An online survey of 1,323 travellers, conducted by Trip Advisor for USA TODAY, found that 31% often have a problem with noise during a hotel stay.


Noise was also found as the top complaint (ahead of room cleanliness) in the annual North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Survey of 47,634 travellers.

There are various possible sources of noise in hotel rooms.  These include noise and vibrations from nightclubs and bars within the hotel; noise from nearby restaurants; noise from guests in adjacent rooms such as excessive snoring and overly loud televisions; noise disturbances and footsteps in corridors; external noise from roads, rail and traffic outside the hotel; and air-conditioning noise and vibration.

Figure 1: Interior design acoustic modelling

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs

Acoustic consultants are often called in to newly opened hotels where the nightclub is located immediately below guestrooms, and the hotel manager has an entire wing that he either can’t book guests into or he is inclined to offer a discount to appease complainants.

Situations like this can be avoided if mindful space planning was considered at the start of the design stage. It is essential to find appropriate locations for nightclubs, gymnasiums, restaurants, spas, plantrooms and function rooms. If the sources of noise are placed in suitable locations, not only is the impact they have on guestrooms significantly reduced, but cost savings can also be achieved as expensive afterthought remedial treatments will not be required.

Corridors and adjacent rooms

Several elements can have a significant impact on the guest experience when considered alongside the interior design specification. These include the wall, floor and door constructions as well as detailing between two guestrooms, and between guestrooms and corridors.

Where these elements are appropriately specified and with due consideration to the operator brand standards, guest disturbance from snoring in an adjacent room or late night revellers returning home will be significantly reduced. Careful consideration of these elements can also help identify areas of over design which, when corrected, may result in cost savings on building materials and space savings due to thinner, more acoustically effective partitions.

External noise

External noise is another common complaint that can be easily resolved through acoustic coordination with the façade engineer and other project consultants during the design stage.

If a baseline noise survey is undertaken at the development site prior to groundworks commencing then the results can be used along with acoustic modelling to determine the sound insulation performance requirements of the façade. This can also ensure that guests are not woken up every time a plane flies overhead or a late night car drives past the window.

Figure 2: Façade acoustic modelling

Figure 3: Noise monitoring

Air-conditioning noise and vibration

A common complaint from guests relates not only to whether their room is too hot or too cold but also to whether they can hear the air conditioning unit located above the ceiling. This can also be easily resolved through careful design, ensuring that the correct fan sizes are specified and the air speed is sufficiently controlled within the duct and at the grille.

For all of the issues that lead to noise complaints the final piece of the jigsaw is to make sure that the design is followed and implemented by the contractor once works commence on site. 

In this respect it is essential that the acoustic consultant is appointed to review material submittals, undertake periodic site inspections and witness acoustic testing prior to handover. This requirement will ensure that critical design elements are both detailed and installed correctly and will prevent costly remedial works and program delays later in the development. 

All major hotel operators have noise and vibration criteria in their design standards for each of these elements which must be satisfied by the design and final build.

As part of a multi-disciplinary design team our 150 strong acoustics team across the globe work closely with our colleagues throughout the business to consider all acoustic aspects of hotel and tall building designs. Our acoustic experts identify gaps in these standards and offer value engineering suggestions which can add significant value to the design.

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