Hotel Lobby Design Guide (4 Essential Elements to Include)

Many factors go into the success of a hotel. They can range from business processes to customer interactions. However, most people don’t consider the hotel lobby design right away.

First impressions are very important, so having a well-designed hotel lobby is critical for creating an image. Aside from the outside architecture, it’s also the first impression of your overall hotel design.

Right away, the customer decides if they’ve entered a nice hotel or an undesirable one. The goal should be a focus on a clean yet inviting style. You want to keep the look updated and filled with the appropriate lighting and accessories. Consider the following points of interest to focus attention on when designing a hotel lobby.

Create a Design Strategy

The first step to creating an inviting and appropriate hotel lobby is figuring out the design strategy. Most hotels have a theme or some branding in place already, especially larger hospitality chains. (That said, smaller boutique hotels need solid design cohesion.)

Decide what that branding or theme is and try to incorporate that into the lobby’s entire design. For example, does the hotel feature any prominent colors? If so, you can use those colors for highlights or accents. You don’t necessarily need to overdo things with these colors, but a nod to them here or there is a great way to tie a look together.

Another key to creating the right design strategy is determining what type of clientele the hotel caters its services to before you begin. Does the hotel appeal to the upper class or affluent crowd, or is it for the average middle-class individual? Determining this factor helps start the process of choosing materials and accessories for the design. For example, if you have a five-star hotel, you wouldn’t select basic chairs and seating that are intended for a family-friendly hotel and vice versa. You’d want to focus on luxury fabrics and brand names that evoke a sense of style and sophistication. In contrast, if you have a family-friendly hotel, you’d want to focus on durability and comfort for guests of all ages.


Another area to consider is the practicality of the lobby as a whole.

  • Does it need to accommodate so many people?
  • Does there need to be an eye-catching floor, or does it need more sensitive materials?
  • What do people expect in terms of technology (USB, flat screens, etc.)

These are just a few questions to help create the overall design. Those designing a lobby for an upscale hotel want to consider luxury flooring that features tile designs and clean lines. Using marble and tile or similar material is standard in these design schemes. If you create a more accessible or family-friendly hotel, you might consider carpeting or even snap and click tiles for easy care and a warmer, cozier environment.

You also want to be practical with the furnishings and the accessories. While it is expected to have high-quality designer furnishings in an upscale hotel, you wouldn’t take the same approach in a three-star hotel. When choosing the lighting and accessories for a four or five-star hotel, you want to choose eye-catching floral arrangements in large vases to draw the eye and create texture and color. Large plants scattered carefully throughout the area are also a great touch. Tables of different scales and matching furniture can help make comfortable sitting areas throughout the lobby, so guests can relax while they wait.

Adding Zones to the Lobby

Lobbies of the past were usually one central space used to greet guests and provide seating if they were waiting for a room, another party, or transportation. The lobby of today is far more complex and evolved. These spaces are zoned for different features, such as open space bars and small cafe areas. There may also be some boutiques or places where guests can purchase gift items or essentials. It’s become a multi-purpose space zoned into separate yet flowing areas. Some areas to focus attention on when designing the lobby include making adequate space for other business areas, designing the flow of scheme, location of each zone to the main entrance, and spacing.

Think About the Scale of the Lobby

The scale of the lobby is an important consideration. If there is considerable foot traffic through the lobby, or it’s located in a busy part of town, you’d want to consider having more offerings in the area. Some common ideas can include coffee shops, magazines and newsstands, small cafes, and more. Creating a lobby on a larger scale is a great way to generate additional revenue. Rather than staying in their rooms, guests will want to venture out to the lobby to purchase items and spend time relaxing.

Appealing to the Senses

If you want a great first impression, consider all of the senses when designing the lobby. Not only do you want it to look appealing and updated, but you also want to ensure it’s not too overwhelming in volume, and you want it to feel and smell great. Consider the fabrics you use for your window treatments and your furniture. Consider how the furniture looks in the grand design and try to section off noisy areas away from the main entrance, so the conversation volume doesn’t become off-putting to newly arriving guests.


Lobby design is changing and evolving much more than in previous years and is essential to attract and maintain an adequate customer base. Today’s lobby must consider the look, feel, design flow, and zoning of multiple areas and account for their particular uses. There should be much consideration of the uses the lobby serves and the flow of traffic it has daily. Additionally, appealing to your specific target clientele is essential when designing the lobby area. Take time to gather information about the size and space you plan to design and the amount of traffic you anticipate. Don’t forget to consider the budget and practicality of the interior furnishings and design materials. Everything needs to flow and appeal to all the senses in the hotel lobby design to get the best results for the budget.