted to) of all FF&E items.

This is a long drawn out process that involves minute attention to detail and superlative organisational skills. Every detail of each item, finish, fabric or accessory must be listed with exact product and supplier information. Quantities must be finalised and each and every item afforded a code for procurement, installation and potentially housekeeping at a later date.

Obviously this has been a much paired down guide on how to design a boutique hotel and we are not able to go into every aspect of the design process but give an outline of what it entails.

The final result arrives when all elements come together at installation stage. This is the fruition of many months, and sometimes even years on larger scale projects, of work.

Tags : hotelsinterior design
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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