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Hotel Design

Just some random thoughts here but I was visiting the USA early last month and I noticed some issues with the places I stayed. Maybe because I’ve been reading so many software design articles they stuck out as poor design.

For example I was at the Mariott Residence Inn in Redmond WA and some minor design issues…The carpet in the hallways was too thick making it a chore to pull my luggage to my room. It felt like I was pulling it through mud. Clearly Airports understand this and make sure their carpets are thin so that wheels roll on them.

Did Mariott consider that? Has anyone other than me noticed?

Another minor one, the way the shower was designed and with the thick white shower curtain they had, if you closed the shower curtain the shower was DARK. The darkest shower I’ve ever been in. There was no way for light to get into it.

It made me wonder if it was intentional like maybe they wanted people to conserve water so they intentionally made the shower un-inviting so people would spend as little time in there as possible.

I’m not saying the Mariott Resisdence Inn was bad. It was a very nice place. I just wondered about these minor issues. I wonder is there a hotel construction design book that actually lists things like “don’t use thick carpet, it will make your guests feel like they have to pull there luggage through mud” or maybe it says the opposite “Use think carpet, that way trying to roll luggage on it will be difficult and guests will end up asking for someone to help them which will might earn a tip”. I hope it’s the first and not the second advice.

I was also at the Hawthorn Residence Inn in Santa Clara/San Jose area. They had the same problem with the carpet…too thick…but, they also had a more obvious problem. The entire first floor of the hotel was paved in a cobblestone type of flooring. What this did was make any rolling luggage go CLACK, BANG, CLICK, BONK loudly down the hallways. Since I got in at like 12:30am I’m sure I was annoying people trying to sleep with the noise it made. It’s got to be worse in the morning when lots of people are leaving early and lots of others trying to sleep in. What were they thinking when they chose to put bumpy flooring in?

The Hawthorn Residence Inn in general was pretty crap. Other things that were wrong although maybe not “design issues” were: The bed lamps were broken. The TV didn’t work, the walls were thin and I could hear the guy in the next room snoring loudly, their wireless networking signal was too low to use and finally when I woke up for breakfast there was no place to sit. The room was too small and was full. No biggy, I was only there one day.

Even the San Jose Airport had a few issues. One was the signs outside the elevators that showed what was on what floors was upside down. A normal elevator sign shows higher floors above lower floors. It fits your mental model. You’re on floor 1, you see on the sign floor 4 is above you so you press the UP button. But, the San Jose Airport elevator signs had them upside down with the 1st floor written at the top and the 4th floor written at the bottom of the sign. I wonder how many people (if any) have pushed the wrong direction button because of that?

I’m not a building designer or an architect but it would be interesting to know if there are building design books that cover all those kinds of issues just like there are software user interface design books and web user interface design books. I know there are books that cover visual design but what I’m asking about is more like usage design.

  • building
    Christopher Alexander

    The software design patterns movement originated from books talking about building design.

    http://www.math.utsa.edu/sphere/salingar/Chris.text.html

  • attila
    elevator

    Hahh, good idea. You ought to start writing the book: “Hotel usability design for dummies”. :)

    The thing about the elevator is maybe not an issue, because 50 percent of people press the wrong arrow anyway. They usually argue by: “I’m at the top floor, so I’m pressing the [UP] button to CALL the elevator UP.”

    Go figure!

  • albertj

    Greg, you’ve been spoiled by Japan, where much more thought is given to pleasing the consumer rather than just making a profit. If you ever ride BART here in the Bay Area you’ll be appalled at how poorly designed the ticket machines and kaisatsu are, not to mention the filthy trains. My pet peeve is how most suitcases sold in the US are designed to NOT be self-standing when rolling: you have to hold one end up, and not only that, they roll with the wide end facing forward, making it awkward in crowded areas. The answer to “What were they thinking of?” is “They weren’t.”