Latest Trends - A Comfortable Stay Isn't Just About the Guest Room Anymore
By Nicole Gould Senior Interior Designer, Hatchett Hospitality | April 01, 2010
The word "hotel" comes from a generic French term which refers to either a large public building or a nobleman's residence. How appropriate because a hotel still combines public rooms and private quarters.
To better understand the role of a hotel's public space, it's worth a brief look back into history - specifically at one of America's first hotels, the Union Pacific. It was built in 1793 on the Potomac River in what is now Washington, D.C. and was described by a journalist of the day as "the most magnificent building in America."
The Union Pacific - at a cost of $50,000 - was four times as expensive as the finest inns of the time and 10 times as expensive as the typical public houses, or taverns. There were a variety of public meeting rooms on lower floors, while guest rooms were located on the upper floors. With its resplendent architecture, the hotel symbolically glorified every transaction that was conducted within its walls.
Yes, the Union Pacific provided accommodations, but as importantly, it was a geographic reference point in the city and in the young country's emerging transportation network. People met for meals, drinks, business, and politics in the hotel's dining room, public sitting rooms, coffee house, and bar.
In the process, the Union Pacific considerably increased the value of nearby real estate.
Now fast forward to modern day, but first re-read what we've just said about the Union Pacific. Doesn't every hotelier want his or her hotel described today with the same qualities as those attributed to the Union Pacific back in the late 1700's?