Ahead of The Darling’s planned room refurbishment, we asked Lisa Zelinger, Group Manager of Design at The Star, to reveal what guests look for in the perfect hotel room.
The first step in refurbishing a hotel is to test the new design on a prototype room, says Lisa Zelinger, Group Manager of Design at The Star Entertainment Group. “Rebuilding one room allows us to figure out what works and what doesn’t before we invest in the whole building,” she says.
“We can make sure all the little things are right, from the position of the switches to whether we can create the right mood with the lighting.”
At The Darling, The Star Sydney’s luxury five-star accommodation, Zelinger and her team have just had sign-off on Room 584, the ‘King Single’ used as the prototype for the long-planned, but COVID-delayed, hotel upgrade.
With the process still fresh in her mind, we asked Zelinger to tell us what makes the perfect hotel room.
The “greeting setting”
A hotel room has one chance to make a first impression, so making sure things like the lighting is right, the blinds are open and there’s a welcome message on the TV when a guest first enters is crucial to their experience. “It’s what we call the ‘greeting setting’,” says Zelinger. “It has to be exactly right for two things: the time of day and the type of traveller, whether they’re for leisure, business, or, in our case, gaming.”
Beyond that, the perfect hotel room should also feel instantly intuitive. “There should be somewhere to put your key down, your bag, you should know immediately where the iron is and where the soaps are,” she says.
According to guest feedback, the bed is the single most important feature of a hotel room. “The bed is the thing that’s really memorable to people,” says Zelinger. As well as making sure the bed is superior quality to anything you’d get at home, offering a pillow menu is another way to up the experience. “Being able to find the right pillow in a foreign environment like a hotel is critical.”
Lighting and technology
Some hotels will go all-out with technology, installing machines like Sensorwake alarm clocks that wake you up with the scent of fresh coffee or a sea breeze, or footstep-activated LED floor lighting to guide you to the bathroom in the dead of night, but what’s most important to a guest’s experience is that the technology that has been incorporated is appropriate and of a high quality. This means high-definition TVs or large iPads, high-speed and intuitive WiFi, electric blinds and so on.
Lighting is also critically important as it influences the mood and vibe of a room. Having a range of lighting options and easy-to-find switches or controls contributes to a guest’s positive experience.
As well as the rooms, part of The Darling Hotel refurbishment includes an overhaul of the mini bar. Zelinger won’t reveal too much about what to expect as it’s still in the incubation stage, but she says the most important thing is to ensure that the mini bar addresses the needs of the traveller.
At The Darling, guests are doubly fortunate in that they can easily access The Star’s stable of world class restaurants, including the two-hatted Momofuku Seiōbo and one-hatted Sokyo.
The perfect hotel bathroom needs to nail the balance between openness and discreetness, says Zelinger, and be finished in luxurious materials like marble and stone. Using the “latest and greatest” in bathroom products is also really important. “We use Balmain products at The Star which are really covetable,” says Zelinger. “People always want to take them home with them. That’s really important.”