With Christmas and the panto season upon us my thoughts are turning to the evitable round of social functions which may also result in a few overnight stays at seemingly lovely hotels. However, all is not good in this charming scenario of living it up in swanky hotel rooms because for those of you who like to be able to see to do your hair and perhaps make-up (and I don’t just mean us ladies ;-) then it’s the ‘will they or won’t they’ situation that adds that certain excitement to the experience and not in a good way.
The question I am referring to is of course will they have decent, usable lighting around a mirror in the room and not just the bathroom (which can also be appalling too in most cases with harsh overhead spots and no ambient light). The second questions is will it also have a plug socket in the vicinity, so you don’t have to risk life and limb with a long flex on your hair dryer doing your do in the bathroom. These are my biggest gripes and cuts across all levels of star ratings and is especially true of some of the best hotels in the world.
Most hotels seem to be designed by men or done to an age old formula (two bedside lamps, one table lamp on the desk, one very inadequate ceiling fitting, if you are lucky) which seem not to cater for any glamour pusses amongst us and gives little real atmosphere for what I suppose they are aiming for with the dim questionably ‘romantic’ lighting. Please hotel builders, interior designers and alike hear my cry for somewhere to do my preening which doesn’t make me look like one of the ugly sisters due to the fact I cannot see where my eye liner is going in the dim ‘atmospheric’ lighting supplied by you.
A random example of an attractive but dark un-functional room.
One hotel I stayed at recently in Harrogate had the most beautifully decorated rooms I have stayed in and a bed that I can honestly say was more comfy than my own rather noteworthy version at home. However, they had black shades on all the lamps and ceiling fittings and I could honestly not see a thing once the night drew in. Such as shame as it would stop me going back again and yet it ticked all my other ‘must haves’ for a good night away.
I also believe poor room lighting is a problem for ladies and gentlemen alike if you should want to actually work in a room too. They, more often than not these days, supply Wi-Fi and desks with rooms but unless you bring your own candles (sharp intake of breath as the Health and Safety risk of that of course!) you cannot see to write on a piece of that old fashioned stuff called paper, why is that? Desk lamps with thick or dark shades that throw light up and down and not around do not supply good desk lighting or anything worthy of a make-up artist and yet still we have them, why?
So often interior designers go for looks alone and have no idea how to make the space functional and pretty at the same time. So in my fairy-tale they don’t get to go to the ball but back to school I reckon for them. We all love a beautiful space but if we cannot function in it as we would like then it ruins the experience. I am sure hoteliers would prefer their guests to enjoy all aspects of their stay rather than go away unhappy and let’s face it boys its your ladies who really decide where they want to stay (and return to) for that romantic weekend away so let’s try and design to keep us important fairy-tale princesses happy so we can continue to think of you as our prince charming’s (although perhaps that is why the lighting is so dim to keep us thinking that you all look more ruggedly handsome than you do ;-).
So, tell me fellow hotel guests, where is the best hotel for lighting you have come across? Who is the Cinderella or the ugly sister of the world’s hotel stage? Who should we avoid to save us from the peril of the wicked witch who could be staring back at us from the badly lit mirror? I look forward as always to your comments.
Lorraine Calcott - Director, It Does Lighting Consultancy