updated 5/3/2010 12:54:08 PM ET 2010-05-03T16:54:08

A bright, spacious room. A glittering wall tiled in custom Italian glass mosaics. A crystal chandelier hanging from a drop ceiling. Restaurant? Ballroom?

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Nope, it’s a bathroom at the $200 million Mondrian South Beach in Miami. And that chandelier isn’t just a lighting fixture: turn a couple knobs, and you’ll be immersed in one of the world’s sexiest hotel showers.

Where hotel showers were once a utilitarian afterthought (clingy curtain, anyone?), they may now be the pièce de résistance of the entire room. This new breed of bathroom fixtures features glass walls that change opacity at the push of a button, multiple showerheads, and even killer city views.

Hoteliers know that a sexy shower can be the deciding factor in sealing a reservation. In an interview with Travel + Leisure, hotelier André Balazs—whose latest property is the Standard New York—noted, “I don’t think you can possibly overstate [a bathroom’s] importance.”

Indeed, Balazs may have started the haute shower trend in the ’90s with huge bathrooms (at the Standard in downtown L.A., they measure a whopping 270 square feet). Now it’s no longer a common practice for hoteliers to “borrow” space from the bedroom and create a tiny bathroom nook.

Showers, especially, impress by their sheer size. Of course, a great location doesn’t hurt, either.

Image: Basico, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Undine Prohl
Book the Patricia, Paulina, and Sofia rooms at the Basico, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the industrial-chic tub and shower that shares the bedroom space; floor-to-ceiling windows look out to the ocean.

At the Viceroy Anguilla, for example, roomy showers are outdoors (and if there’s anything more exhilarating than taking a shower under a blanket of stars, we can’t think of it) and have wooden shutters that open up to a gorgeous view of the sea. Too breathtaking? No problem; have a seat on the relaxing, custom-built benches.

Meanwhile, in large metropolises, hoteliers get even more creative when designing showers, perhaps to make up for limited space issues.

At the boutique Cocker hotel in Buenos Aires, the shower is set in a glass cube, which is stacked directly above the bed. The Andaz in San Diego takes a different approach; at the touch of a button, the glass partition between shower and hotel room turns clear or opaque.

So forget testing the firmness of the bed or checking out the contents of the mini-bar. These days it’s all about the shower.

Copyright © 2012 American Express Publishing Corporation


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