Bathrooms with a view have in recent years emerged as a major interiors trend for hotels, says CLARK KELLY
A fantastic view can go a long way to softening the hardship of being away from home. Take the guest’s breath away and they’re less likely to think about what comforts they’re missing. This is a lesson the Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, UAE, takes to heart.
Whether or not guests like taking baths, the hotel’s designers have guaranteed they will spend time in the fantastically appointed bathroom, where they watch the city wake up each morning or wind down slowly each evening. The top eight floors of the hotel offer some of the best views of the emirate’s main drag, including the 160-storey Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
Living space: Jumeirah Creekside
Hotel and the music bathtub Nahho
Bathrooms with a view have in recent years emerged as a major interiors trend for hotels, popping up everywhere from Shanghai in China (the Hyatt on the Bund) to New York in the US, where the bathroom of the Oriental Suite at the Mandarin Oriental overlooks Central Park and midtown Manhattan, offering spectacular views of the sunrise over the Big Apple. Part of a broader hotel design trend to bring the outdoors inside, endowing the most utilitarian room of all with stunning views turns it into an indulgent luxury experience that never fails to win hearts.
But that’s not all. Bathrooms are now more often than not places to linger a little. Luxury hotel baths have become a space to live in, according to statements from Trisha Wilson, the founder and chief executive of Wilson Associates, a company which has built hotels with open bathrooms in China, Morocco and Vietnam, among other locations. Often, she adds, as much as 50 per cent of guest room space can be dedicated to the bathroom.
Hoteliers are responding by creating spa-like sanctuaries and by putting the latest technology into bathrooms. Putting spa elements into a chill-out bathroom ensures guests have a relaxing stay. Old showers are out, body jet and rain showers are in, with oversized bathtubs oozing luxury. At the W Montreal hotel, designers have crafted a stylish environment by placing a large, free-standing tub in the middle of the suite surrounded by glass shower doors. Spa-like bathroom amenities complete the look. The St Regis San Francisco also offers an oversized tub with marble vanity complete with two glass sinks, a ceiling-mounted rainfall showerhead and detachable handheld shower.
Bathtubs with inbuilt speakers or televisions are now also all the rage. Duravit’s Nahho floatation tubs, named for dugout canoes and designed by Eeos, offer a feeling of floating in water, by allowing bathers to stretch out in full. The tub features a removable headrest and comes with a new sound module above and below the water, for that spa feel. Additionally, users can opt for Bluetooth-powered speakers to add their music of choice.
A similar product is available from Kohler, whose Vibracoustic range of bathtubs sends ambient, sound-wave vibrations through the water, offering what may be the ultimate in deep relaxation.
Karim Rashid goes one step better. The uber-designer has created an extraordinary deluxe accessory for the Korean bath company Saturn: a TV bathtub! In line with his philosophy of simplicity and functionality, Rashid deliberately placed a waterproof LCD television at the foot of the oval-shaped whitish bathtub, which is delicately made up of liquid acryclic resin. Even better, the material of the tub is not only of high durability and luxe texture but also possesses antibacterial qualities.
And even the toilet today is more than just a standard toilet: the SensoWash shower-toilet seat designed by Philippe Starck features pioneering technology. A stainless steel spray arm with three shower types performs the function of a bidet. Water temperature, water volume and nozzle position can all be individually adjusted. Feeling clean and fresh, the next stage is the warm, drying air.
Haute stuff: Designer lines
The need to stand out extends to the new Horizontal Shower from German manufacturer Dornbracht could add a bit of pizazz to the hotel bathroom. Using the groundbreaking Ambience Tuning Technique, users can enjoy this shower technology lying down! “With Horizontal Shower, we are transporting the showering experience into a new dimension,” says CEO Andreas Dornbracht. “The result is total relaxation, the kind only experienced by someone reclining. Tension in the head and muscles melts away, everyday stress is washed away with the water; body and mind are revitalised.” The Horizontal Shower included six WaterBars that are recessed in a wide-area shower field located above a recliner.
Even small changes make a big difference. “The way fittings are operated also plays a major role,” says designer Tom Schönherr of the Stuttgart-based studio Phoenix Design, quoted on an ISH website. “Thermostats that give me exactly the temperature I’ve programmed have caught on more and more. On the other hand, the way the shower functions – i.e. the way the water comes out of the showerhead – is crucial too. Here the changes even include electronic operation that permits complete control of the functions of the individual outlets, things like the flow rate, changing water temperatures or switching between different kinds of jet and so on.”
Another new innovation in bathrooms is the innovative use of digital technology. Digital technology provides a custom shower experience, enriched with a custom digital hydrotherapy system controlled by a single, easy to use digital interface panel. Such products allow customisation so that each person who uses the shower can program his or her showering preferences, which can be activated simply by pressing a button.
Technology also goes green. Given their huge outlay on electricity and water, hotels were among the first to look for green solutions in the guest rooms, installing low-watt bulbs and putting advisory notes about laundry in prominent places in the room.
New dimension: The Dornbracht
“Hotels most certainly hotels look for green solutions in bathrooms today. If a hotel is not environmentally friendly it will die its natural death because protecting environment is of utmost importance. Hotels do try to incorporate green solutions in the bathrooms that can be leveraged while maintaining the luxury of the hotel, light saving is one of the most common, however recently the trend of using green bath tubs has caught up,” says Sanjay Sharma, Complex General Manager for The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa. “We at the Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi utilise only organic products in the bathrooms which is again an attempt to maintain green initiatives at the property. With ever-increasing pollution and global warming hotels will have no option but to incorporate more and more green solutions.”
Suppliers are also responding to the trend, creating products that maximise efficiencies. Over at Grohe, this trend is referred to as conscious luxury. “Water is being seriously considered as a scarce resource and the concept of luxury at the cost of resources in no more accepted. Grohe Ecojoy products squarely address this issue by allowing water savings of up to 68 per cent which can be achieved without any compromise on performance and design,” says David Haines, chief executive officer at Grohe AG.
For those who can’t wait, there is the Grohe Ondus, the company’s most luxurious and top-of-the-line range. Described as the “Ipod of the bathroom industry” because it combines digital technology and a sensually minimalist design aesthetic, Ondus is a line of faucets and mixers that can be controlled by remote. “An icon-based user interface digitally facilitates effortless operation. Our icons speak a consistent language. Their symbols are understood everywhere in the world and enable an intuitive use of all water functions. Fingertip control for a unique water experience innovation has never been more appealing. The technology makes it easy for every user to find their personal settings for temperature, flow rate or spray pattern,” says a spokesperson.
Finally, there is space, one of the most prominent trends in hotel bathrooms at the moment. “The most prominent trend in the hotel bathrooms space at the moment is the migration of useable clutter-free space for one’s personal needs,” says the Westin’s Sharma. “Bathroom space in the recent times is not just a place to tend to natures call but it is more of a personal space. The emphasis is more on design, luxury, style and space to create an environment that highlights feel good factor.”