At Valor, we want to make staying at our hotel the most desirable option for our guests – giving them an amazing F&B experience so they don’t have to worry about leaving and having to pick from a long list of restaurants they don’t know. But when refurbishing a hotel restaurant, you have to look beyond the simple needs of hotel guests and look too at the needs of your surrounding area to see how you can fill the gap. Generally, if you create a fabulous restaurant and bar experience for outside guests, hotel guests are naturally driven to stay. We also start with focusing on what diners look for today from their dining experience and build around that.
Take elements and inspiration from local history if you can. In our Doubletree by Hilton Leeds hotel, we are creating a new restaurant and bar experience called The Lock which gives a nod to the canal system which runs alongside the hotel. The design is based on a rugged nautical theme with comfortable furnishings to add character. Liverpool’s Hotel Indigo also draws on local heritage with influence taken from the city’s once booming cotton trade and 1960s music scene.
Create a flow
But don’t design for design’s sake. Make sure the flow works – eliminate bottlenecks so staff can move around freely and efficiently. At our newly refurbished Sky Lounge at the Doubletree by Hilton Leeds, creating more space to enable us to quickly and effortlessly serve guests was a top priority. But to maximize the use of the space, it has to be flexible too. The Sky Lounge is a sophisticated restaurant or meeting space by day and a modern cocktail bar by night.
Comfort is key
Make the furniture interesting but make the chairs comfortable. We subscribe to having guests stay and relax, not making it uncomfortable and getting them out quickly. If possible, spaces should also offer multiple seating configurations – from dining table and chair, to sofas and soft seating with the menu available to all. Some guests like far more casual styles and for single travelers not wanting to get stuck in their room with room service; they feel much more comfortable and less self-conscious relaxing in soft seating than at a formal dining table.
Embrace the senses
Let great smells permeate from the kitchen. Have an open kitchen? Make it pure theatre! Never drown out the happy, laughing, clinking glass sounds of your guests with overly loud and heavy bass music. Always think about acoustics when designing as they become critical. As do too many hard surfaces which can result in colder temperatures, especially in winter.