The Five Best Practices in Hotel Foyer Design

By Michael Bedner Chairman & CEO, Hirsch Bedner Associates | October 28, 2008

If the lobby is the heart and the guestrooms the soul, the foyer serves as the connective tissue of a hotel or resort. A series of pathways and vistas that break the guests' visual experience in a way that doesn't give everything away all at once while, a foyer, at the same time, prepares and connects them to what comes next.

While it's a modification in thought and theory, we believe a foyer is a focal point in hotel design and impacts the entire hospitality experience. Far from their ancillary role and no longer simply a physical passageway, a foyer, at its best, becomes a transitional and emotional space between the public and private areas that sets the tone and guest expectations as they move from one experience or environment of the hotel to another.

From a design standpoint, foyers offer challenging and artistic opportunities to create dramatic and bold spaces that direct and call attention to what is happening behind or beyond them. Just by its presence, a foyer can begin the transformation of turning an urban hotel into a private, secluded property and help guests turn their back on the hustle and bustle of the city and move into a tranquil space. An entry foyer sets the theme for everything else that a designer is doing, and may herald a major atrium, a restaurant or a ballroom.

John Portman, one of the best hotel architects in the world made brilliant use of transitional spaces to add contrast and texture or scale. While smaller foyers, such as an elevator foyer or one separating the sleeping area from the bathroom might not have equal impact, they do heighten the overall ambiance of the hotel and make it easier for the hotel staff to provide the optimum hospitality experience.

The most challenging foyer designs are those where we're forced into an artificial solution by virtue of existing architectural restrictions or client preferences rather than following only the dictates of our creative process. Either way, our design philosophy applies. When we work on a new project we approach the design as if it's the first time we've worked on a hotel. We utilize a timeless, well-planned design approach geared to stimulate the guest's sense and emotions and evoke a vivid sense of place.

Here are five elements that must be taken into consideration when designing foyers for their maximize impact and efficiency.

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