Refreshing your guestroom furniture is essential to keeping your accommodation looking fresh and modern and comfortable for guests. However, making design decisions and furniture choices can be a daunting task, it comes with a significant financial cost to your business so it’s vital you make no mistakes.
Clearly refurbishing your guestrooms is an important investment in maintaining guest satisfaction and improving occupancy, but how do you ensure that your investment is responding to current design trends while remaining ‘timeless’? Will your selections enhance the style of your property and complement the overall interior design aesthetic? Importantly will it speak to your intended audience?
The choices can be overwhelming, so we asked two leaders in the accommodation guestroom refurbishment space to share their expertise…
Jo Street, Managing Director Furn-Niche has some tips on the practical aspects of hotel and accommodation refurbishments.
She said: “Establishing a realistic budget is the first step to guestroom refurbishment success.
“This will allow you to determine the scope of your refurbishment.”
“Will it be a full a partial refurbishment? Will it include hard finishes like carpet, paint, and joinery, or just the loose furnishings?
“If you are only doing a partial refurb, try to look objectively at the space to determine the pieces that look the most tired and uninviting. Typically, it’s the sofas, armchairs, and cushions. Then, determine if you want to keep the same style in your hotel or if you want to introduce a new concept that harmonises with existing furniture. Even if you are only doing a few pieces, ideally develop the full scheme so you have a plan that can be staged.”
Why consider bespoke?
When it comes to guestroom furnishings, ‘bespoke’ is a word that is commonly heard. But what are the benefits, and is it always the right fit?
Ms Street said the biggest benefit of bespoke is the freedom of choice.
“It gives you the freedom and flexibility to customise your products according to your needs and taste,” she said.
“You can select fabrics, colours and certain finishes based on your existing fit-out to make your hotel more exclusive and authentic.
“While we guide you through the process, we adapt our design to suit your budget.”
Additionally, Ms Street added that “bespoke furniture can be an important factor when it comes to meeting specific building requirements and operator standards”.
What makes good furniture design for accommodations that strive to create the most comfortable and attractive space for guests?
Ms Street said: “Choosing timeless and commercial-grade products and finishes was essential to the success of any guestroom refurbishment.
“It’s so important to use commercial fabrics and finishes, as domestic graded furnishings will not withstand high traffic,” she said.
“We recommend multi-functional products such as ottomans and desk and dining chairs for smaller hotel rooms.
“Make selections that will stand the test of time and think about a cohesive look that enhances the overall look of the property and connects the rooms to the front of house and the location of the property.
“Finally remember that furniture trends come and go, and your fit-out should last eight years.”
Kate Ifould, from Hotel Interiors, said prioritising guestroom updates was essential, because allowing your accommodation to become dated inevitably leads to poorer customer satisfaction.
She said: “I have seen some operators, particularly those functioning in a management rights situation, experience stress over the financial outlay involved in a refurbishment so are paralysed into inaction for prolonged periods of time.
“Their property progressively becomes more ‘tired’, rates fall, and reviews become less favourable.
“It is a cautionary tale. A fresh product that is aesthetically appealing and comfortable has a direct correlation to higher ADR and occupancy rates.”
Ms Ifould said that a general rule of thumb was to plan to refurbish rooms every five to seven years, so operators should anticipate this investment in advance.
“Industry standard is to allocate an average of three percent of the room rate generated toward a capital expenditure budget for room renovations,” she said.
“Therefore, a $100 room will cost you $3 in capital expenses per night that it is occupied.”
What is the best way to settle on a design aesthetic?
Ms Ifould said the key was remembering that hotels were often an aspirational experience for guests, meaning most people want to enjoy accommodation that is superior to what they have at home.
Additionally, guestroom furniture and furnishings allow accommodation providers to set themselves apart from the competition, by creating an environment that is both visually appealing while also comfortable and accessible.
“Good furniture design involves striking a balance between aesthetics, comfort, and functionality,” Ms Ifould said.
“It is furniture that is designed and manufactured considering guest comfort and taking into account proportion, materiality and visual appeal.
“From an operator’s perspective, good design takes into account longevity of design and robustness so that it withstands the test of time in terms of both ‘fashion’ and durability.
“Furniture is also one of the most definitive methods of creating a product that stands out from the competition, it provides personality, reflects brand identity, and sends a clear message about the experience guests can expect at the property.”
What about bespoke?
Ms Ifould said that as an alternative to bespoke furniture, customising base furniture can provide a solution.
To explain, she reflected on a real-life example of base furniture being ‘tweaked’ to offer a customised design for a client.
“We had a project in Sydney where we worked directly with the developer and their designer to custom manufacture furniture and joinery for small apartments directed at long-term stays,” Ms Ifould explained.
“Their designer sent us the items they liked, we took those and ‘tweaked them’ to make them commercially viable by slightly altering base structure and finishes.
“We then reviewed the floor plans to determine consistent furniture sizes, so that each item was manufactured in one or two sizes to meet the overall floor plate requirements and functionality.
“The purpose of this was to ‘future proof’ by enabling products to be moved between rooms as needed and to create economies of scale in terms of volume discount on buy price. We also inherently take into account access to rooms through stairwells, lifts, corridors, and doorways!”
Choosing a furniture package
Ms Ifould said there were a few key areas to consider.
“Accommodation operators are almost spoiled with choice when they go online to look at furniture, which I have observed from their perspective to be more overwhelming than exciting,” she said.
“There are certainly set ‘cookie cutter’ furniture packages available in the market, but the drawback is often that these do not take into account the individual idiosyncrasies of each property; sizes can be wrong, product offering doesn’t reflect the brand aesthetic, commercial warranties are lacking and so on.”
Alternatively, Ms Ifould suggested seeking out a Turnkey package with a company that can work alongside you from development to installation to fully customise a solution that meets all your requirements. This allows you to develop a relationship with your furniture supplier and ensures any hiccups are dealt with in a timely manner.
Sarah is a freelance journalist with experience across print, digital and audio. After working for Multimedia Publishing as a contributing writer, she has recently joined the team in a part-time capacity for School News AU and AccomNews.