Many travelers nowadays no longer prefer to stay in conventional chain hotels and book for pre-arranged family tours. Instead, they are looking for unique experiences everywhere they go. Because of this shift in the way people travel, boutique hotels have surely grown in popularity, not just in the fashion capitals of the world but also in rising cities with a vibrant artist communities and growing economies. In fact, you can find a boutique hotel in New York and Los Angeles, all the way to Bucharest and Manila.
History of Boutique Hotels
In 1981, two of the first boutique hotels in the world opened their doors to the public located in London and San Francisco. Yet it wasn’t until 1984 that the concept really grew in popularity, when an American hotelier named Ian Schrager and his business partner Steve Rubell opened the doors of the Morgans Hotel in New York. Since then, the number of boutique hotels has tremendously been on the rise, with it being trendy and the fact that more travelers are looking for intimate spaces and personalized experiences.
Characteristics of Boutique Hotels
While the definition of a boutique hotel varies especially among hoteliers and the hotel industry’s biggest players alike, they would all agree that a boutique hotel possesses the following features:
- Target Market
Boutique hotels attract a totally different market than the savvy business travelers who usually book the same suite in their favorite hotel chains. In fact, guests are usually in their early 20’s to their mid 50’s, with many of them working in the creative industry and are trendy and chic themselves.
- Architecture and Design
Boutique hotels tend to break free from the traditional hotel concept by integrating historical details with chic elegance into its overall architecture and design. As this is the case, many of the boutique hotel properties nowadays are often charming and full of personality. Its design can range from modern to minimalist, all the way to whimsical and romantic. Yet what really makes boutique hotels one-of-a-kind are the different themes in each of their rooms to make every guest’s stay in the property truly unique, even for the repeat customers.
If big hotel chains are focused on maximizing their occupancy, boutique hotels are focused on personalizing the experience. As such, they are typically smaller in size, with a total of no more than a hundred rooms. Having fewer rooms really allows the staff to pay attention on the needs of their guests and make their stay as luxurious or as comfortable as possible.
While many big players in the boutique hotel industry nowadays argue that “boutique” is an approach and is irrelevant of size, it is practically a given that boutique hotels are all about the unique experience. Boutique hotels do not only impress guests with their architecture and intimacy; they leave them speechless with their excellent level of service. How? They make sure to personalize the experience as if you’re the only guest in the property, and they go the extra mile is to make sure your stay is memorable as can be– whether that means treating you to a free bottle of Moët upon check-in or pampering you with organic bath products from Aesop or La Mer. It is the element of surprise in design, food and ambiance that sets them apart. Additionally, most of these hotels refer to their guests on a first-name basis. This adds to the intimacy of the experience, which is clearly difficult to achieve in a large-scale hotel.
- Trendy Location
Most, if not all, city boutique hotels are located in trendy, hip locations. In fact, they’re not just sprouting in the biggest fashion and media capitals of the world, they’re also centrally located in the most happening neighborhoods of these cities. This adds to the overall appeal of boutique hotels among its target market, as they get a homey feel within a bustling city environment.
Benefits of Booking a Room in a Boutique Hotel
Instead of choosing from bland hotel inventories that offer luxury in the form of continent breakfast buffet spread and 600-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, it is high time for you to experience a different brand of luxury with boutique hotels. If you’re still unsure about the experience you’re going to get, here’s what in it for you:
- Personalized service
At boutique hotels, you’re not just another guest. The staff intimately knows you by name and tailors your visit according to your preferences – down to the kind of pillows you prefer and how many you would need to give you the most restful sleep.
- One-of-a-kind experience
Boutique hotels are more than just a place to dump your bags and rest your head. The staff actually makes your stay in the property an experience in itself. From personalize cocktails to Reiki treatments, each place has a little something up their sleeve to make your experience memorable.
- No two stays are the same
Even if you stay in the same boutique hotel twice, you’ll always have a different kind of experience every single time. That’s because every room is unique with custom lighting, fixtures and accents depending on the overall theme of the hotel.
Since boutique hotels are often independently owned, you’ll find that boutique hotels offer more in terms of variety. No matter what your personal preferences are when it comes to finding your home away from home when you travel, there is likely a boutique hotel to meet your expectations and needs.
At the end of the day, trying to define what a boutique hotel is remains a big challenge. Although maybe that’s exactly what makes ‘boutique hotels’ what they are. Every property is so unique that it’s impossible to put a finger on what makes them fall into that category. Besides, words are not enough to describe the way boutique hotels make their guests feel. On top of breaking up the monotony, many boutique hotels have perfected the art of connecting with their guests, making them feel special and treating them like VIP. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, otherwise it would be no different than staying in a standard hotel chain!