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17 September 2008

Ask MeCha. Why is it that hotels so seldom have lights in the ceiling? Light always seems to be provided by lamps on tables or mounted to walls. Why?
Ugh. Looks like I missed a previous AskMe on this.
posted by grouse 17 September | 19:32
Yes, and in the post that refers to SDMB, Post 19 (see the link in the AskMe), it says

"Furthermore, the current trend is to increase the level of "customization" available to the guest by equipping the lamps with longer power cords, making it possible to place lamps just about anywhere in the room. In our hotel, the lamps are fitted with 25-foot cords. Same thing with the telephone - a longer cord allows a guest to move around the room while talking on the phone, just like they would be able to do at home."

The first part of the answer made sense, but this part makes no sense whatsoever. I am currently living out of a hotel room, and it EXACTLY the same as the one I stayed in 3 months ago at the same hotel. All the rooms have the same furniture with the same lamps in the same locations, and even the lamps that have longer cords have the cords bundled up and tied with nylon tie straps to prevent this "customization."

Since this part of the answer is complete and utter BS it pretty much discredits the first part of the answer for me.
posted by Doohickie 17 September | 19:48
Since this part of the answer is complete and utter BS it pretty much discredits the first part of the answer for me.

Settle down, Doohickie--the trend will get there eventually. If every hotel room was already upgraded, it wouldn't be a "trend". It'd just be the status quo.

I've noticed improvements at a few hotels. Longer lamp cords, more electrical outlets (near the desk, pls!) and sometimes even foot switches for floor lamps. But hardly ever in-ceiling lighting.

But the coolest thing I've seen in a hotel lately was at the New York Palace. On the nightstand and the desk there is a console that operates all the lamps in the room. And, if that wasn't enough, there was also a button that toggled the "Do Not Disturb" light mounted next to the door. And by the looks of the thing, it must've been there since the 80s.
posted by mullacc 17 September | 20:19
Also, about every other hotel I go to has a cordless phone.
posted by mullacc 17 September | 20:23
I was going to guess the "living room" thing was why they don't have overhead lights. I don't know why living rooms DON'T have overhead lights, but there you go. The only exception I've seen is in very old houses that were wired for electricity well after they were built... I had a couple of friends and elderly relatives of friends, when I was growing up, who lived in old houses where they'd put a ceiling light in the living room when the house was wired. It always looked odd to me, just because I wasn't used to seeing it.
posted by BoringPostcards 17 September | 21:05
BP, most houses built before electricity will have ceiling lights in the living room. It's because odds are there was a gas or candle fixture in the same spot before- since neither would have provided enough light to use table and wall fixtures alone.
Even now if you go into an old house you'll very often see a round ornamental plaster design on the living room ceiling that used to frame the old fixture.

I think 90% of the people who had their gaslights replaced with electric just had fixtures put in place of all the old ones. I've only ever seen one building where the old gaslights were still in place that also had turn of the century electric fixtures.
posted by kellydamnit 17 September | 21:51
I'm far more convinced by the efficiency explanations: the poured concrete floors and ceilings that don't easily admit wiring, and the greater ease of changing bulbs or entire lamps as opposed to getting a stepladder, unscrewing the shade on a ceiling fixture, changing the bulb, replacing the shade, and putting the stepladder away on the few minutes you have per room.

I love the console idea. I have no problem with the task lighting you usually get in hotel rooms, as long as you can figure out how to turn them on and off. So often it's a total mystery. And then even when you do find the switches, sometimes it turns out that you also have to flip a wall switch that activates a socket. When it's midnight and you've just gotten in from a day in steerage on one of America's fine air carriers, no one's brain is up for the sort of logic-problem brainteaser that getting the lights turned on usually involves.
posted by Miko 17 September | 22:03
Huh. I always assumed it was because overhead lighting was less flattering, to the room and you.
posted by birdie 17 September | 22:39
Don't tell me to settle down. I'M NOT EXCITED!
posted by Doohickie 17 September | 22:56
Simmer down now.
posted by mullacc 17 September | 23:18
The Hotel Nikko in Mexico City and LA (It is an intercontinental now I think) had the cool little consoles by the bed that had clocks and the thermostat for the AC. I've stayed at a few places with the Do Not Disturb sign either as a switch by the bed, or the light switch by the door. I love the ability to turn off the lights from across the room since I will sometimes not notice one if on until I'm already in bed.

