Gone are the days of the Barbizon Hotel for Women. Or are they? Some hotel operators are beginning to target the needs and desires of solo female travelers with new room design, extra security features, and luxury bath products.
When Carolyn Pearson started Maiden Voyage eight years ago to provide advice and connect solo women travelers so they wouldn’t have to dine alone, many hotels weren’t even thinking about that demographic. But with women now making up nearly half of all business travelers in the U.S. and Europe, more hotels are changing their strategy. “The industry is starting to wake up, and some hotels are asking, ‘How do we get involved?’” Pearson says.
Of course, most of the amenities that female business travelers look for are shared by their male counterparts—clean rooms, strong Wi-Fi, and reliable security, to name a few. Some might criticize “women’s only” zones that seem to rely on pampering over practicality. One travel expert isn’t sold on the idea. “It’s insulting,” says Michelle ‘Mick’ Lee, the founder of Women in Travel and a member of T+L’s Business Travel Advisory Board. “With all of our efforts to achieve equality, hearing about items only for females (hair dryers, nylons, etc.) hits me as borderline insulting unless it is followed up by items for men and services for all.”
That hasn’t stopped several hotels from rethinking their rooms with women in mind in a variety of ways.
In Chicago, every room at the new Virgin Hotel has a lounge and a dressing room that can be closed off from the private bedroom by a sliding wooden door with a peephole. Guests can order room service and have it delivered without interacting with hotel staff.
The Hamilton Crowne Plaza in Washington, D.C., has a women’s floor accessible via a special key card. “Safety is a big concern, especially knowing how easily hotel employees can just come into your room,” says Sarah Cloninger, author of travel blog Road Warriorette.
More Closet Space
The Virgin Hotel was designed to have larger closets with a sliding shoe rack. Walk-in closets have long been a staple of luxury brands, such as Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.
Each of the rooms at the Ellis is stocked with L’Occitane beauty products and extra-soft slippers and bathrobes. And, taking it perhaps a bit too far, the Ellis even pipes floral-scented air into the women’s floor.