Due to the nature of our work and the locations of our clients, we are always traveling. One thing that I’ve noticed in my many years at ABD is that there is a vast difference in the quality of the rooms at any given hotel. When I check in, I have a few requests that I announce long before the desk clerk imprints my key. First, I always ask for a room on the opposite side of the hotel from the highway and second I ask for a room at the end of the hallway. So why are these things important to me? Acoustics, of course!
Although, not perfect, many hotels do make an effort to consider the room acoustics, and they do a fairly decent job with the amount of noise that transfers from room to room (rooms with wall mounted TV’s don’t count and honestly should be avoided). But what about the noise from the exterior of the building or from the corridors? How often have you heard or felt the door slam from a room across the hallway or even from several rooms down? What about that group of families vacationing with kids that can’t wait to get to the pool and run all the way down the hallway? Or the group that comes back to the hotel after a social night at the local bar or club? Or my personal favorite, the semi drivers that love to use their jake brakes to slow their rig down at the highway turn off. If you travel much at all, I’m sure that you can relate to these experiences.
My room request doesn’t seem so weird now does it? By selecting a room away from the highway, I can remove all of the exterior noise related to the highway that can wake me up in the middle of the night. I also choose the end of the hall because I’ve noticed that most hotels fill up from the core out; I’m not sure why this is but there is always a greater density of occupied rooms right near the elevator. When I’m on the end, I don’t have nearly as many loud guests walking by (or running) and there are always less doors opening and slamming near me. Once in my room I turn the classic in-room window unit ventilator on (that loud air conditioning machine mounted below your window) and choose a setting where the fan never turns off. This allows for some additional noise masking, ensuring that I have a chance at an uninterrupted night’s sleep. It’s not a foolproof plan, but it usually works.
There are some hotels, however, that get it right and create a fantastic experience for their guests. Noise isolation from room to room, corridor to room, and the exterior of the building to the room are addressed early on in the design process, creating an ideal environment for the guests. The involvement of an acoustical consultant early in your project can make the difference between your guests getting a great night’s sleep or tossing and turning all night wishing they were home in their own beds.