For a while, it seemed as though the unthinkable could happen: The front desk, that definitive centerpiece of a hotel lobby, might disappear and be replaced with open pods or kiosks or even staff wandering around armed with tablets for checking guests in. But in spite of some lofty experiments, the front desk has survived the upheaval, albeit with some modifications. Notably, designers and hoteliers alike agreed that hotel lobbies are becoming more like residential living rooms, and front desks are adjusting to suit new tastes.
“People feel like guests, and hotels like the sense of greeting you with a front-desk experience,” said Kara Smith, president of SFA Design. Designer Lauren Rottet agreed, suggesting that the check-in pods looked even more formal in some ways than the traditional desks. Instead, she said, designers are opting for a less “imposing” desk that creates a comfortable vibe. Some desks are accessible from both the front and the back, Rottet said, allowing guests to approach it from either side. Others, in order to convey a “homey” vibe, might allow bookshelves or even refrigerators to be visible from the check-in area. “We’re making it more of a hospitality stand,” Rottet said.
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