Lighting in hotels: the technical and aesthetic criteria to be assessed

By: Secom
15 de July, 2021
Reading time: 10 min

Regardless of the type or size of hotel, the lighting of the establishment is key in defining its style, environment and warmth. By having the lighting complement the interior design, it will create a welcoming atmosphere for all the guests.

This article addresses...


The first factors to consider

In hotels across the world, great care is taken with regards to the lighting and ambience created in both the public and private spaces for guests. In turn, the luminaires used should add to the sustainability and energy saving commitments of the hotels.  In short, the designs must provide answers to the necessary aesthetic criteria.

  • These projects seek a balance between technical and decorative lighting, where the latter complements the decorative style of the interior. In these internal spaces, warm atmospheres can be created by using a combination of direct, indirect and side lighting. This will ensure a comfortable, welcoming environment for guests.
  • The objective is to light the hotel in a manner that assures a functionality that can adapt to the different times of the day. This can be attained by digitally regulating the intensity of light in accordance with the schedule and activity of the hotel. For example, lobbies can be lit in a manner that invites guests to use the space recreationally in the evening, by subtly increasing the light intensity at dusk, while a dimmer light can be used during the day. The idea is to create sensory stimuli in these public spaces.
  • The colour of the lighting is also an important detail to note. Many hotels prefer the use of warmer, yellow tones over white lights, as these create cosier spaces.
  • The lighting designs also can enhance and focus attention on specific architectural details, materials, surfaces or other visual stimuli.
  • Good lighting enhances a hotel’s brand image and improves the customers’ experience during their stay.

Key aspects to efficient lighting

Lighting makes up, on average, between 25-50% of the total energy consumption of a hotel. This figure has made the hotel industry aware of the importance of finding better solutions that guarantee considerable energy savings and improve the efficiency of the lighting systems. These savings can be found in using more efficient luminaires in conjunction with control systems that automatically adjust the lighting needs of various spaces. Furthermore, hotels should utilise the natural light available and use LED technology, which continues to evolve and adapt to current market demands.

Although one of the main reasons for the use of LED technology has been its low energy consumption, today, its presence in hotel lighting projects is also linked to other factors. One aspect is that there is a wide range of tones available, from warm white lights to the yellow tones of incandescent lamps. Moreover, LED luminaires have the potential to be used for over 50,000 hours, which, in turn, makes it possible to design lighting systems with very low maintenance costs.


Interior hotel


The constant evolution of intelligent lighting systems has also made it possible to introduce innovative solutions in hotels, revolutionising the manner in which they light their establishments. Multi-sensors are capable of providing automatic controls that adapt in real time to the changes in room occupancy or to offer light on demand. For example, systems that establish specific lighting at certain times of the day or systems that turn on to welcome guests when they enter their room; some are also capable of simulating the visual effects of sunrise for a more natural wake-up call. These systems guarantee greater energy efficiency and favour the design of more personalised lighting concepts for guests to enjoy.

Furthermore, the use of a common interface for all aspects of an LED system installation, in particular the DALI lighting regulation and control system, allows for open systems with universal compatibility. It allows the development of flexible environments where many spaces and styles of lighting interact in harmony. DALI is an internationally recognised, standard system (IEC 62386) and guarantees compatibility with all luminaires or equipment, regardless of the manufacturer, which are marked with the DALI standard logo.

Lighting criteria by zones

A hotel is a beautiful conglomeration of spaces with different needs, uses and schedules. Therefore, it is important to plan the lighting in accordance with the main uses of the hotel’s areas and other fundamental aspects. The design should combine the natural light available with the lighting requirements of the hotel, so as to provide optimal lighting and savings, and use new control systems to provide greater efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

Nowadays, how the different spaces are perceived by guests is a key aspect in the success of an establishment. Consequently, it is of great importance to take care of the design of both exterior and interior areas.


The objective of good lighting on the facade is to enhance its appearance by taking into account its architectural characteristics and the surrounding buildings. The design shouldn’t overpower the main features, such as the windows, balconies, reliefs or cornices. Instead, a varied use of light should be applied which enhances and delimits the contours of the façade. Furthermore, if the building has a more classic design, it is possible to enrich it by using lighting directed from different angles, depending on the client’s preference. Ideally, the light should complement and define the contours of the façade.




Moreover, the choice of colour plays an important role in the illumination of the façade. For example, by using RGB floodlights to add different colours for commemorative events, important dates or changes of season. On the other hand, a whiter light can be used to give a more serious tone to the front of the building. Also, the establishment can reinforce its brand image by using backlighting to outline the hotel’s signage and use posts with integrated LED lights to help guide guests.

