What Coffee Table Books Are In Your Lobby?

Your boutique hotel has the opportunity to pay attention to every detail. And when put together, those little details make all the difference to your guest experience.

Boutique hotel coffee table books in lobby.

I have a weird addiction to reading material such as coffee table books, magazines and cookbooks. So, when asked to help a hotel infuse their brand throughout the property and create their guest experience, I'm always thrilled when we get to the part, "what books and magazines work in your hotel?"

Didn't know that was a part of the process? Oh, yes!

In the name of brand consistency and connecting the dots, the little things make the difference.

Your magazines and books need to be chosen with purpose. They must be on brand. They need to make sense.

Two examples - first, my doctor's waiting area (just trust me) and then a luxury spa.

A couple of months ago I had a doctor’s appointment and while in the waiting room, I noticed all of the Health/GQ/Local/Arts/Fashion magazines that he always had (helps with the wait time) were gone and replaced with high, high end shelter/design magazines and coffee table books. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think there were any magazines except in the examination room - the only thing in the lobby were design and decor books.

Now, I love these types of books (see first paragraph), but this didn't make sense. The lobby and its slightly tired furniture and bad lighting were the same. The staff still wore the same uniforms - Marc Jacobs hadn't shown up and made them over. I sat there and asked myself "why?" (obviously, I wasn't that sick) and could not come up with anything except maybe my doctor had started dating an interior designer. And through love, he took her advice to create more of a lifestyle/home/hospitality space.

Now, this may not be what happened, but he got some outside counsel from somewhere. And, though beautiful and something I would gladly spend hours flipping through with a glass of wine on a rainy Saturday afternoon, it wasn't on-brand.

Did they think about who and what this doctor's office is all about? Did they think about the patients and what they care about? Could looking at beautiful pictures cause you to forget your health problems? Yes. . . .. . . beauty can heal, but it just didn't work.


Cucumber water, anyone?

Since magazines are one of my passions obsessions, I love when my clients and I get to evaluate what magazines they should have in their spaces. Now, if you are a nail salon, I say have as many options as you can. But, in this example, we are in a resort spa that promised a "few hours of escape from your daily world."

Not everyone agrees with me and their is an argument to be made is that some people enjoy reading about the Kardashians and that in itself is an escape. I get it. But you are creating an experience: you are choosing music - the softest throws - you make sure the chaise lounge in the relaxation area faces a view - there's a fountain - you have cucumber water or decaffeinated teas.

(I bet you’re calmer already.) So, why would your magazines be Newsweek, or People or even The New York Times (NYT should be offered at breakfast)? Remember your purpose. Remember your brand. And remember every little choice either strengthens your brand or weakens it. And this will either strengthen or weaken your customer's relationship and loyalty to you.

We decided to include upscale travel magazines, home decor magazines, high-end fashion and a few things like Oprah's O. Watch what is read and what never gets picked up. Listen to your guests. If the purpose of your spa is to make people feel hip and sexy, then your choices will be different (and that could be fun!). Want some help with this? Here's a guide to better understanding your customers.


Here's a fun extra detail — see the main photo at the top of this post? If you look carefully on the right, you will see a ribbon sticking out of the book. At one hotel, ribbons were used as bookmarks. And of course, they always complimented the decor of the room. It's fun and and an idea I brought home with me. Just make sure that it fits your style - silk or burlap or linen or velvet.

It is the culmination of so many little details that weave together your brand.

As a smaller property, you can pay attention. Ask your staff to pay attention. Do they hear guests commenting on the ribbon bookmark? Are guests taking pictures of certain books so they will remember them later? Look at the books - are some never even touched? Yes, it goes way beyond books. But, that's one place to start. There are so many touchpoints, and you can download a guide to finding those, right here.

So, remember:

  • Pay attention to your brand messaging and consistency.

  • Think about it from your guest's perspective.

  • Be creative - show them something they won't find everywhere else.

  • Pay attention.

See? Full circle. Happy reading!