Hotels that put style ahead of usability or common sense

Starwood Hotel's aloft and Hyatt's Hyatt Place were very disappointing. An off topic musing on new hotel concepts.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

While on my way home from a lovely visit to my family and my old home town, I took the time to think about hotels that clearly are designed with style and fashion at the forefront and usability and common sense in the background. I'm thinking about Starwood Hotel's aloft and Hyatt's Hyatt Place.

aloft is trying to be a "hip hotel" while Hyatt place presents itself as a "business hotel." Both suffer from similar issues including:

  • The design team must have presumed that travelers don't bring luggage with them. aloft didn't provide a closet for clothing and only offered a few pegs on the wall so a few pieces of clothing could be hung up flat to the wall. Hyatt Place offered a teeny, tiny closet that would hold some clothing but didn't provide enough room to store luggage.
  • The design team must have thought that customers would like to refold their clothing to fit in little cubbyholes rather than being able to store them in dresser drawers. They must have also though it would be fun to make patrons put valuables on display as well.

In both cases, my wife and I decided to live out of our suit cases rather than leaving clothing and valuables on display in the room.

The aloft designers must have thought people are able to sleep when bright lights are turned on in the middle of the night. A smoked glass panel separated the bedroom from the washroom. Customers faced the choice of turning on the light to be able to safely use the facilities and waking those trying to sleep in the bedroom or leave the light off and risk injury.

Both hotels offered the artsy single cup coffee makers. The aloft appeared to understand that many people might enjoy a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. The Hyatt Place offered one packet of coffee and one packet of decaffeinated coffee even though two people were in the room.

The aloft lobby was industrial, sparse and appeared unfinished. The flat concrete walls bounced sound around and made the lobby unpleasant. Although there was a breakfast area in the lobby, the noise was unbearable so we went elsewhere for breakfast.

The Hyatt Place lobby appeared nicely and comfortably appointed. Unfortunately, the designers must have thought people would like an overpowering scent. I'm not sure what it was but both my wife and I found ourselves coughing and had trouble breathing. Did they consider people with breathing problems or asthma? I think not. When I brought this issue to the attention of the manger, he was nice enough to turn off the machine that produced the terrible smell. The lobby stench remain throughout our visit.

Both of these chains fall into the "what where they thinking" category. We won't choose them again. I'd urge you to check out the rooms and lobby before selecting them. Far better properties are available at similar prices in similar locations.

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