How to Make Your Hotel Room Feel Like Home

When half of your life is spent abroad, it can be a challenge to feel at home in ever-changing surroundings. We asked designer and hospitality expert J Lee Rofkind for six tips on how to make the most of any hotel room.

Our Expert: J Lee Rofkind is an international authority in hospitality design, with properties like the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, Hyatt Place London Heathrow/Hayes and Sheraton Shenzhou Peninsula Resort to her name.

1. Adjust the lighting

“Lighting is key to ambience,” says Rofkind. And ambience is the first thing that can help you feel more comfortable in a space. The designer suggests turning off downlights and ceiling lights, and trying various combinations of desk, table and floor lamps until you’ve hit the level that feels just right. Instant relaxation guaranteed.

2. Bring in some blooms

“If I’m in a hotel room for more than a couple of nights, I like to pick up fresh-cut flowers,” says Rofkind. Not only are they beautiful, but they also add fragrance – a key element that signals to your brain that it’s time to relax. Go for a highly scented bloom that you associate with good memories (think roses, peonies and lilies) to better tap into your happy place whenever you’re in the room.

3. BYOAccents

Scarves, shawls and wraps are a must for well-prepared travellers, especially in the colder months. To add a personal touch to your hotel room’s decor, use them as throws and accents. Pro tip: Go for natural textiles like silk and cashmere – they adapt to your body temperature, making them ideal for any season.

4. Unpack fully

“I don’t unpack for one-night trips, but for longer stays, unpacking gives me a better sense of ownership and organization.” Use your first bit of downtime to prep for the rest of your trip. Iron all your clothes at once to make sure you’re ready to go for the following days, and put your luggage away. (If the closet isn’t big enough to hold your empty bag, the concierge will gladly store it until departure time.)

5. Picture your loved ones

“With smartphones, no one carries framed photos of loved ones anymore. But if you’re a softy, a small framed photo will add a homey touch,” says Rofkind. A physical object can lend significance and emotional weight to an experience (somewhat like reading a book rather than consuming content online). Consider it a talisman.

6. Play it out loud

Hearing the opening notes of a song from your childhood can bring you back to the first time you heard it. Take advantage of that phenomenon by playing your soundtrack of choice out loud in your room instead of using your headphones. “Most good hotel rooms now have great sound systems, so hook up your favourite playlist to the TV or sound system and you’ll have a much better stay,” promises the designer. It will envelop the room with your personal vibe, and that’s the key to feeling at home.