Home Away From Home: Becoming a Hotel Interior Designer

by | Jul 11, 2019

There’s something so magical about walking into a hotel for the first time.

It’s like stepping into a dream world; there’s so much potential. Every person who walks through that revolving glass door has a story to tell. There’s a reason they’re here, in this moment. I love imagining where they came from and where they’re going next.

This is what inspires me every day in the work I do as an interior designer for hotels. I want to transcend the hotel experience for consumers. And it has taken me decades of experience to get to this point. 

hotel interior designer

 Before I started designing for hotel spaces I spent many years working for them.

Thanks to this experience, I’m very familiar with the regulations and brand standards enforced by the corporate office. Those manuals are thick, and they hold a lot of valuable information.

But when it comes to running a business, you can’t always go strictly by the book.

As a business owner myself, I can relate to the obstacles the hotel owner and management team face—especially when it comes to implementing a design change across the space. I like to think of myself as the interpreter between what the brand wants and what the owner can afford. It’s always an interesting position to be in. 

Of course, a little creative license can go a long way when it comes to commercial interior design.

I love having room to showcase my artistic side.

My fascination with making beautiful spaces began when I was a young girl designing furniture for my Barbies. I was constantly redecorating my room and moving furniture around. After buying my first apartment, I spent my Saturday evenings shopping for wallpaper and throw pillows.

When I officially launched my own business, my focus was on residential design. I love creating beautiful spaces for other people. It’s so fulfilling to know I played a part in helping them design their own haven—a space where they feel their best.

Now, with decades of education and experience under my belt, I am taking my skillsets down an avenue where I know I can impact the most people: the hotel industry.

Of course, commercial and residential design are two completely different beasts.

 The scale in the commercial space is vast. A home features one kitchen and a few bedrooms—whereas a hotel includes a lobby and over 100 guest-rooms. There are residential-grade products and commercial-grade products, and you need to know the difference.


Safety is a top priority—this means you have to be familiar with city codes, fire ratings, accessibility standards and more. Functionality is also important. There are a lot of stakeholders involved, and it’s essential that we communicate with all of them when choosing the most efficient and effective design for a hotel space.

hotel interior designer

If my experience working in the hospitality industry has taught me anything, it’s to think like a consumer. This means working closely with housekeeping and maintenance departments to ensure the design meets their goals for cleanliness and durability. In order to make the best first impression with a guest when they walk into a room, it can’t just be clean—it has to sparkle.

hotel interior designer

 At the end of the day, it’s the human element that inspires me to do what I do.

 Design isn’t just about the aesthetic; it’s about the personal experience.

People travel and stay in hotels because it makes them feel good. And I take responsibility for ensuring they have a positive experience. To know I played a role in making their dreams come true—that’s the epitome of why I do what I do.

If you’re interested in finding out how we can work together, I’d love to hear from you.

Now tell me: what’s your favourite part about the hotel experience? Is it the glitz and glamour of the hotel lobby? Crisp, clean sheets and the softest mattress to collapse into? Breakfast in bed? Let me know in the comments!

LESLEY WONG, Principal Designer

Lesley is committed to continuously keeping up with ever-changing trends and technology. But as every decorator knows, there’s no greater opportunity for learning than on-the-job experience. Lesley has worked in hospitality, commercial and residential projects and enjoys crafting customized and beautiful environments for her clients.

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