What makes a perfect ‘work from hotel’ space?

Creating the ideal workspace shouldn’t be rocket science, yet it seems to be a puzzle few hotel brands can solve.

By Chris Ashton, October 10 2023
What makes a perfect ‘work from hotel’ space?

Executive Traveller readers are no strangers to having their hotel room do double-duty as a temporary office while on the road, and will have no doubt noticed a clear and rather unfortunate trend over the past years, if not decades.

Hotels which used to pride themselves on being a second home for busy execs are removing those big desks.

Makeovers, refreshes and new-build hotels, especially those slotting into a ‘lifestyle’ market position or chasing the thriving ‘bleisure’ trend, are often replacing the conventional desk with a low coffee table or simply no table at all.

This largely reflects changes in the broader world. Gone is that niche of businessmen and women carting around clunky inch-thick notebooks which couldn’t spend more than a few hours from an AC power socket.

Today, slim lightweight laptops with all-day battery life and readily-available WiFi mean you can work from anywhere (rather than be tethered to your hotel room-office), while more casual travellers simply need a smartphone or tablet to stay connected on the go.

Office with a view: Next Hotel Melbourne cleverly places a proper desk up against a window nook.
Office with a view: Next Hotel Melbourne cleverly places a proper desk up against a window nook.

As the designers of hotel rooms edge away from traditional work-friendly spaces, dedicated executive or club lounges only increase in their importance – again, something to which any Executive Traveller can attest.

However, some hotels are thinking outside the box when it comes to making life easier for business travellers.

Under Hyatt Hotels’ ‘office for the day’ program selected properties offer “a private guestroom with all the conveniences of an office, plus the comforts and amenities of a premium hotel experience” such as breakfast and a gym workout.

Vali Byron Bay, which we visited not too long ago, has cleverly converted a single room into a five desk co-working space – and these types of spaces are something we expect to see more of in future, playing into the broader trend established by the likes of WeWork.

The Vali co-work space has high-speed wifi, a fridge and balcony for coffee breaks.
The Vali co-work space has high-speed wifi, a fridge and balcony for coffee breaks.

Meanwhile, in key destinations across Asia Pacific, Shangri-La Hotels is rolling out bespoke ‘Business Rooms’ with adjustable standing desks, ergonomic chairs and even a Zoom-friendly 27-inch monitor with 4K webcam and speakerphone.

Other creature comforts include a supplied Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse plus a smartphone fast-charging stand. 

These are already now under the separate Business Room category at the Shangri-La Singapore and Kuala Lumpur; Bangkok, Sydney and the group’s two hotels in Hong Kong will receive their own ‘business class’ upgrades by year’s end.

And yes, these rooms will be priced at a premium: as an example, a mid-November booking of a Business Room at Shangri-La Singapore starts at AUD$934 for non-members, versus AUD$834 for the standard Horizon Club Deluxe room on which the Business Room is based.

A Shangri-La spokesperson tells Executive Traveller the furniture and electronics will eventually be able to added to other room types as well for a small fee. 

The Shangri-La setup includes an adjustable height 'Omnidesk', monitor, and wireless mouse and keyboard.
The Shangri-La setup includes an adjustable height 'Omnidesk', monitor, and wireless mouse and keyboard.

All of which made us wonder: what do you look for in a work-friendly hotel? And have you found anywhere that ticks all those boxes?

We’ve put our wishlist together in the past, but we’re keen to know your thoughts: share your take with other Executive Traveller readers in the comments area below.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 111

Minimum requirement for in-room working: power plugs above the desk, not under it, and fast, always-functioning wifi. I can't see co-working space pictured above working out, because (1) you can't slop around in casual clothes (or slippers and dressing gown) in a public place like this, (2) no plugs above the desks - it's not up to the hotel to decide that my laptop is always fully charged, (3) distracting noise. If my experience of the business area of airport lounges is anything to go by, there's always at least one person who sees nothing wrong with talking really loudly on the phone. As for the photo at the top of this article, the woman in four-inch heels standing at her room desk - please! Who thinks up these photos? No sane woman is going to leave her four-inch heels on in her own room, let alone stand at length at a desk (she might need the business suit for a Zoom meeting, but nobody can see her feet). Absent a Zoom meeting, she's more likely to be wearing dressing gown and slippers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jun 2015

Total posts 71

Same as the above, multiple power outlets that are easy to access and fast reliable wifi are by far the most important. From the lead photo in the article i recently stayed in a tower wing room at the singapore shangri-la and they already have a good working space without the standup desk in the same location. For me a dedicated desk is a must rather than alot of hotels going for a shelf or below a tv sharing with coffee stuff etc. Recently stayed at the Marriott docklands in melbourne and was surprised the spot to put your laptop is a round detached table with power at floor level behind a curtain. seemed so strange as it seems to be a business focused hotel with alot of its other ammenities and location. 

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 111

I forgot to add that a proper adjustable office chair is also a must. I've been to countless hotels where the chair is just too low. Do they buy them to suit men? I'm female, but not short at 169cm, but most chairs are too low. The last hotel I stayed at, in Vienna - a modern building - the chair was so low that I had to use my bed pillow to sit on. (And there was only one desk plug, shared with the kettle. The other room plug was next to the door, 15cm above the floor, intended for the vacuum cleaner.)

I agree with blingwad about proper desks. More than one Meriton Suites hotel I've stayed at also had just a round meals table with the power point at floor level behind it - and that's in complete suites, where there's plenty of room for a dedicated desk.

Eli
Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 106

I require a desk, preferably facing a window and not a wall.  A proper adjustable desk chair.   Strong wifi with the modem in the room, so I can shut it off at night for better sleep.

A TV that I can sync a phone/laptop or tablet to mirror or watch my own content on.  Since many hotels have older flatscreens without this function, hotels should make the HDMI input accessible to the guest, since some of us carry a HDMI cable.  Years ago I learned that 15ft cables are the best. 

Otherwise, I have requested hotels all over the world send someone up to unmount the tv so I can plug in my HDMI.   This request has never been refused.

Basically, if I need something, I request it.  Sometimes they just bring the item from another room.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 89

Home....!!!

What is the 'thing' with fast internet?  We use 5G from our phones and an authenticator app to ensure all comms are secure.  Yes, this is great in AUS and some other areas of the world, but really crappy for parts of the EU, UK and Ireland (R).  However, security should trump speed, and great if you can get both.


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