Holiday Inn Express, Roseburg, OR

Diane Boller, ASID

During a recent stay at a client’s hotel, a new community table had just been delivered.  Since the lobby and breakfast room were still being renovated, the table was placed in a temporary location in the lobby.  The chairs were somewhat haphazardly lined up nearby, but that did not prevent guests from pulling them up to the table and using them. At three different times as I walked through the lobby there were guests using the table, even though there were many other places to sit.  The next morning during breakfast service, the communal table was full with second group waiting to take over as soon as the first group left.  Again, there were numerous other tables available, but guests clearly preferred the communal table.

When hotel franchises started recommending community tables in breakfast rooms a few years ago, many hotel owners were extremely skeptical.  Time after time, I heard ‘it’s a passing fad’, or ‘no one will ever use it’.  The concept of a guest preferring to sit in a public area with strangers while using his laptop vs. the privacy of his guest room seemed extremely far-fetched at the time.  Obviously the skeptics, me included, were wrong.

Community tables, also known as communal tables, have become the hot spot in a wide range of environments from offices to restaurants to wine galleries to hotels.   They have taken on a variety of sizes, shapes and styles.  In many cases, hotel owners have had to re-think the use of their public spaces to fit changing social trends.

We have helped develop the concept for a number of our clients.  Our first communal table design was geared primarily for business travelers, and has been very well-received.


Holiday Inn Express, Richland, WA

Later designs provided a more whimsical or social ambiance, like this serpentine design in a colorful setting.

Holiday Inn Express, Meridian, Idaho

Something as simple as this bar- height, four-top table with dataport & outlets gets lots of use.  Guests definitely prefer to sit at the elevated height.


Holiday Inn Express, Grants Pass, OR

This community table was designed to fit between two structural columns in a small lobby.  An otherwise awkward space was transformed to a gathering place by utilizing the area for a community table.


Best Western John Day Inn, John Day, OR

Like social media that has led to an explosion of shared information and ideas, communal tables provide another format for social interaction.  While nothing lasts forever, we’re convinced that communal tables will be around for a long time!