Hotels, Bars, and Restaurants Lighting Design Ideas


These projects need to create the necessary conditions where people enjoy themselves. These, along with retail lighting, are the most demanding, as the rooms can be themed, inviting, and clients and staff must still be able to do what they need to do.
The interior designer will often have a strong idea of the theme, ambience and overall look of the space. Our job is to help identify the tasks which will take place, how much lighting will be required for people to perform those tasks, and then come up with a lighting plan which meets all of these, and a budget.
But it can be achieved by going right back to the basics of lighting design.

Ambient Light – General lighting.
Task Lighting – Lights to enable people to perform the tasks they need to in the space.
Accent Lighting – To draw attention to features and displays.
Decorative Lighting – Think of this like wearing jewellery. It is not required, but it does add that extra something to appearance.

Let’s jump straight in and look at a few specific scenarios where we will have design ideas to work to, and tasks to enable, the issues you’ll come up against, and how you might work around them.

Illuminating Tables In Restaurants:

This is a classic problem. Designers want the ambient light levels lo so that atmosphere can be created. Guests need enough light to be able to read the menus. These are conflicting requirements.
A recessed spotlight in the ceiling can be a great way of lighting a table, a tasteful hanging pendant light, or even lamps on a nearby wall can work well… Until the tables need to be moved to accommodate a large party of guests, or simply combining two small tables to make a larger one.

Directional spot lights can overcome this – but imagine the staff having to merge two tables in to one, and then reaching up to adjust the direction of the light… It can work well if the tables are laid out for the evening.
This problem is one reason why candles are popular in restaurants. They are completely portable and provide some task light on the table as well as atmosphere. Battery powered lamps are also available but we’re not fans of their effectiveness.

So what is the answer?

As with all conflicts – the answer requires compromise. The issue needs to be considered by the people who will manage and run the restaurant on a day to day basis.
Hotel Function Rooms:
These can feel a bit like a ‘mission impossible’. Most rooms have a specific purpose: A restaurant will only ever be for eating, a reception area will only ever be for welcoming, but a hotel function room might need to provide space for: weddings, exhibitions, conferences, discos, dining, etc.
Again, getting back to basics and layering light can help us get a solution to the design requirements:
Ambient Light –This should certainly be dimmable. High levels of ambient light will be required for exhibitions, with low levels for more atmospheric events.
Task Lighting – There will need to be several different task lighting layers:
Perhaps lighting one end as a stage or ‘front’ of the room for a conference.
Some stage/disco lighting, or at least the ability to mount such lighting.
Some pathway lighting.
Some directional spotlights to illuminate tables (like the restaurant lighting problem) Etc.
Accent Lighting – This will depend on some of the architectural and design features in the room.
Decorative Lighting – Again, where can a real ‘wow’ factor come in to play.

This is how to approach the design process:
1. Let the interior designer and architect conclude their concepts completely.
2. Identify the tasks which will be undertaken in the space for both guests and employees.
3. Consider whether the decorative illumination will provide enough lighting for the tasks.
4. If not, consider whether the decorative lighting will provide enough lighting for the tasks.
5. If not, add the relevant task lighting.

Lighting hotels, bars and restaurants is one of the most difficult areas of lighting design. If you would like us to help you, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.