During the 1980s, a different breed of hotels emerged in New York, London, and San Francisco. Known as boutique hotels, they aimed to set themselves apart from overly ubiquitous big hotel chains. Rather than simply providing lodging and slapping on some amenities, boutique hotels were unique in their style and furnishings. They traditionally targeted people in 20s to 50s, who had more disposable income.
Now that boutique hotels have become more commonplace with big chains in the game (e.g. Intercontinental Hotel Group with Hotel Indigo), the standards have gone up even more. People expect the personal attention of a small hotel combined with the amenities of a luxury brand.
Even the very definition of boutique hotels is getting blurred. The “purists” would say that a hotel couldn’t be considered boutique if it exceeds 100 to 150 rooms. That’s due to the belief that it’s harder for a bigger hotel to provide personal experience.
On the contrary, some would say a hotel size doesn’t play as big of a factor; it’s all about the approach and attitude. As long as hotels answer this one crucial question, they can be considered boutique. Do they entertain and delight? Whether through music, architecture, lighting, unique or specialized themes or art, as long as hotels provide one-of-a-kind atmosphere, they meet the criteria for boutique.
Even if people disagree on the true definition, one thing is certain about boutique hotels. People want the personal experience. Every room is slightly different and not a cookie-cutter design. Only the essential amenities are provided because too many choices can actually paralyze people when making decisions. But these amenities don’t feel like the “bare minimum.”
Detail to attention is meticulous. Take door hinges for example. Not too many people think about door hinges, but at many boutique hotels that boast contemporary interior, you’ll notice the hinges are missing.
These “invisible hinges” are hidden when the doors and cabinets are closed, adding to the smooth and clean lines. Unless the hotels are going for the vintage or classical look, traditional hinges are bulky, take up a lot of room, and detract from the decor. Concealed door hinges solve that problem.
Boutique hotels also meet higher standards by essentially being mind readers. They go beyond the expensive sheets and memory foam beds. Prior to check in, they’ll ask their guests what their sleeping preferences are and provide accordingly. This ensures every guest has a customized experience.
In a nutshell, boutique hotels focus on providing quality experience at a personal level, regardless of the size. They pay attention to smallest details, like using hidden hinges on their doors and cabinets. They generally take care to make sure their interior is different and reflects the characteristics of the hotels.