HOTEL & SPA LUXE LIFE Offering a designer’s perspective on current trends, Julia Janosa from interior design

consultancy Temza, discusses how to meet the increasing consumer demand for hotel and spa-inspired bathrooms.

The terms ‘hotel-style’ and ‘spa-style’ bathrooms are being thrown around in the world of designers and specifiers at an ever-increasing speed at the moment, naturally paving the way for a variety of questions to arise. Are they the same thing or are they different? What makes a successful scheme? And are they set in stone, or can shifts of trends be observed even within these styles?

First things first, although they have many shared characteristics, hotel and spa inspired bathrooms can most definitely be distinguished as two separate design styles. What ties them together is their simplicity, clean lines and uncluttered look.

‘Hotel style’ normally refers to quite luxurious looking, dark and moody schemes with lots of atmosphere. In terms of colour scheme, they are all about warm dark tones, blacks and browns with touches of brass and chestnut veneer and the occasional lighter colours like crème and beige. The quality of the space itself can be quite compact and without the specific need for natural light, as they are often accented with many sources of artificial lighting to set the mood, including pendants, recessed LED strips and backlit mirrors.

As for the tiling, large formats are an absolute must, with grout carefully matched to make surfaces look as smooth as possible. The wall tiles should be lappato or gloss for bouncing around the mood lighting. As usually all the walls and possibly the floor would be tiled with the same range, simpler patterning works best. A dark toned, more subtly-grained marble or onyx can look neat and not at all overwhelming.

To take the bathroom up a level, the designer’s choice is to commission a matching tiled worktop for a washbowl to sit on top and possibly also a matching shelf for underneath. However, factory finishing the mitred worktop edges and sealing them properly against water requires precision and technical skills; so, until more affordable options emerge on the market, off-the-shelf vanity units in darker colours will remain the go-to option for most ‘hotel style’ bathroom refurbs.

A ‘spa style’ space would be something slightly more relaxed, and heavily inspired by a connection to nature. These schemes usually utilise lighter and comparatively cooler colours such as soft greys, various wood tones and white. Unlike a hotel style bathroom that can be created quite happily from a small and windowless room, spa style ideally requires a larger space and lots of natural light – which can, of course, be substituted with a generous amount of artificial lighting and, for example, recessed LED strips in a ceiling niche for a bright wall washing effect imitating natural light.

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Popular tile choices include concrete-effect, wood-effect, slate-effect and stone-effect, and it’s actually the contrast between different finishes of tiles that creates the signature spa look. There is some flexibility when it comes to tile sizes and large tiles tend to look more elegant, although it’s not an absolute must in this case. Surfaces are often kept matt as opposed to a gloss or a lappato.

As a designer, I have been observing the rising popularity of spa-style bathrooms for a while now, and, even though it started out with a very clean material scheme, there are many designers now who are freshening up this look and mixing in more playful elements- such as encaustic floor tiles or a feature wall of small format chevron or metro tiles.

Accessories are also important, as it’s another way of bringing natural elements inside, so expect plants, wooden ladders and a variety of bath linen on display.

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