We have all succumbed to city noise: A 5 a.m. call to prayer courtesy of a mosque after a lengthy flight, a late-night New York bar crowd living it up in the wee hours, a raucous Carnival scene in Rio during an important business trip. Whatever the scenario, even the loftiest skyscraper accommodations can’t always escape the din.
Thankfully, the age of ultra-quiet hotels—tranquil urban cocoons that are ideal for guests in search of an escape or simply a space to rest and concentrate—is upon us.
The party hotels of the 1990s gave rise to the sleep-friendly accommodations of the 2000s, which prioritized high-end amenities for comfort. But there is a more scientific approach that involves innovations you don’t necessarily see, like triple-paned windows, extra-thick walls and cork floor layers.
The true measure of a hotel room’s soundproofing is evaluated by how well it deflects its cacophonous surroundings. Yet few major booking sites offer visitors the opportunity to single out quiet hotels in notoriously noisy cities like Cairo and Tokyo, relying instead on user-generated feedback.
This is where brand recognition comes in. Soundproofing styles have become proprietary secrets among hoteliers. All Four Seasons hotels must meet the approval of an acoustics consultant. Some properties rely on white-noise removal systems, like the Sound+Sleep (soundofsleep.com) machines found in rooms at several Fairmont properties, including the Heritage Place in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square. Others, such as the Tribeca Grand in New York, outsource soundproofing to companies like K.R. Moeller Associates, which has installed LogiSon sound-masking devices in rooms.
“In the J.D. Power Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index, guest-room noise has repeatedly topped the list of complaints,” says Niklas Moeller, K.R. Moeller Associates vice president. “But noise complaints are rarely resolved to the guest’s satisfaction, and new approaches are definitely needed that tackle the problem from a different angle.”
Technology aside, one of those angles can be as simple as choosing a quiet neighborhood, like those where several of our top choices reside. Consider it the ultimate do-not-disturb sign.