Gartner Blog Network

Let there be light! – Why are business hotel rooms so dark

by Mark P. McDonald  |  April 15, 2009  |  6 Comments

This entry is a personal observation and pet peeve.  Why are hotel rooms at business hotels so dark and poorly lit?  I would think that hotel managers would look to make their rooms more attractive to business travelers who need to be more productive on the road.  However lately this does not seem to be the case. 

Over the last three months I have stayed in more hotels than I care to mention and in each I have found that rooms have taken one-step forward and two steps back.  The one step forward is the large screen HD TVs placed in refurbished rooms.  The picture is great and I travel so much that I actually delayed my purchase of a large screen HD TV at home because there is no need. 

The two steps backward are in how refurbished rooms have lost workspace and the lighting of that workspace is terrible.  Desks in hotel rooms now often hold the phone, an ineffective table lap, the coffee maker, cups and miscellaneous advertising placards enticing me to order a movie or go down to the sports bar.  Now when I need to work more than ever, I have less space and less light to work with.


Back during the dot com boom many hotel chains made big investments in their hotel rooms.  They created mini-workstations with full sized desks and I remember the Hyatt actually replicated a cube in the hotel room.  While we can debate the wisdom of extending the ‘cube’ experience into a hotel room, these spaces made me more productive.  The work area in these rooms was well lit with ready access to outlets and the Internet.  I guess all that good workspace cut down on people going to the bar or the restaurant.

Now I am faced with a dilemma work in my room that has about as much light as a medieval monks room, or stop working and just watch TV.  With the demands we all face today I find myself ruining my eyesight as I turn up the brightness of the computer screen and try to get more light on the computer and my notes.  I am sure that the cleaning staff is getting upset as well as they have to keep picking up the phone, coffeemaker and all of those placards off of the floor when I make room to do work.

I have thought about bringing my own light.  Either an LED light that connects to the USB port or a collapsible deck lamp could do the trick.  However, I have not tried that yet more out of concern of what the TSA will think when they see a desk lamp in my carry on luggage.  Don’t know if that makes me a safety risk or not.

What do you think?

Am I crazy trying to work in a hotel room while I am on the road?

Does this make me too much of a corporate tool, giving in to the man?

Are there others out there recognizing how hotel rooms have dimmed and how do we make our point?  Or,

Should I just sit back, flip on the TV and enjoy 70+ channels of ‘not much’ on the tube?

Category: fun  personal-observation  

Tags: personal-observation  working-on-the-road  

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program.

Thoughts on Let there be light! – Why are business hotel rooms so dark

  1. Erin White says:

    My own biggest pet peeve is that some hotels never underwent the renovations that you describe to make them more conducive to productive work time. Thus the internet connection can be found under the nightstand – I guess you’re supposed to laptop from bed – or else, the desk is placed precisely where the non-directable air conditioning unit is doing it’s best to turn you into a popcicle.

    We’re a picky lot, aren’t we? 😉

    Erin White

  2. Nick Jones says:

    That’s because you’re one of the old timers who still uses paper and so needs light. The rest of us do everything on a screen 🙂 If passive / reflective screens ever start to become popular then hotels will have to bring back decent room lighting.

  3. Mark McDonald says:

    Erin thanks for our comments. I too have pushed the bed around to get at the internet connection. I have even had to make a tradeoff between the TV or the PC when there were not enough plugs. Oh the pain of being a traveller.

  4. Mark McDonald says:

    Nick I agree that I am not becoming an old timer. But I thought that was a function of time not my use of paper. Even with a screen good lighting is important – now I really sound old.

    Glad to see that you see passive displays as being a force for good. I always knew you were a closet Kindle fan, even if your blog says otherwise — just kidding.

  5. Ian Rowlands says:

    Well … maybe the darkness makes it hard to checkout the cleanliness? Just kidding … or maybe not.
    I’ll confess, I am an old timer. I have manually wired phone to PC to make a dialup connection work. But my pet peeve now is that it’s hard to sit in bed, connect to the internet, connect to a powersource and watch the movie at the same time … I want a lapdesk, wireless connection, power, flatscreen HDTV, and I don’t wnat to pay a surcharge!

  6. Frankly saying, I am yet to notice such things about business hotels. This may be because so far I have been privileged with only the best. Yet I agree with your observation. Keeping in mind that hotel managers would look forward to make their rooms more attractive to business people to help them to be more productive, it is actually the other way around. Besides this there are more things which these business hotels need to tackle like bad room service or rather more serious issue, cleanliness.

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.