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Why Are Hotel Carpets So Ugly?

March 18, 2009 at 3:20 PM | by | ()

Fugly carpet found at Paris' Four Seasons George V.

We'll admit it: we rag on ugly hotel carpeting with a fair bit of frequency. But in an honest effort to embrace our softer sides, we will attempt to do what our mothers always taught us to do before mocking something: we'll make an attempt to understand it. And we'll be starting with the fuzziest victim of our sometimes-vicious scrutiny; a hotel design element we tend to walk all over frequently (ha! See what we did there?)

So, we ask because we want to understand: why is hotel carpeting so ugly?

We've heard a few theories in our time; we've gotten some explanations from hotel designers, some from our classes at hospitality school, and some from the cavernous depths of the myth-busting interwebs. Hotel carpeting is so ugly because....

· It hides stains. Bright, loud patterns and dark colors hide dirt, damage and wear-and-tear. Rarely will you ever see a white or beige hotel carpet; it's simply impractical and too difficult to keep clean. And no matter how spotless a floor might be, a single stain underfoot may easily make an entire space feel dirty and old. Fug carpeting, we're sorry to say, hides the stains and scuffs and dirt that the housekeeping staff cannot take care of during standard room cleanings.

· It encourages gambling in casinos. The nastiest, fugliest of carpets can often be found on casino floors. As the Museum of Hoaxes points out, some say there's a reason for it:

The carpets have subliminal themes and messages in them that encourage gambling. [David Schwartz, a historian of gambling] writes, "Many of the carpets use flowers and wheels, both suggestive of a cyclical life: flowers bud, bloom, and then die, and their beauty is only ephemeral. The wheel was famous to the Romans (note its prominence at Caesars Palace) as a symbol of the relentless capriciousness of fortune. Could both be subtle reminders to casino patrons that life and luck are fleeting, and one should eat, drink, and be merry before the morrow brings a swing in fortune?"

· It creates visual interest in hallways and corridors. There's not much going on in the hallways in the guestroom corridors; something's gotta excite the eye and keep things interesting. Apparently, that "something" is often carpeting like this.

But we know there are more reasons why this, this and this sort of thing happens — surely the entire hotel industry cannot possibly be suffering from a disorder that causes bad taste. Surely the line between opulence and unsightliness is not that difficult to navigate, right? What are some other practical purposes for the bright, busy, crazy patterns and colors on hotel floors? Chime in. Help us understand.

Archived Comments:

I blame...

Steve Wynn.

It creates visual interest in hallways and corrido

I agree with that.  I stayed at the Westin Waterfront in Boston last year, whose corridors are paved with olive-drab carpeting.  It was very dreary.  As much as I hate fugly carpeting, and my condo building has it, as well, it definitely serves to keep the stroller going as they walk down long, otherwise visually uninteresting hallways.

its an homage to the fiesta print from apple2gs

i kind of love how wacky and un matchy matchy they can be. like, who has the design job to mix those patterns? i want to get drinks with him or her. (i imagine its a him - like someone kicked off early from project runway or top design.)

Ugly Hotel Carpets

The reason there is so much ugly carpet in hotels is that carpet is the biggest impact, most challenging, and complex product that interior designers have to work with on any hotel project, and it is easy to get wrong. Most of the top hotel designers in the U.S. collaborate with Esther Dunbar, who has been the industries foremost expert for decades.

Not all hotel carpets are ugly...

The newer hotels have started to use brighter and less patterned carpets on their rooms and corridors but the older hotels still keep those, let's call them, less beautiful carpets. While working at the carpet cleaning Maryland I've came across some of them and actually asked why they still used them. One reason was that that the hotels were designed over 80 years ago and the carpets are representative of the fashion of those times. Because they don't want an entire redecorating process, they prefer keeping that retro look.