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And the link to the results of the poll on the primary purpose of respondents' last visit to Las Vegas is at the bottom of this answer.
Why don't hotels have a ceiling light in their rooms? I'm not talking about super-deluxe suites (which might be different, as we never get one), but the regular rooms. The lights by the bed, over the desk, maybe a floor lamp, or one in the hall as you enter the room do not light up the whole room very good, as there can be dark areas. Just wondering, is there is a reason?
While he shares your fondness for overhead lighting, Sacramento-based architect Vincent Maloney has an explanation, “The primary reason in hotels is that the floor-ceiling assembly is fire-rated and installing lighting in it would compromise the system. In a lot of hotels, in fact, that floor is a single concrete slab with the ceiling finish directly applied to it.”
Raving Consulting hotel-design expert Brett Magnan adds, “The short answer is that properties (many casinos and some traditional hotels) value-engineer out soffits and only have them over the bathroom due to cost. Better properties will have a small channel soffit that runs the length of the room to hold cans or other pendant light fixtures over the bed or desk.”
Now we'll put it into layman's terms.
"Floor-ceiling assembly" is the term used to describe how the floor of a room on, say, the 15th floor of a hotel combines with the ceiling of the room directly underneath it on the 14th floor. Walls and floor-ceiling assemblies with fire resistance rated in hours are required between sections of commercial, industrial, and multifamily residential buildings (sound is also factored in). Building this way leaves no cavity between floors through which to run electrical wire.
Placing permanent ceiling lights in hotel rooms would also render layout (both where the rooms go on a floor and where the furniture goes in a room) less flexible. For example, what if five years down the road, a hotel wants to remodel the room? The new plan would need, at least in part, to be arranged around the permanent light fixtures.
Also, some people who share rooms or beds want to operate out of sync, one sleeping while the other burns a reading light, so it's common to provide a desk lamp on each side of a queen or king bed. Others also want task lighting at the provided desk.
Add it all up, including the ease of plugging lamps into the wall in lieu of overhead lighting, and you’re left with a low likelihood of entering a reasonably priced hotel room with sufficient overhead lighting.
We didn't know any of this until we started looking into the question. Thanks for asking; it's interesting and we'll remember it during future hotel stays.
And here's the link to the results of the previous poll on the primary purpose of respondents' last trip to Las Vegas.
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