A photographer stayed in Hilton hotels in 32 countries — and his photos expose what we really crave when we travel

Courtesy of Roger EberhardPhotographer Roger Eberhard’s Hilton hotel room in Cape Town, South Africa, doesn’t seem too far off from what a Hilton room in New York looks like.
  • Photographer Roger Eberhard stayed in 32 different Hilton hotel rooms in 32 countries within the span of 365 days.
  • He photographed the views from his hotel windows, all of which look very different, and sequenced them with photos of each room, which looked remarkably identical.
  • The photo series compiled in his book “Standard” illustrates how, even when we travel, humans tend to gravitate toward standardization and crave certainty.

Swiss photographer Roger Eberhard doesn’t usually stay in hotels like the popular Hilton chain when he travels.

But for his new project, “Standard,” he switched things up a bit – by staying in 32 different Hilton rooms across 32 countries.

In each of the 32 cities, he photographed his room from the exact same angle, as well as the view of the city from the hotel window.

Business Insider spoke to Roger Eberhard about his series.


Roger Eberhard set out on his travels specifically for this project.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Venice, Italy.

Over the course of exactly 365 days, he stayed in 32 cities across 32 countries.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Venice, Italy from the hotel window.

In each city, he stayed in a Hilton hotel room and photographed both the room …

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Tel Aviv, Israel.

… and the view of the city from the hotel window, like Tel Aviv below.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Tel Aviv, Israel from the hotel window.

He compiled his photos into a series, called “Standard,” named for humans’ innate need for standardization.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“It raises questions about our need for security, that is the main aspect of the project,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Hanoi, Vietnam from the hotel window.

“The system was always the same: four pillows, there was an armchair in the corner with a reading light, and all the hotels had the same alarm clock,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Tokyo, Japan.

The uniformity was important for the project, Eberhard said. The layout had to be the same, which for the most part was easy to find …

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Tokyo, Japan from the hotel window.

… except when it came to the bed. The bed had to be on the right side of the room upon entering.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Shanghai, China.

But it almost never worked out on the first try.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Shanghai, China from the hotel window.

Eberhard said he had to change rooms ten times while staying in Nairobi, Kenya, to find a layout with the bed on the side that he wanted.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Nairobi, Kenya.

He said he would say to the staff, “’I’m not happy with the room, can you give me a room with the bed on the right-hand side?’”

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Nairobi, Kenya from the hotel window.

He said despite his unique requests, the Hilton staff was completely accommodating.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Reykjavik, Iceland.

He stayed in only one hotel for each country, flying from Australia to Asia to Turkey to Dubai, among others, for only one night.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Reykjavik, Iceland from the hotel window.

As for why he chose the Hilton hotel chain as his lodging, Eberhard said it’s because it’s one of the biggest names in the western hotel industry.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Panama City, Panama.

“When I think of westernized hotels, there’s a few that I can think of, but Hilton is definitely one of them,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Panama City, Panama from the hotel window.

“If some people need the comfort and the recognizability, the American feel of home, they stay at the Hilton, or any of these hotels offering something that’s high in demand,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in New York, New York.

Eberhard said he doesn’t usually stay in hotels like the Hilton when he travels, but he had nothing but good experiences staying at Hiltons for the project.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of New York, New York from the hotel window.

“It’s a comfortable way of staying for sure,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Cape Town, South Africa.

He said the hotels try to “infuse aspects of localism” into their hotels depending on which country or city they’re located in.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Cape Town, South Africa from the hotel window.

“Sometimes it’s the curtains, or a Murano glass lamp like in the Venice hotel, or weird wallpaper that gives a hint to the cultures where you are, yet still [in a] very sterile and controlled way,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Bangkok, Thailand.

“We live now in a time where we try to have more individualized experiences, and you have these little things in the hotels that let you know where you are in the world,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Bangkok, Thailand from the hotel window.

But, he said, what was funny was, when you stripped the rooms of their local characteristics, they were all the same.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Berlin, Germany.

Not every hotel was built in the same decade either.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Berlin, Germany from the hotel window.

Eberhard said that could set them apart from each other.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Cairo, Egypt.

“A hotel built in Cairo in the 1970s looked very different from one in Paris that was refurbished,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Cairo, Egypt from the hotel window.

But still, especially with photos of each hotel room laid out side-by-side in “Standard,” the standard rooms look nearly identical.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardHilton room in Paris, France.

“You wake up and you have no idea what continent you are on,” Eberhard said.

Courtesy of Roger EberhardView of Paris, France from the hotel window.

You can purchase Eberhard’s book, “Standard,” on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

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