Finally, the design of the façade requires careful consideration when choosing the most suitable lighting equipment. LED floodlights provide great quality and adaptability, along with low maintenance and considerable energy savings.  The Esdium RGBW floodlight is a great option as it lights a large are without losing brightness. A well designed façade gives guests a positive first impression which in turn only serves to enhance their experience.


Common areas; Interior

Artificial and natural lighting play a decisive role in certain common areas of a hotel, especially in central spaces such as, large lobbies and spacious reception areas. By using a combination of lighting to create warm and inviting atmospheres, guests will want to spend time in these areas. The goal is to provide focused lighting without the need for high levels of lighting in general. 




Usually, the aim is to use soft lighting through the use of wall lights, table lamps, ceiling lamps, spotlights and recessed lights. In turn, the levels of light can be controlled by regulators, which allow for greater efficiency. In these areas, photosensitive cells are a perfect solution for these large indoor spaces with natural light. These cells can regulate the intensity of the lighting systems based on the hours of sunlight they receive.

In other transit zones of the hotel like corridors, stairways, passageways, etc, it is necessary to install solutions that offer general lighting only when the space is being used by guests or staff. Motion sensors, which turn on the light when someone enters the space, as well as permanently lit signs to guide people in case of emergency, are perfect solutions for these spaces.


The lighting used in hotel bedrooms should provide guests with a homelike sense of comfort and intimacy. The luminaires should be integrated into the architecture of the room, not necessarily to be seen, but to show the room and add to its decorative and comfortable elements. The rooms should be equipped with ambient lighting accompanied by reading lights, table lights and clear signage. Furthermore the guests should find the system easy to understand and use.




The hotel industry is now becoming more and more aware of the need for solutions that improve comfort and rest, such as the use of circadian lighting in order to guarantee guests a better night´s sleep. An important study conducted by the Intercontinental Hotels Group concluded that a lack of sleep is the greatest concern of travellers when they stay in hotels during business trips. Circadian lighting is based on adapting the artificial light of interior spaces to people´s natural biorhythmic cycles. In turn, the imbalance in circadian clocks, which has been linked to sleep disorders like loss of sleep, is halted.

This form of lighting is becoming more prevalent in interior design and in domestic architecture. The objective is to ensure that artificial light is as similar as possible to natural light with regards to the time of day and the seasons of the year. The dual spectrum luminaires and LEDs that provide this lighting allow customers to adjust the levels of light in accordance with how they are using the room.


Lighting in this area has its own set of complexities as not only does the architecture and style of the space have to be taken into account, but also the light must be adequate for food preparation and dining. Two aspects must be taken into careful consideration. Firstly, the Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of the luminaires must be adequate to light the tones and textures of the prepared meals and foods. This can be done with a luminaire of CRI>85. Secondly, the colour temperature should be appropriate for each zone, with cooler lighting in the kitchen and work spaces, and warmer tones in the dining area.




When defining the lighting for the restaurant, the objective is to create and install a system that allows diners to just relax and enjoy their meal in comfort. It is also necessary to ensure that the lighting in the different areas of the restaurant combines well and is both technical and functional.

If the restaurant is used as a multipurpose area throughout the day, perhaps serving breakfast, lunch and evening cocktails, it is necessary to make the lighting system especially flexible. In this way, the restaurant can be illuminated in different ways, depending on the time of day, type of food or the needs of the diner. There are a variety of LED solutions that provide general lighting during the day and other luminaires that generate a more intimate mood in the evenings.

Outdoor–Areas next to the Pool

In the exterior spaces of a hotel, lighting continues to play a key role, both in a decorative and functional manner. It is especially important in illuminating paths, transit zones and areas around pools, as these spaces must remain correctly defined both day and night. Bollards equipped with adjustable LED technology are a great solution for these spaces.



In particular, the Conet B1 bollard, with its modern design, is designed to provide clear perimeter light in garden areas next to pools and entrances. Thanks to its 350° rotating modules and a 100° rotating head, this bollard provides lighting for different points and heights. These bollards also stand out for their additional functions, such as the Bluetooth connected speaker module and a charging point for electric vehicles. Moreover, these bollards are straightforward to install as they have a universal base that is adaptable to all the models for compact floors or through a concrete structure for non-compact floors. In turn, these bollards create greater simplicity when designing an outdoor lighting system.


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