Hotels have become leaders in the bathroom-design market. Many home owners take inspiration for their own home bathroom decor from photos they’ve seen of hotel bathroom trends. Hotels are known to push the boundaries of decor and provide a welcoming presence for their guests through the use of luxurious design elements. Here’s a look at how a few of Canada’s leading hotels are interpreting the latest bathroom styles and starting trends of their own.

FIXTURE-UPPERS

Walk-in showers have been a staple in luxury-hotel bathrooms. In fact, during recent renovations at its Saskatoon Inn, Prince George Hotel, Residence Inn London and Toronto Courtyard Toronto Airport properties, Atlific Hotels installed as many walk-in showers as possible in their King rooms. Walk-in showers offer the illusion of more space than a traditional shower and are often made with glass side panels in order to give the space a more open feel.

Additionally, walk-in showers provide safety, as they are easier to step in and out of and users are less likely to slip during the process. Guests who are wheelchair-dependent can benefit from this design consideration, as a stool can be placed in the shower allowing the user to sit down.

Atlific also equipped all its walk-in showers with rainshower heads for a spa-like experience. However, not every shower user wants to feel rained upon, so the newly opened Le Mount Stephen Hotel in Montreal installed a wall-mounted rainshower head in addition to the traditional ceiling-mounted variety.

Atlific also opted to install adjustable shower heads with slide bars at its Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Airport and Sheraton Montreal Airport properties. “The shower incorporates a sliding bar that allows the guest to easily change the height of the shower head by sliding it up or down the bar,” says Garth Ruggiero, corporate director of Procurement at Atlific Hotels. “The shower head is also available as a hand-held variety with an attached hose so it can be removed from its bracket for added ease of showering.”

Le Mount Stephen also included a half-inch thermostatic valve with an integrated two-way diverter. Thermostatic valves have two handles: one that controls the water volume and one that controls temperature. The valve allows the guest to change the flow volume without affecting the temperature. “Over 50 per cent of our custom-finished production is based on shower components,” says Antoine Naoum, general manager of Le Mount Stephen.

To add an extra touch of elegant indulgence, some of Atlific’s hotels — including the Courtyard by Marriott Calgary South — feature stand-alone tubs. This style of bathtub is chic and makes a strong design statement. They are attention-grabbing, and designed for those who love to take baths.

FINISHES

To add to the look of the bathroom, hotels rely not only on upscale fixtures but also on luxury finishes. “Today, most hotel bathrooms are designed to make the space more airy and pleasant, with materials that are easy to maintain,” says Maria Antonopoulos, Marketing director at Hotel William Gray in Montreal. “White tile, glass, stainless steel and quartz help create an atmosphere that feels minimalistic yet luxurious. We used quartz to give the bathrooms a very clean, white appearance.”

The appeal of quartz is widespread and, in some cases, the material can also be used for wall panelling. According to U.K.-based stone-worktop supplier Touchstone Workshops, quartz’s durability, visual quality and longevity enables it to be used in bathrooms for years on end without having to worry about replacing the surface. “[We use] quartz for vanity tops, shower and tub surrounds as these come in a variety of styles,” says Ruggiero.

“We are also starting to see a trend away from the all-white tile tub surround,” adds Janine Anderson, senior designer, Hager Design International Inc. “Although the all-white tub surround will remain a classic for a few more years, we are seeing a move towards using more neutral-toned tiles in greys and beiges, and in patterns like the ceramic Carrara marble-look tiles — often implemented in a stacked layout for a more modern look.” Anderson also points to gold and black metal finishes as a leading-edge design trend for faucets and accessories, but “these finishes often come at a premium, [which] can challenge a client’s budget.”

LIGHTING AND MIRRORS

Good lighting is key to maintaining ambiance and functionality at Atlific Hotels’ properties. Lighting is most important in the bathroom, because that’s where the guest is most likely to do detailed work, such as shaving, plucking eyebrows or applying makeup. It is also where guests tend to see themselves first in the morning and last at night. In addition to general lighting in the bathroom, Atlific Hotels also installed backlit mirrors. Some of these mirrors (by Seura USA and Majestic Mirror) even come equipped with TV screens. They also added magnification mirrors, with up to five-times magnification. “We are seeing the use of the illuminated mirrors as a consistent design trend due to its functional aspect of providing an even distribution of light onto the user’s face,” notes Anderson. “Whether a project is traditional or modern, the illuminated mirror is effective and essential.”

HIGH-TECH ADDITIONS

“At Le Mount Stephen, each bathroom features a defogger in the mirror and an Aquabrass Cura home-spa system,” says Naoum. “This is an authentic spa experience, where you can unwind and simply get away. With built-in features such as aromatherapy, chromatherapy and water therapy, Cura is an ideal destination for a mental and physical boost.”

Chromatherapy is an age-old form of healing that utilizes colour and light and is recognized for its ability to improve mood and overall health. The rain heads installed in Le Mount Stephen offer healing shades of green, red and blue — each with its own therapeutic properties and intensity.

Aromatherapy uses aromatic plant extracts and essential oils to enhance well-being. The showers’ aromatherapy feature is offered through a wall-mounted diffuser system featuring a selection of three unique fragrances.

ENVIRONMENTAL ENHANCEMENTS

Luxury is important to hotel guests, but so is the environment. To address this, “Hotel William Gray added dual-flush toilets, LED lighting and quartz for our vanities,” says Antonopoulos.

Atlific Hotels has also installed LED fixtures in all bathrooms, as well as biodegradable amenities, such as shampoo bottles, in some rooms.

Environmental impact was also considered at Le Mount Stephen, which installed water-efficient Toto toilets in its bathrooms.

CHALLENGES

As with any renovation, hotel bathroom design changes come with challenges. Retrofitting, for example, can be quite challenging at times. “Depending on how the original bathroom was designed, the retrofit for walk-in showers can be troublesome, as quite often the water lines and mixing valve will need to be relocated to avoid blasting the guest with cold or hot water from the shower heads,” says Ruggiero. “Nothing is more frustrating than having to completely enter the shower to turn the water on.”

“With the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines so stringent, often relocating fixtures in a washroom to meet the required guidelines can pose a challenge,” adds Ruggiero. “Trying to realign drains and risers can become a costly [but necessary] adventure to stay brand compliant.”

“One of the biggest challenges come with converting existing tubs into showers,” agrees Anderson. “There are a few good conversion options out there, but often they are not properly budgeted for. Converting a tub to a shower can be exceptionally more costly than anticipated.”

Often, there are more aesthetic challenges to consider. For example, “at Hotel William Gray, we had to be strategic in designing the guestrooms and bathrooms so the natural light offered from the windows was maximized in the space — ensuring great natural light and comfort for our guests,” says Antonopoulos.

But with great challenges come great rewards. The goal of hotel-bathroom design is to create spaces where guests feel pampered — a getaway from life’s challenges.

Written by Sherene Chen-See

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