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  • GARY McCARTNEY

What Is Hospitality Design?

“Make yourself at home,” is a common expression of hospitality.

Hospitality is defined as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” The hospitality industry added the payment part but the rest stays the same.

The industry itself varies from neighbourhood cafes to fine dining and hotels.

The common factor is making people feel at home. But what does that really mean and how does it apply to the design of good hospitality environments?

The fact is that we’re all spending a lot more time at home now than we are used to - or even comfortable with. When we go out, whether to a fine dining restaurant or a fast food, we are now looking for an experience that isn’t home.

Except for one thing. We all feel safe at home and want to feel equally safe when we go out. But that hygiene factor aside, what we are looking for is something special that we can’t get at home.



Good hospitality design gives you something you can’t get at home. It recognises the need for multi-sensory environments and emotional connections. It’s not just about picking the right furniture and finishes, or about designing the perfect functional kitchen layout. That’s all part of it but to get it right you need to put yourself in the customer’s place and find out what’s their “feel-at-home” experience.


It starts with the senses. In a well-designed environment you’ll find something for all of them.


There is the visual presentation, incorporating the spatial design, the lighting, the finishes and how the food is presented. The seating will be appropriate to the customers and there may be different types of seating for different occasions and mindsets. Even the font used on the menu will be of the right legibility.


Everything you touch will feel good. (And you won’t have to touch anything you don’t want to.)


The choice and volume of music will be on point, and tailored to you the customer. And of course the food will smell and taste fantastic.


Then you’ll get the emotional overlay. The environment will feel clean and safe. The service and attention you receive will make you feel welcome and valued.


You’ll like the other customers around you- and they won’t be too close. You’ll spend just the right amount of time there. The bill will be within expectations and payment will be as painless as possible.


Everything will seem to have been created with you in mind. This is all true whether it’s a fast food restaurant or a fine dining establishment.

It’s definitely not where you live. But a place where you’ll definitely feel at home.

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