In a hotel or resort, the lobby makes the single greatest impact on the guest experience. Its design sets the tone for the entire hotel. Larger hotels such as convention hotels require a greater amount of lobby space to accommodate the number of guests and visitors. Los and mid-price hotels require relatively little lobby space. Most hotels provide between 6 to 10 square feet of floor area per guestroom in the lobby, not including circulation to remote functions. Convention and large hotels require 10 to 15 square feet per room.

In addition to establishing the image of the hotel, the lobby serves as the main circulation space, food, beverage, and retail outlets, as well as work, meeting, and conversation space. It also functions as a security checkpoint where staff visually supervises access to the building. The lobby typically has direct access to the executive offices as well.

The lobby has several main functional elements. The front desk should have individual workstations each about 5 to 6 feet long. About two stations are needed for the first 150 guestrooms and one more for each additional 100 rooms. Sufficient queuing space in front of the front desk for guests to line up is needed. For convention hotels, at least 20 feet is needed in front of the front desk. A bellman station near the front desk and main entrance with an adjacent lockable luggage storage area with direct access to the curb is another key element. Lastly, a seating area or areas is needed for guests to wait or converse in. Often, at least one restaurant-bar is located in or off the main lobby. Today, fitness centers and spas are also often front and center. Another popular trend is expanding the lounge area and designing it in a way that compels people to linger in it to commune with others.

Guest circulation from the entrance to the front desk to the elevators that lead to the guestrooms must be convenient and logical. Larger hotels may need multiple entrances to help separate overnight guests from visitors in order to reduce traffic through the lobby. Separate entries may be needed for the ballroom/banquet areas, restaurants/bars/casinos, spa/fitness center, and condominium area if the hotel includes a residential component.

The design of the public spaces in a hotel varies dependent upon the hotel’s target customer. As with most projects, balancing visual impact and function are key. The look and feel of a lobby is just as important as the functional elements. A market study often determines the target customer when a hotel is first built or remodeled, and a thorough understanding of the target customer should drive the design decisions.