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Communal Spaces Boost Hotels' Comfort Factor

Hoteliers are developing unique, high-style nooks, libraries and lounges for guests to find a quiet moment in, catch up on email or chat with a colleague

By Doug Wallace

In times past, business hotels had efficient lobbies, bars that knew how you liked your martini, restaurants that made a mean steak and a traditionally furnished room. These days, hoteliers are developing unique, high-style nooks, libraries and lounges for guests to find a quiet moment in, either to read notes, catch up on email or chat with a colleague. In a sense, this is a living room on the road, creating an at-home sense of comfort for business travellers who may need something more to their day than just airport, boardroom and hotel room.

Claridge’s in London, England, recently opened its Map Room, designed by British design shop Linley. This art deco environ­ment with intimate seating for small meetings has a library stocked by luxury book publisher Assouline and complimentary use of iPads.

The Thornwillow room at The St. Regis New York has been redesigned to work for business meetings, solitary time with your laptop or a pre-dinner drink. The space was created in partnership with custom bookbinder Thornwillow Press, who threw in hand-crafted leather books, fine stationery and shelves of one-of-a-kind luxury items (for sale, naturally) to give it a stylish but still bookish feel. No shushing from librarians here. Instead, staff will fetch you a drink.

These spaces are free of charge with no reserved seating, and most of them are for use by hotel guests as well as the general public.

Global chain Le Méridien is currently re-inventing their lobbies in many cities worldwide, corralling bar, lounge, café, library and lobby into one cozy spot they’re calling the Hub. As well, Quebec’s Groupe Germaine has incorporated similar ideas into the design of their “no-frills chic” ALT chain of hotels. The Halifax Airport location that opened last year comes complete with a pool table in the mix—a clear sign that things are not only get­ting more comfortable but also very cool.

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