Travel & Culture

Suite Spot: What Elements Make A Great Hotel Room?

February 3, 2024

No longer just a place to lay down your head and freshen up between stops on a packed sightseeing schedule, hotels have become destinations in their own right. Lobbies double as art galleries, rooms grace the pages of décor magazines and travellers are increasingly looking to spend more time living the suite life. “In the past, people would want to see as much of the location as possible,” says Kelly Torrens, VP of product at Kensington Tours, a Toronto-based luxury tour operator. “Now, they’re asking for a little bit more time to enjoy the properties themselves.” Hotels around the world have nailed the recipe for a perfect stay, and these small luxuries prove that it’s all in the details. —Andréanne Dion

A Signature Scent

First impressions are everything, so it’s no wonder many upscale properties are investing in their own one-of-a-kind fragrance lines. Walk into any 1 Hotel location, from New York to London to Copenhagen, and you’ll be greeted by Kindling, an unmistakable blend of eucalyptus, cedar, oakwood, musk and moss. 

A memorable lobby scent not only helps foster a sense of familiarity for frequent travellers and returning guests, but also a sense of place. “I’m personally drawn to hotels that work with a local perfumery to create a signature scent for them, because it’s really connected to their local history and culture,” says Torrens. Her favourite is found at Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence, Italy, where notes of daffodil and lily of the valley evoke the Arno River, which runs through the city.

And with many spots selling their exclusive candles and room sprays, it’s easy to keep the vacation vibes going at home. Wymara Resort & Villas in Turks & Caicos recently launched an oil diffuser featuring its signature scent of bergamot and ginger lily, teak and musk that’s been flying off the shelves of the on-property boutique. “That scent reminds guests of their trip,” notes Shelley Rincon, the resort’s CEO.

Top-Notch Bathroom Amenities

Want to pack light? Booking a hotel with standout bathroom amenities is a great way to free up some space. From skin-friendly toiletries to high-performance hair tools, properties are betting on self-care to wow their guests. Many, like the Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, are turning to locally made suds and lotions to stock their vanities, while others opt for luxury names like Aēsop (Park Hyatt in Tokyo), Diptyque (The Ritz-Carlton) or Guerlain (Saint James in Paris). 

For Rincon, it was important to bring the ultra-popular Dyson Supersonic hair dryer—which retails for $580, plus sky-high import duties to the island—to Wymara. “Luxury hotels have always missed that mark on the hair dryer, it’s always just the most basic. I want our guests to have at least the same quality that they would have at home,” she explains. And to prevent theft, they were able to source an elegant solution: “We found these very small, very discreet brackets that are placed in the wall so the guests can barely see them, but still have a lot of freedom to use the hair dryer.” At QT Hotels & Resorts in Australia and New Zealand, Dyson Supersonic hair dryers and Corrale hair straighteners are on hand to ensure good hair days. 

In-Room Spa Treatments

With wellness getaways firmly in the spotlight, souped-up beauty treatments are high on travellers’ wish lists. To answer the demand, the Kimpton Saint George in Toronto has partnered up with local Yorkville studio Radford to offer visitors facials, hair, makeup and brow services in the comfort of their own room. “We really wanted to give guests that opportunity to hit the pause button, without having to travel somewhere to do that,” says Sean Muir, director of rooms at the hotel. For your spiritual care, book a 60-minute reiki and chakra healing session back at LaSalle Chicago, Autograph Collection; performed in your hotel room by a holistic healer, this in-depth step-by-step method aims to transform trauma and limits into abundance, freedom and love. Energy blocks are identified and released through Reiki and the seven chakras (energy centres) are opened, leaving you refreshed and ready to make the most of the rest of your stay.

The High Acre, a boutique inn in Dundas, Ontario, takes in-room wellness to a whole new level, offering infrared saunas and hammam steam rooms in each bathroom. For owner Brett van Sickle, a former National Ballet of Canada dancer, relaxation requires privacy. “It was something that didn’t exist yet in Canada. Everyone loves to go to spas, but no one loves the communal part of it,” he explains. In that spirit, Vakkaru Maldives’ upscale overwater bungalow features a private open-air spa with stunning views of the clear-blue water below.

Luxurious Bedding

If you’ve ever wondered what makes hotel beds so comfortable, the answer is simple: luxury properties spend a lot of time—and money—making sure guests get a good night’s sleep. Ever wanted to snooze like a celeb? The Lotte New York Palace has collaborated with Swedish brand Hästens’ on its Ultimate Sleep Suite, which features the brand’s famous $300,000 blue-checkered mattress that reportedly counts Drake and Beyoncé among its fanbase. Closer to home, Germain Hotels’ beds are proudly Canadian-made, with fluffy pillows, silky sheets and cloud-like mattresses that guests can’t get enough of. They sell their signature bedding line at Maison Simons and mattresses can be purchased from their supplier, Literie Laurier

Immersive Local Experiences

With travellers in search of off-the-beaten-path experiences, hotels and resorts are keen to showcase the unique appeal of their properties, notes Torrens. Located in the Swedish Lapland, Arctic Bath is a unique floating hotel that makes the most of its location by focusing on the health benefits of saunas and cold plunges. At the Fairmont Banff Springs, the wellness programming includes forest bathing, a nature walk with the hotel’s certified local guide that promotes reconnecting with nature through meditation and grounding activities. The sea turtle sanctuary at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri in Bali allows visitors to participate in the release of hatchlings, typically between May and September. At the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, which is set on Petite Anse Bay, guests can help with the property’s coral conservation efforts and rescue coral fragments under the guidance of marine educators.


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