The All-day Dining Space: a Balance of Function and Narrative

There are two things we consider when designing the all-day dining outlet within a hotel. The first is functionality. If a restaurant doesn’t work properly from a practical point of view it doesn’t matter how attractive it is it will never be a success. Guests and employees need to be able to move around the space without restriction, there needs to be adequate spacing between tables and the kitchen needs to be of sufficient size and layout to handle the number of diners.

Our design team will sit in every chair in the restaurant to check the view and the space allocation and adjust if it doesn’t feel right. The same applies to, what we call, the unfriendly areas within the restaurant such as tables which are by the bathrooms or close to the service area where customers are generally not keen to sit. Purposely placed plants, screens and wooden partitions help design around these areas.

With a multi-use space adaptability and agility is key to take the restaurant from breakfast through lunch and to dinner successfully transforming the space and setting the right mood. It should have the capability of repurposing assets and redirecting resources to scale change with fluidity. This can be achieved through large tables which can be reconfigured into smaller tables for the evening, or through the introduction of booths with panels that can be repurposed depending on the atmosphere required.

The second consideration is the concept. Some operators like to theme their all-day dining restaurant, especially if it is the only dining outlet in the hotel. Caution is required here though as themes can quickly date or can be inappropriate for the three meal concept. Our guide here is to pick a design that reflects the menu or brand and work this into the space in a modern way. Quite often it is the location that is the inspiration for the interior design as it is for one of our current projects – the DoubleTree by Hilton Sharjah. The hotel overlooks the lagoons and so our approach was to bring nature into the interiors through the inclusion of native trees and plants and a colour palette where fresh pops of green mingle with warm earth tones.

The story behind the design is essential. We make sure there is a strong narrative that is carried through the space from the material and furniture selection to the artwork playing its part without being too contrived or superfluous. The team will sit together at the beginning of the project to identify who the target audience is and how they will connect with the restaurant.

A well-balanced space can also help achieve a classic look. Our eyes naturally seek out order and a sense of stability which means that no matter how much decorating styles may change there is always balance. To do this we start with a single focal point such as a buffet counter, a pendant chandelier or a central display for example, and work outwards mirroring the design elements, ordering items such as tables or display units in pairs.

Regardless of the type of restaurant we design, longevity is key. Of course we want our spaces to look appealing but they also need to be impactful for a reasonable length of time. Timeless interiors that don’t date are created through the use of good quality furniture, materials and decorative pieces that will stand the test of time without looking shabby or dated in a few short years.