What makes for a good hotel shower?

By | September 6, 2019

What makes for a good hotel shower?

One of the most variable features of a hotel room is the shower.  I also would say it is one of the more important parts of a hotel room to get right.  Which is why in all of my hotel reviews I mention the type of shower in the room and include a photo (which is always a challenge because showers aren’t inherently photogenic).

I asked followers on Twitter to share their opinions on hotel showers and baths and was impressed by the strong opinions.

The responses showed that people have strong opinions about hotel bathrooms.

Let’s start with the layout of the bathroom.  All hotels have one of three basic types of shower set up:

  1. Shower only
  2. Bathtub with shower
  3. Separate tub and shower

Shower Only

This tends to be most common at modern business hotels and those that have been recently updated.  Most of the time the shower is roughly the same footprint as a tub.  Often it is divided from the rest of the bathroom with a glass wall; either enclosed with a glass door that should stay shut and seal in the water:

Or partially open to the rest of the bathroom:

Some properties, like the Linq in Las Vegas, have a glass wall plus a shower curtain.

I’ve seen some properties, like the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane, getting more and more creative with the shower only option including incorporating it in to the rest of the room (who needs privacy).

The fully enclosed (with a door) can feel confining, while the open shower often floods the rest of the bathroom if not designed properly.

It seems like newer hotels tend to build the drain against one side of the shower as a trough (often with a metal or stone cover).  This makes it easier to avoid stepping on it which some find gross.

For families with small kids, the shower only room is not ideal.

Bathtub with Shower

The most traditional set up seems to be the bathtub with a shower.  You pick between having the water flow out of the lower tap to fill the tub for a bath or switch it to the upper nozzle for a shower.

Most commonly it will have a shower curtain that keeps water from escaping.  I find shower curtains gross and unsanitary.  Even when washed between each guest they gross me out.

The Andaz Liverpool Street in London has a bathtub with shower and no curtain but a partial glass divider.

The tub with shower and half glass divider is probably my least favorite design.  It’s the worst of all worlds.

This tub in Australia just has too many issues to go into.

The Sebel Sydney Manly Beach Hotel

While good for families, tubs are harder for people with limited mobility as not only do you have to take a big step to get in but also the surface can be slippery.

Separate Tub and Shower

The standard of luxury properties is to have a large soaking tub as well as a separate shower.  This definitely is overkill for a quick hotel stay, but on vacation a soak in the bathtub can be relaxing.

A set up like the one at the Park Hyatt Melbourne is pretty common.

The Hilton Madrid Airport fits both in to a smaller space.

Some hotels like to put jets in their tubs to make it seem fancy; if done well and maintained I like it, but a good percent of the jetted tubs I’ve had in a room were either broken or overly complicated.  And I’m guessing the water intake isn’t particularly clean.

Suggestion to hotels: Don’t put a bathtub in the middle of the bedroom like this one at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun.

I’ve noticed newer properties have started to build a “bathing room” within the bathroom for the shower and tub.  The Andaz Tokyo is an example of this concept done well.

A poor example of the shower/tub is at the Aria in Las Vegas where it just feels like they crammed the two together.

Shower Head

I have the strong opinion that a hotel shower should have a handheld shower wand with good water pressure.  It’s a luxury when they also have a rain shower head but at a minimum they should have the detachable wand with hose.

As long as it is tall enough for me to get my head under, I do not care whether the height is adjustable or not.  I know others feel strongly that the height should be able to be changed.

If there is both a handheld wand and a separate fixed shower head, I prefer when you are able to use both at once but it seems that most make you choose.  My shower at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem had three controls: one for the temperature, one to control water to the wand and the other to control water to the ceiling shower head.

Ventilation

While not intrinsically part of the shower, ventilation (a bathroom fan typically) is crucial.  No one wants to step out of the shower into a steaming hot bathroom.  If I have to wipe down the mirror with a towel in order to use it after a shower, the facility isn’t well ventilated.

I prefer an active fan that can be turned on and off to the passive vent that allows air flow.

Some hotels, like the Staybridge Suites in The Hague, have a heated mirror to further reduce fogged mirror.  The problem with this is that it is an added heat source to the bathroom.  I prefer a cool room so this isn’t my favorite feature.

Best Hotel Bath/Shower Design

One of my favorite bath areas in any hotel is at the Kimpton La Peer in Los Angeles.  The free standing tub, glass, wall and floor tile, and lighting all make for a spa like experience.  The shower controls are opposite the shower head so you can turn it on without getting wet.  Privacy is an issue when sharing the room with someone but if you aren’t concerned about that it is beautifully designed.

In your opinion, what makes a good hotel bathroom?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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