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Room Without A View?

Hoteliers Look To Pare Project Costs, Develop Unique Locations With Unconventional Option

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Dennis Nessler
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When most people check into a hotel often one of the first questions they have regarding their room is what kind of view does it have. I know it’s one of the more important considerations for me, especially when it comes to scenic coastal resorts or even urban downtown properties. So how would you feel about no view at all?

Well apparently that’s now an option as some high-profile hotels are offering windowless rooms. One prominent example is The Standard Hotel, which opened in July in London. The ultra trendy hotel brand has carved a reputation for being on the cutting-edge of fashion with properties in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, and now its newest addition is offering some 28 “cosy core rooms” within its inventory of 266 guest rooms. The windowless doubles are just one of the more than 40 room types within the hotel.

These rooms were primarily the result of the confines of the 1970’s brutalist building, which was the former Camden Town Hall Annex. However, the hotel’s management has run with it marketing these rooms as being ideal for sleeping. (As a frequent traveler I will acknowledge that if I don’t have a view I’d just as soon not have to play the frustrating game of trying to stretch the drapes and/or blinds to cover that last little piece of daylight that invariably seems to illuminate the whole room, but I digress.)

I’m sure there are a percentage of guests who would prefer a dark room, such as those who like to stay out late, particularly when it comes to casino hotels which offer gambling until all hours. Nevertheless, this is not a consumer driven concept but rather it’s being driven by owner/developers looking to cut down on development costs. (Some have questioned the legality of these rooms but it seems as long as there is adequate ventilation and egress these rooms are up to code.)

Windowless rooms are more commonplace in Asia and England, locations where space is at a premium, than here in the U.S. with a few exceptions. In addition, such rooms are regularly seen on cruise ships where interior cabins don’t have windows or as much as a port hole. I can tell you having stayed in such rooms, they can be a bit dark and disorienting at times, not to mention claustrophobic. Nevertheless, they do provide the cruise ships the opportunity to sell the exterior rooms with a view at a premium.

While I don’t expect the windowless room concept to become a major trend in the U.S. hotel industry, similar to modular construction I would expect that you will see more of it going forward, particularly as development in major urban areas becomes more and more difficult and costly. If it does indeed become more prevalent in coming years, the challenge will shift from developers to designers to make these rooms both desirable and comfortable for guests. There are a number of things that can be done to make windowless rooms more guest friendly, whether it’s the use of mirrors and large artwork or frosted glass windows and draperies, as a few examples.

Can it be done? Yes. Should it be done? That’s another question entirely. We have to be careful as an industry that we don’t focus too much on doing things that appeal to developers at the expense of the end user. But like anything else, as long as the guest knows and is aware of what they are getting I say let them make the decision, particularly if they have the option of paying less for such accommodations.

My guess is it’s likely nothing more than a niche concept that will be seen in unique locations, but it’s certainly something to be on the lookout for, so to speak.
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Dennis Nessler    Dennis Nessler
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