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The Five Ugliest Types of Hotel Lobby Christmas Decorations

December 5, 2008 at 10:51 AM | by | Comments (5)

You've seen it: you walk into the lobby of your upscale, elegant hotel — marble floors, stunning finishes, grand piano on display — and you can't quite appreciate its beauty because the place is covered with over-the-top holiday decor.

We're all about getting into the holiday spirit with, say, some tasteful garland, a couple poinsettias and a beautiful sparkling tree, but when it comes to festive decorations, we're firm believers in less is more.

So, guests, hoteliers, hotel managers and interior designers: follow along with us as we outline the Five Ugliest Types of Hotel Lobby Christmas Decorations ... and take notes.

1. Faux Snow

Nothing says "suburban mall Santa" like fake snow on or near the Christmas tree. This doesn't look good at the mall, and it doesn't belong anywhere near a beautiful lobby floor. Like fake cobwebs around Halloween, the gauzey whiteness just looks tacky against the shiny luxe materials used in a hotel. Behold the San Diego US Grant Hotel's lobby back in 2004 to see what we mean.
[Photo: Jim Epler]

2. Tinsel

We're fans of tinsel at slammin' New Year's Eve parties and perhaps hanging behind the stage at our favorite karaoke bar — but, as a general rule, let's all just agree that tinsel is only appropriate in venues that serve two-for-one beers.
[Photo: Dazed81]

3. Poinsettia Forests

With poinsettias (and every other decoration we're mentioning here), less is oh-so-much more. Also, we read somewhere that those particular plants contain a latex protein, and guests who have a latex allergy can have a bad reaction just by going near 'em.
[Photo: Lake Atitlan]

4. Scent Fakeout

We love walking into a room and being greeted by the sweet scents of the season — warm apple cider, gingerbread, cinnamon, cookies. Do you know what we hate? When there are no mugs of cider or any gingerbread or cinnamony cookies around. Please don't so that to us. If you've got the aroma, deliver the goods.
[Photo: SMN]

5. Flashing Lights and Moving Parts

When a light in a hotel's hallway is flickering on and off, someone fixes it, right? Why would someone want to intentionally re-create the look of a busted bulb by using flashing Christmas lights in a lobby? It drives staffers nutty, and there are enough flashing lights outside (and in 'da club) to satisfy us — and don't even get us started on the chaotic feel created in a hotel lobby when there are trains zipping around (like this one in the Charleston Place) and plastic Santa figures waving. Lobbies are bustling and lively enough without them.

[Photo: Michelle Lyles]

As usual, we've voiced our opinion quite loudly — but what do you think? What are the worst decorations you've seen in perfectly lovely upscale hotel lobbies? We know you've got something to say — light up the comments.

Comments (5)

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More is more

How about some lifesize Russian doll sets covered in spray tinsel? Nothing like the dichotomy of gratuitous decorations at a four/five star hotel.

um...i love your name

no vacancy cable tv.

i want to change mine now to "We have HBO."


seems like these are everywhere.

seems like there are very few hotels that don't skip right past classy and into klassy when it comes to christmas decor. i seem to remember the mount washington in new hampshire having something fairly understated, but just last week i was in a lobby in a hotel in virginia with a noisy, awful train and gallons of fake snow. yeesh!

um...thank you

You should change it then. Of course I suppose you have to be responsible editor and post with identity. In my experience, we have HBO means they have a half-wrinkled HBO guide on top of a 19" TV that gets HBO when the wind blows the right direction.

Something Else

I see that more and more designers have customers who prefer Asian home decorations. These kind of decoration will fit in a hotel room or lobby? Many think that they are bad tasted. However,the one with flashing lights and moving parts decoration is pretty stupid.

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