Boutique Hotel, what does it mean?
I think all of us have noticed that more and more hotels all over the world are putting the word “boutique” into their names. Have you ever wondered what that actually means?
If you were thinking of a new hip French hotel chain, you are unfortunately off track, and no, they are not selling the brand new Gucci bag at the reception!
It is just a phenomenon; I would say a sort of movement, more than a proper hotel category. It started in the 1980s with some small hotels in the center of big cities, like London and New York. The hoteliers who started this successful trend used to feature their boutique properties with stylish furniture, refused to affiliate to any chain and tried to offer an intimate service to their “chic” guests. Those brave entrepreneurs could not imagine at that time that they would have inspired hundreds of competitors in the course of the next 30 years.
Specific rules for a hotel to be called “boutique” are not given, but, as in every artistic or architectural style, there are at least some guidelines that are usually followed:
- A Boutique Hotel is small. It should not have more than 100 rooms, because it has to offer a personal touch to every guest.
- It is an independent hotel, or part of an “only-boutique” chain.
- It is located in the city center or in a very trendy area, usually the main shopping one.
- It features a designer decor, with all the newest technological gadgets.
- It feels part of the place where it is located, for example offering local food.
- A Boutique Hotel is not only rooms, it gathers people because it is trendy and cool to gather in its lobby, restaurant and bar. Do not be surprised if the Restaurant Chef is a very famous one!
The phenomenon is actually so successful, that all of the major hotel chains are now offering their own “intimate” Boutique Brand, like “W” and “aloft” within the giant Starwood chain, or the “Indigo” owned by InterContinental Hotels Group.
Design Hotels is a company that collects and markets some of the best and hippest boutique hotels in the world.
According to me, the concept of boutique constantly changes with the time and with people’s tastes. It is a matter of perception, a style, a trend, or better, the biggest hotel trend at the moment. My suggestion is to try one, and then let me know if you do not get addicted!
Inspired by “What Are Boutique Hotels?”, article by Karen Tina Harrison, About.com Guide (http://luxurytravel.about.com/od/hotelandresorts/tp/What-Are-Boutique-Hotels.htm)