What is it with dim? I just never seem to be able to get a hotel room that's light enough. You might have thought the loft living tendency of the last twenty years, minimalism and Scandinavian influences had led us all to ‘chuck out the chintz' (as a certain Scandinavian furnishing chain has it) and go for double-height windows and beams of sunlight as a bare minimum.
But not in hotels. If you're a regular reader you would have seen my recent post on how little touches make the hotel and for me lighting is an essential part of that. It seems that only relatively few modern hotels like the new Pullman Kings Cross (pictured above) seem to get it.
One reason, I guess, is that natural light is hard to come by in big cities. Build a big hotel and one of your major problems is going to be giving rooms any light at all. Quite a few will get poor lighting (and bad views) from interior courtyards or look out onto a narrow street. If you have another building across the way, you'll need good curtains to give your guests any privacy - and that of course cuts down the light coming in.
Some hotels are luckier than others. The Cavendish, in its soaring 60s style tower, has huge windows and views in many rooms, with all that light entering through thin net curtains. On a nice day, it's lovely. Even on a wintry morning, the sight of London spread out below is an absolute joy.
Tune Liverpool Street is another lucky hotel - it's a conversion of a 70s office block, so has great big windows, and the spare furnishing aesthetic delivers for lovers of light. But even if you don't benefit from great natural lighting, you'd think artificial lighting would come to the rescue...
Yet I find many hotel rooms too dark to read in. Maybe there's a desk light and a headboard light for the bed - but I don't want to have to sit at the desk or go to bed in order to read. I want to sit in the comfortable armchair, which is often miles away from any of the lights. That's annoying.
Dimmer switches are not cutting edge tech by any means, so why do so few hotels provide them? I struggle to think of a good reason. Hotels love to talk about how guests can ‘customise' their experience and yet this one basic thing that would put us in charge of our surroundings is often routinely ignored. I've even resorted to reading in the bathroom because it's more comfortable to do so than in the poorly-lit bedroom!
It's not as if hotels haven't adopted some great ideas in lighting. For instance, little blue nightlights in the bathroom (Baglioni, Radisson Blu Edwardian or Pestana Chelsea pictured above) mean you don't have to switch on the blink-making, glaring main light when you're just making a necessary call at three in the morning. I particularly love nightlights as I do hate waking in complete darkness in a strange room (maybe I'm just not enough of a road warrior). Well-designed lighting is a joy.
Wardrobes with built-in lighting are great to see; together with make-up or shaving mirrors with lights in just the right place; and of course, my favourite lighting of all - big chandeliers like the ones at Radisson Edwardian Blu Heathrow which I blogged about. Which brings me on to - why do I never get a chandelier in my room? Here's hoping!
Photo credits: Tune Hotels, Pestana Chelsea Bridge, Cavendish Hotel, Pullman Kings Cross, London Hotel Insight.