The rise and rise of tourism beige

By | Category: Travel rumblings


I stay in any number of hotels in a year. In most I wouldn’t know which city I was in because the rooms are alike. The bathrooms are the same, the furniture is the same, the bed linen doesn’t alter and the televisions all welcome me by name.

Once inside a room I could be in any Ibis, any Travelodge, any Premier Inn or any Holiday Inn. Hiltons, Sheratons, Novotels or Radissons are much the same. Even when I stay in independent hotels, the company they use to supply the linen seems to be the same that supplies others. Even some of the lodges have become similar.

The tourism world is becoming more beige by the minute.

Just as estate agents tell prospective sellers of their houses that beige and bland versions of white or cream are what they need to paint their hoses so that they sell and that distinctive purples, blues and reds inhibit a sale so hotels seem to have followed the same route. Sometimes I think even the same prints appear on their walls!

How many mainstream hotel chains have individuality? They reduce their costs by buying in bulk so paint, chairs, bed-linen, toiletries are all purchased in huge numbers to achieve discounts and then they are distributed in all their outlets.

a fairly standard looking hotel room. Which hotel is it?

There is a hotel in Berlin, the Nhow Berlin, where the rooms either have a blue or red decor . The bed-linen and furnishers follow the same theme. It is one of the few chain hotels in which I have stayed where I knew where I was. Other NH hotels follow the blandness.

I have probably stayed in six different Ibis hotels in the last two years. They are all the same be they in Leeds or at London City Airport. The same applies to Travelodge. That in east London is like the ones I stayed at in Redhill and Leatherhead. The Premier Inn in Docklands is like the one in Newton Aycliffe and I wouldn’t recognise the Hilton just outside Edinburgh Airport from the ones in Bath, Manchester or Warwick.

My criticism isn’t just levied at hotels.

Many package holiday destinations look the same. From the first time I stayed in Surfers Paradise in the Australian state of Queensland decades ago, many resorts look the same from the skyline. Torremelinos, Benidorm and Cancun have tall high rise functional apartment or hotel blocks as do other places. They look the same to my jaundiced eye and the architectural differences that a creator like Frank Lloyd Wight and Zaha Hadid might bring to a building are not evident in most package holiday destination buildings. Having said that you can recognise a Frank Gehry building be it in Bilbao or New York so even some museums are similar!

The holidays are similar too. Go to Las Vegas and many hotels are fantastically designed on the outside. Inside the rooms are similar and just as the insides are in Orlando. But go to the lower floors where the blackjack games are held and the various machines operate and you wouldn’t know which hotel you were in – they all seem the same and with no natural light you wouldn’t even know ehether it was day or night. More blandness!

hotel room

And this hotel room decor shows no individuality

Pick a cruise around the Mediterranean and most of the ports are the same that the ships visit. The holiday offers are only made different by the unique nature of the ship itself. Did I say unique nature? A mistake because  below decks many seem similar. They all have similar entertainment, they all have similar sized cabins, the cabins are similar in decor and you rely on customer service to differentiate them. Once one cruise lines introduces something so it is copied.

Buy a package holiday to Benidorm  from TUI and it could be much the same as one from Thomas Cook or Cosmos. A holiday in an apartment block in Tenerife is not disimilar from one in Paphos in Cyprus or Mallorca.

These days to get some individuality, some colour into your holiday you need to go to one of the specialists and even then you may not be successful.  Could this be why I have “packaged” my own holidays over the last decade or more?


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