Comment: Let there be light

Desert River co-founder and director Claudia van der Werf looks at the importance of lighting in the hotel sector, how it can enhance a space and, ultimately, lead to revenue generation for hoteliers

Claudia van der Werf
Claudia van der Werf

Within moments of entering a restaurant, guests should experience excitement, well-being and of course increased appetite. And it’s not just about the food and the service — interior design and beautiful lighting can make or break the overall dining experience. Lighting is often one of the most underrated design elements in an establishment yet is one of the greatest impact factors on that feeling of well-being. The good news? It is very easy to improve by following a few tips. Even small changes to design related elements can completely alter a customer’s perception.

Bad lighting can make your décor, food and furniture less appealing. Great lighting invigorates your guests’ senses, even beyond sight. We’ve all experienced places that got it wrong — with too bright, not enough or just garish lighting!

Our top tips for setting the right mood:

- Warm vs cool lights: Warm white light is considered more romantic, giving more warmth and ambience. Cool white light is harsher and often used in modern, trendy environments that have lots of cool white in the furniture. Cool white light makes the human body and face look paler and therefore people often prefer the softer warm white light.

- Don’t mix warm and cool white light - they each have a distinctive look and feel. Many of our table lights have the options of both warm and cool white light, enabling you get the same design and style but with different atmospheric outputs.

- Consider bright vs subdued: If you need to light up an area for practical purposes, for example to read a menu, light output should be enough to do so. At we call this “functional light”. If the light’s job is just to “sit and be pretty” i.e. provide atmosphere, we would call it “decorative light”. All our functional lights are decorative, but not all decorative lights are necessarily functional, so consider what you need. Some artificial candles, for example, have limited light output, which makes them great for romantic and relaxing areas.

- Use directional lighting on tables: our Moments table lamps range has a strong light output. Yet due to the attractive metal lamp shade, the light gets directed downwards and lights up the entire table surface without any upwards glare.

-  Consider how your space will be lit at different times of day. For example, many restaurants use dimmers to change the intensity of light over the course of the day. Most of our table lights have dimmer settings, so can be adjusted as per your requirements.

- Table lighting: whatever the style of the space, don’t let your table tops stand empty. A light in the middle is decorative and functional. Our collection offers a wide choice of designs — ranging from the ornate to the minimalist, and from the cool to the quirky. So, by properly setting the mood, lighting will influence your customers to enjoy a lengthy dining experience, which will hopefully lead to a larger order too. The longer customers spend in your restaurant or bar, the more likely they are to spend more money.

Desert River is a Dubai-based company supplying lighting solutions to hotels, restaurants and retailers across the Middle East. To find out more and to view the wide range of products available, visit

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