The housekeeping staff tend to be shorter so it is easier to change out lightbulbs in lamps when they are cleaning the rooms as opposed to needing to call "engineering" to come in and take care of it. And since hotels like to use 1 watt bulbs you want the lamp close to you so you can see.

The trend I've seen in the last few places I've stayed is the LCD TVs. The have the nice 16:9 LCD flat screen but still use the same old shitty analog lineup of channels. Some channels have ghosting or some sort of RF interference. Except the PPV movie channels which come in crystal clear. And the movie titles are not printed on the bill.

I love the hotels that offer tons of channels... especially those that cater to international guests. Being able to watch the news from Germany, BBC World Service (not the crappy BBC America), Al Jazeera, and others is great.

Oh, and what the fuck is up with the hotel TV sets having to go to the movie preview channel and cranking up the volume of the TV full blast so every time you turn on the TV you get to "Welcome to the blah blah blah Hotel!!!" I just want to have the damn TV be like the one at home that keeps the volume and channel on what I was watching when I turned it off.

[and Doohickie, the flexibility isn't for you. It is for when the hotel wants to rehab rooms, they don't have to spend a lot of money rewiring the rooms. A place I stay a lot remodeled and moved the beds from one wall to another as they put the new comforters and LCD TV and other upgrades. Had the room had lamps on the ceiling. They wouldn't have the flexibility to do that. They also want the flexibility to change between a room with one bed versus two as their clientele or other market factors change. They won't want to have too much variety within the same property so as to keep housekeeping and engineering efficient. Only in the smaller non-chain hotels will you see variety... or chain hotels in really old buildings like the W Hotel on Lexington in NYC had several odd shaped rooms so there was no way to be cookie cutter like the W at Times Square.

In the hotel I worked in, we had 3500 rooms and about 3000 of them were identical so it you don't have to spend serious money making repairs -- you can get a hell of a deal on the cheap nightstands when you buy so many. The only time you'd see a completely rehab'd room before the planned overhaul of the whole building was when a guest did so much damage (a particularly gruesome death, a small fire, and other terribly unpleasant events) that everything had to be replaced and it was easier to go with the new interior than the aging one]
posted by birdherder 18 September | 08:59
I stayed at the Hotel Renew in Waikiki on my honeymoon - they had these cool light consoles by the bed and by the door that could control all the lighting - it had three settings, "Bright", "Dark," and "Mood". :)
posted by muddgirl 18 September | 09:31
Funnily enough I just watched two films that had women throwing a veil or light wrap over a lamp to create instant "Mood".

(The two very different films were "Iris", with Kate Winslet as a young and horny Iris Murdoch, and "Topkapi", with Melina Mercouri as a femme fatale ... and Maximilian Schell as an homme fatale).
posted by dhartung 18 September | 11:28
The trend I've seen in the last few places I've stayed is the LCD TVs. The have the nice 16:9 LCD flat screen but still use the same old shitty analog lineup of channels. Some channels have ghosting or some sort of RF interference. Except the PPV movie channels which come in crystal clear.
Yeah, I've seen this too. The worst of this is that they invariably use super cheap LCD TVs and the picture quality is crap, plus they put them so high up on the wall (because then they don't take up any space), that you can only watch the screen when lying in bed.

I think the reason the lights would be in the walls is because of poured concrete floors/ceilings, although I don't see this at hotels in Australia - they generally have a ceiling cavity (and ceiling lights). Maybe it's just a cultural thing? A couple of comments up further indicate that it's unusual for lights in living areas to be in the ceiling, so maybe that just carries over to hotel builders? Houses in Australia generally have all the lighting in the ceilings.
posted by dg 18 September | 15:18
I think we're done here. || THIS IS A WORK-RELATED SHOUTING THREAD...