Front Desk

When form doesn't follow function

Thereâ€â„¢s nothing like staying in a trendy boutique hotel to make this 45-year-old feel like, well, a 45-year-old. While Iâ€â„¢m a champion of the cutting edge design aesthetic, there are times when I wonder if designers ever actually test drive the designs that owners sink big bucks into. And really, hotel owners should also be testing these products.

Case in point: I just returned from a visit to a Caribbean property celebrating a recent $10 million renovation. Granted, the place isnâ€â„¢t quite done. Containers of furnishings sit offshore while the owner fights with the local government over duty issues. (Thatâ€â„¢s another story.) The issue for this guest, however, was the bed—mainly the fact that I had a hard time getting out of it, and not because I was luxuriating in its heavenliness. (Yes, I know, the bed issue is so last century, but my colleague Carloâ€â„¢s entry, "Heavenly beds, irritating sheets," got me going on this). The problem was, the minimalist, cool-looking platform bed was torturous to exit. Low to the ground, it required rolling over to my side to get some leverage and then doing an awkward push to haul myself up to standing position. I had flashbacks of the sleepless holiday I spent assigned to a leaky air mattress at my sister's house--but this was a three-star-rate hotel, not my sister's comped rec room. And while Iâ€â„¢m not svelte, I am relatively fit; so if I had a bit of a problem with the platform, I can only imagine the larger problem my parents or any senior guests might experience.

Not only that, the king-size bed comprised two mattresses set in a king frame, so that rolling over the dividing space was a constant irritation.

My simple question is this: why donâ€â„¢t some hotel owners and designers actually use furnishings before installing them in guestrooms? They should take their cue from the big chains and put a bit of time and effort into test driving their product.

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