Life Goes Strong spoke to architect Gene Kaufman about trends in hotel bathroom designs.

The Bathroom Makeover: Contemporary Hotel Bathroom Designs

Contemporary hotel bathroom designs suggest a big, bold bathroom makeover

Bathroom of the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel
Source: W Fort Lauderdale Hotel

Guests are wowed by the glass walls of the bathrooms at the W Fort Lauderdale.

The next time you check in at a luxury hotel or resort, you may notice a bathroom makeover when entering your room. Hotel bathrooms are getting bigger, bolder and more luxurious than ever before.

Life Goes Strong spoke to architect Gene Kaufman about trends in hotel bathroom designs. Kaufman is the founder of NYC-based Gene Kaufman Architect (GKA) and principal of Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman + Associations Architects (GSKA). His firms are currently working on an extensive portfolio of boutique and international brand hotels as well as the restoration of two of New York City’s landmark hotels – The Hotel Chelsea and The Hotel Bossert. Mr. Kaufman is an expert on hotel architecture and has written about hotel bathroom design for Hotels Magazine.

What are some of the changing trends in hotel bathroom design?

Bathrooms are changing shape and integrating with bedrooms through the addition of glass walls, inset windows and other features. They have become part of the overall room rather than the small, private, functional spaces they once were.

Glass showers have been accepted as stylish, liberating, romantic and a way to simply make small spaces feel larger. The hotel room is evolving toward making the night’s stay an experience one doesn’t have at home, and the open bathroom is part of that, something you might enjoy as a diversion as opposed to the every day.

Has bathroom size changed relative to the size of bedrooms?

Bathrooms are big. Literally. Bathrooms used to occupy 15% of the guest room and have now grown to 20%, 25%, 30% and even more. They are beginning to shrink back a bit, but they remain considerably larger than in the past.

What are the big changes in terms of bathroom fixtures (sinks, tubs, etc.)?

Stall showers with glass walls are replacing tubs in most guest rooms visually connecting them with the bathroom and often the guest room. Lavatories, which were for a long time shielded from the rest of the space, are reemerging and sometimes in the open area of the guest room. Only toilets have not really changed, and are in some cases becoming more private, being set behind walls or enclosed completely.

What have been some of the nicest hotel bathrooms you have visited?

Among many others, my favorites include: Hotel Armani Milan (modern), George V (traditional), and Royal Monceau (unusual) in Paris.

What do you think of the automatic toilets like those made by Toto showing up in some upscale hotels in the States?

We worked on a budget Japanese hotel, where automatic toilets were considered necessary, but they are still very uncommon here, and seem likely to remain that way. It is not often a topic of conversation in our society.

Are hotel bathrooms going green?

Green bathrooms are easily achievable with low-flow fixtures, especially shower heads. But guests want that luxury experience of high volume water in the shower. More often than not, the accent on luxury prevails.

In your own travels, what hotel has had the most memorable bathroom? Why?

Dual Shower systems.

Dual Shower Is So Fantastic!

So far we have seen rain showerheads and the hand showers, designer Thomas Baker wants to give you the benefit of both for a wholesome shower experience. The idea is to have the overhead shower going while you detach the hand shower (encased in the overhead) and take the benefits of both the streams. This is the Unum Rain Shower and Hand Shower, simplified for you folks. I’d be first in line to experiment it and see if the rain-pressure and flow holds good while you use the hand one. No doubt there will be some difference in impact, but it will be worth the try.

Designer: Thomas Baker


You can achieve the mosaic tile effect with the ReBath Durabath wall system.

Vanity Fair (how to upgrade your bathroom vanity on a budget)

Painted bathroom vanity unit

Although it is not as simple as painting a room, with the right planning and prep, painting cabinets can be and an inexpensive remodel solution.

Step 1 – Remove the hardware, hinges and clean the surfaces thoroughly using a clean soft  rag or T – shirt and mineral spirits. Mineral spirits help with cleaning, de greasing and de glossing of surfaces prior to painting. They break down the gloss of oil based paints and open the pores of latex based paint providing a surface for the adhesion of subsequent layers of paint. Be sure to give the surfaces a good scrub to remove old oils, waxes and grime. This is an important step, as paint is a very forgiving material but one the one thing it refuses to abide with is a dirty, greasy surface.

Step 2 – Lightly sand the painting surfaces. If there are any imperfections like dents or groves in the surface, you may want to fill them with a good wool filler first. After sanding, repeat step 1 and clean the surface to remove any dust.

Step 3 – Prime the surface with a stain – blocking primer designed for glossy surfaces.

Step 4 – Apply at least two coats of the paint you have chosen. the the paint dry thoroughly and lightly sand between coats.

Step 5 – Put your cabinets back together after all surfaces are thoroughly dry. Be sure to keep things organised. Have a system for remembering the positioning of the doors.

Top Tips

- Chose a paint that can stand up to repeated washing and is non blocking, so it wont stick to itself when cabinets doors are closed.

- Use the premium grade when using paint from major paint manufacturers, since they tend to be thicker and have more coverage. Avoid flat finishes as theyare much harder to clean.

- Dark colors tend to show imperfections in the paint and cabinetry mush more then light colors do, and contrary to popular belief they usually highlight dirt more.