Next time you want your eyes to hurt, try searching the hashtag #Instagrammable on Twitter. It’s a good indication of how a growing need to stand out has led to social-media feeds becoming a mishmash of tasteful angles and colours so bright they make Super Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road level look understated. In order for hotels to be #Instagrammable, it isn’t enough to provide a comfy bed, a travel kettle and some non-UHT milk. Every detail must be both perfect and “aspirational”, right down to the bathrobes.
Many hotels are reportedly trying to capture a younger market by investing in new bathrobe designs. The Kimpton chain of boutique hotels has selfie-friendly animal-print dressing gowns in its rooms. Other, less conventional, designs include the denim bathrobes of New York’s Hotel Americano (though how absorbent is denim?) and a special pair of Diane von Furstenberg robes at Claridge’s, but only if you stay in the exclusive Grand Piano suite.
“The best robes are the ones that reflect part of the hotel’s personality: a sexy and seductive design, a splash of signature colour, an eco-friendly construction, child-sized versions and so on,” explains Tamara Heber-Percy, co-founder of the luxury hotels booking site Mr and Mrs Smith. “It’s the attention to detail that makes for a more memorable stay.”
For the Dorchester, in London, which has bathrobes suitable for children from the age of two, it’s all about quality, softness and thickness. “As well as being extra thick, our robes have subtle design touches that include a grey trim, the logo of the Dorchester and a hood to give them a more luxurious feel,” says Sabah Smith, executive housekeeper at the hotel. While she refuses to be drawn into how often robes “disappear” from hotel rooms, she says, tactfully, that guests who wish to take them home are able to do so by purchasing them from the hotel.
However, there is one area of the industry that won’t be getting on board any time soon. Shakila Ahmed, director of communications for Travelodge, says focus groups consistently tell the chain that budget hotel guests aren’t bothered about extras such as robes. “Our guests want to be close to where they need to be, a good night’s sleep, tea and coffee in the room, a power shower and a TV,” she says – though if they used that signature navy and red to make leopard-print dressing gowns, they might be more #Instagrammable yet.
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