You’ve thought through a design that will be timeless. You’ve imagined a space infused with local flavor. You understand the demographics of the expected clientele. But if the design is for an extended stay hotel, there is much more to consider.
On top of all the other things that go with hotel design, extended-stay needs to embrace a sense of comfort and accessibility beyond most hotel spaces. Because guests are staying for a much longer period of time than a traditional hotel, that home away from home feeling is key in the most successful extended stay hotels.
Of all the public spaces in a hotel, there are three that need special consideration: the buffet, the dining room, and the common area.
Eating is a big part of what home is. One of the comforts of home that you don’t generally get on the road is being able to look in the fridge for a snack anytime you want. So making food accessible to guests at extended-stay hotels is important.
Buffets are the usual choice for hotels where accessibility is a main concern. But the type of buffet you employ will depend on the functionality you’re going for and the space available. For instance, large circular buffets offer great accessibility and plenty of space for food, but have a large footprint. Long buffets take up less space but don’t offer as much accessibility as a circular set up.
An extended-stay hotel buffet needs to be able to accommodate full hot and cold breakfasts, lunches, and dinners—plus late night offerings. Many extended-stay hotels offer 24/7 tea and coffee so you’ll need to work in the space for that. Many hotel spaces are also working a bar into their common areas to further increase comfort and accessibility.
The Dining Room
Do you want the dining room to be separate from the buffet? Should they be one in the same space? What kind of seating do you need?
The dining room can be tricky because it evolves into much more than just a place to sit and eat. It should offer flexible space for different size groups and private spaces for solo diners. It should be a place where guests can watch TV, read, and even work without disturbing each other too much.
Create spaces that incorporate larger tables, smaller tables, and booths. Install lighting to accommodate several types of activities. Don’t forget plenty of charging outlets or stations for the technology.
Not only are dining rooms places to eat, they are places to work, play, and socialize. For a home away from home feel, provide space for people who may want to invite guests to the hotel to collaborate or socialize.
Hotel design in general is moving toward a more flexible common space, but it is especially important in extended-stay settings. The common area is a place to meet, the entrance and exit, the place to eat, and a place to socialize. It is, in essence, the living room of the hotel—a sort of grand central station for everything that is extended-stay. Functionality in the common area is key.
The common area sets the tone for everything else. Yes, first impressions matter, but even more important, it will welcome guests “home” for many days. The flow, colors, and amenities in the common area are the crux of the design. It must be neutral enough that it feels homey, but not outdated or difficult to access so that it is uncomfortable. It cannot be trendy or overly stylized as many hotels tend to be. It is space that looks like a home but functions as a hotel. Luxury is not as much a consideration as coziness and security are.
Set aside the demographics momentarily and contemplate the psychographics—the psychology of the guests you are designing for. What are they thinking? What do they want? Get inside their heads to get inspiration for you design.