The new hotel bathroom: a measure of guest satisfaction

| December 19, 2013

The hotel bathroom, a metric of guest satisfaction and a microcosm of the overall hotel experience, is evolving, reports the New York Times. The news comes as TrustYou, a “reputation-management company” that analyzes guest reviews from such sites as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and others, reports that “bathrooms are failing” — all this despite a 2013 J. D. Power North America report that reveals general hotel guest satisfaction has reached its highest point in seven years.

Hotel chains often take into account customer complaints and concerns when designing and redesigning their properties — including the bathrooms. Reports the Times, Drew Shepard, senior director of consumer insights for Marriott Hotels, interviewed over 7,000 guests to help guide the Marriott’s renovations. “The bathroom is a really important signal for a bunch of things,” he told the newspaper. “You hope it’s a little aspirational, a little better than what you have at home. A little fun.”

hotel bathroom

From vincentq.

So, where can hotel guests expect to see bathroom changes? Some of the new Marriott bathroom features inspired by Shepard’s conversations include thicker towels, a new brand of amenities hailing from Thailand, and, potentially, stronger hair dryers.

Throughout the spectrum of hotel brands, guests may soon notice that hotels are opting for showers instead of baths. “We’ve seen a movement away from tubs in the three-star-and-below category in the U.S.,” Stephani Robson, a senior lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, told the Times. “It’s cheaper, faster. It takes up less space.”

The shower will receive some dramatic new updates as well. Handheld shower heads, long popular in Asia and Europe, are now being adopted in American hotels, while shower benches are being implemented, too. (“Older and larger customers appreciate [the shower benches],” Robson said. “And we’re getting older and we’re getting larger.”)

hotel bathroom

More US hotel bathrooms will have detachable shower heads, like this one in Taiwan. From Tomas Fano.

Wyndham hotels’ bathrooms will be outfitted with a “new ‘shower column’ [with] a rainfall head, body sprayers and, on the side, a hose with a handheld shower head,” as well as a recycled shower curtain designed with a “peek-a-boo” window, and “netted material across the curtain at eye level, which helps open up the room.”

Additionally, swinging doors are being phased out, replaced with sliding doors that allow more light in. “In urban markets where you have space constraints, we are moving toward what they call barn doors and adding some transparency to them,” explained Shepard, of Marriott. The sliding doors also improve access to the bedroom. Another casualty of modernization? The makeup mirror, which, as of 2012, only 23 percent of hotels offer, a figure down from 33 percent in 2010.

In addition to its obvious functions, the hotel bathroom serves as an easy, if “unscientific” method for judging the rest of a hotel property. As Professor Robson explained, she can estimate how many stars a hotel has based on the bathroom fixtures: “Four fixtures? It’s a four-star hotel,” she said. “Five fixtures, it’s a five-star hotel. Six or seven stars? There’s a bidet.”

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  1. VR Bathroom says:

    You’re right to point out the disappearance of bath tubs in hotel rooms these days. Personally I much prefer to unwind with long soak in the bath to a shower. It’s getting harder to do this now.

    • D. Harris says:

      🙂 – Ask for a Handicapped Suite. Typically they are 10X nicer than the standards and have tubs. I’m not sure how they determine if you are actually handicapped. Once I stumble in with my cane it’s a no-brainer. 🙂

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