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SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DESIGNING LIGHTING SCHEMES FOR HOTELS
by Bill Noble (lighting designer)

I love working on hotel lighting schemes as they are fun and full of challenges! There is usually scope to do something exciting with the lighting, and make a real contribution to the impact and ambience of the hotel.

The most challenging and interesting spaces are of course the public spaces: the foyer, bar, restaurant, and bedrooms. These are the spaces that provide the most impact and contribute the most to customer experience and their enjoyment of their stay.

First impressions are critically important with the hospitality industry so the exterior lighting also needs to be carefully considered. By exterior I mean not only the lighting on the outside of the hotel but also the interior lighting that is visible through the windows and glazed doors as a customer approaches. These two forms of lighting need to be considered together.

When a customer looks through the windows and main entrance they need to be able to tell what kind of hotel it is. 5 star hotels will not be wanting to attract Premier Inn customers and of course vice versa. Obviously the decor plays a very large role in placing the hotel correctly but so of course does the lighting, the two being intimately connected.

When the customer enters it is important to decide where to draw their eye. What do you want them to notice first? Is it the ambience? Is it the reception desk? Is it the bar? Wherever it is, lighting can be used to guide the eye. Foyers usually have a mixture of areas each with its own lighting needs. They must complement each other and not compete for attention. A different lighting scheme will be needed for the daytime, the evening, and the middle of the night. These can be selected automatically by timer and light sensor, or manually.

Bedrooms need very special care to light well as a variety of moods are required. You first need to consider how you want the bedroom to look when the customer first enters? Ideally you will have an entry scene activated by a single button or by the door entry key. This scene may be different for day and night. This should set a scene like a scene in a play as it is the hotel's best opportunity to make a significant impact. The customer then needs to be able to acivate scenes for dressing, watching TV, and reading in bed using clearly labelled light switches. It is the reading scene that is often a problem in hotels where insufficinet thought has been put into providing adequate directional light.

The most neglected area of lighting in hotels is usually the bedroom corridor. This is often coldly funtional and uninviting. However, with just a little thought about the type and position of the light fittings the corridor lighting can be attractive, and can set an appropriate mood.

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