What is a Boutique Hotel? 6 Requirements and How to Find Beautiful Hotels

What is a Boutique Hotel? 6 Requirements and How to Find Beautiful HotelsBoutique hotels are some of the best places to stay when traveling.

It’s a perfect compromise when you prefer to have your own space, you don’t like to stay in a dorm, or you don’t have the budget to splurge for 5-star hotels.

Boutique hotels are somewhere in the middle, offering great amenities but with a more reasonable price range.

While there are no strict guidelines on what can be considered as a “boutique hotel”, they have distinct characteristics that you could easily spot.

Have a look for instance at Morgen & Mees in Amsterdam.  It is a small hotel with only 9 rooms. Morgen&Mees is located within a beautiful, traditional house in West Amsterdam. It also comes with an in-house restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a perfect example of a great boutique hotel offering the full experience.

Find here all our best boutique hotels in Amsterdam.

The building of Morgan&Mees Hotel in Amsterdam

However, if you are not sure what boutique hotels are and if you want to know more about this type of accommodation, read on and this article will help you further understand what it’s all about.

In this article we talk about:

Important: We also wrote up a big guide on how to use Booking.com for actually making your final reservation. It is a must-read guide as you can save money and we share how to avoid pitfalls.

Meaning of Boutique

The simplest definition of what a boutique hotel is “a small, sophisticated, and fashionable business or establishment“.

This simply means that a boutique hotel is — a small, stylish hotel, usually located in a fashionable location in the city’s urban district.

There is no strict definition when it comes to describing boutique hotels. However, they usually showcase common features that give a distinct characteristic to these types of properties.

Compared to regular hotels, boutique hotels are generally smaller, more intimate, and usually feature a strong artistic sense and focus on design. Also, luxury hotels are not equal to Boutique hotels. They are different. I wrote a special article on things you need to know before booking a luxury or boutique hotel.

Moreover, its appeal lies to its promising services, Instagram-worthy spots, and decors, as well as its location.

This type of property is usually found in city centers and other fashionable districts that feature a great sense of that city’s culture.

Read: The worlds best boutique hotels on Instagram

G-Rough Rome Apartment Penthouse Terrace

A history of boutique hotels

During the 40s and the 50s, chain hotels were quickly multiplying. Thus, dominating the market by opening franchises in different cities.

The likes of Marriott, Holiday Inn, and Hilton came to rise during this era. While chains were flourishing, other hotels are wanting to stand out from the rest, exploring new and innovative services to guests to create that one-of-a-kind feel.

One notable example is Westin, the hotel that offered the first 24-hour room service.

Other examples are Ocean Drive on Miami Beach, as well as the Beacon Hotel, and the Century Hotel. They explored new designs, played with food and beverage offerings, and paid a lot of attention to how they can better their service and differentiate themselves from bigger hotel chains.

Despite these attempts to create unique hotels, this trend was not picked up in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cookie-cutter hotels started to pop up more often, reproducing the same style no matter where they go. During this era, hotels were seen as “stiff“. Focused only on providing the usual services rather than exploring innovation.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the industry saw the surge of the boutique hotels.

And then it started from major cities such as New York City, San Francisco, and London.

Furthermore, originally coined by Steve Rubell to describe Morgans Hotel as his first hotel with Ian Schrager, this term revolutionized the hotel industry, creating a trend that’s now observed all over the world.

This has continued until today, where hotel chains are now even investing to create sub-brands that would cater to fans of boutique hotels.

On the other hand, this goes to show that this segment in the industry has truly flourished, and it will not go away anytime soon.

The Soho Hotel London - Boutique Hotel - Living Space - One Bedroom Suite

6 Boutique Hotel Requirements

There are no strict requirements when it comes to creating boutique hotels.

However, most hotels follow some guidelines that help them fall into this category.

While these are not all heavily followed, these are observed most of the time and can be seen almost everywhere.

Here are some of boutique hotel’s most noticeable characteristics:

  1. Smaller in Size
  2. Unique in character
  3. Gives a lot of attention to design
  4. Located in fashionable areas
  5. Personalized Services
  6. Great selection of things to do

Now, let us go into detail on these requirements.

1. Smaller in size

Boutique hotels are usually small in size, anywhere around 10 to 100 rooms (max 150 rooms). Plus, there are also suites available on the property.

Also, they are usually more intimate compared to other hotels, making its service more personal than ever.

Nevertheless, many outstanding boutique hotels have less than 30 rooms.

How about an example? The Villa Spalletti Trivelli for instance offers just 14 rooms. It is one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Rome Italy. Have a look at their beautiful roof top terrace.

Villa Spalletti Trivelli Rome Rooftop Hot Tubs

2. Unique in character

Boutique hotels usually strive to create a distinct characteristic in their space.

Even if they are a part of a hotel chain, they make sure to veer away from providing a ‘cookie-cutter’ accommodation to their guests.

Not to mention, most boutique hotels operate independently, although bigger chains are also starting to invest in creating their own.

Let us have a look at NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci. This is not an independent hotel, the NH Hotels is a chain. Yet, this is a very special hotel with unique character. Can you guess why? Personally, I would love to sit at this balcony with a fresh espresso in my hand.

Here you find all the top boutique hotels in Venice Italy.

NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci Junior Suite Grand Canal Terrace

3. Gives a lot of attention to design

The design is one of the easiest ways to create unique characteristics. That is why most boutique hotels really give attention to perfecting even the smallest details of their space.

Usually, they combine interesting architecture, artistic furnishings, as well as playing through decors to create a character.

Sometimes they also play with themes that run throughout the hotel — whether it be quirky details like that of Hotel Not Hotel in Amsterdam or everything Belle Epoque inspired to the likes of Maison Souquet in Paris.

On the other hand, while there are a handful of boutique hotels offering out of this world themed spaces, the typical design that most follow are contemporary, chic, and stylish vibe mixed with some personality.

4. Located in fashionable areas

As I have mentioned, there are no hard rules when it comes to creating a boutique hotel.

However, most are usually found in fashionable areas, in the heart of the city’s cultural spots.

While some can be found along the busy streets, and others may be located in the back alley, or sometimes even in residential areas. But still, they are easily accessible to the city.

At the same time, while it easily differs from one hotel to another, one thing is for sure: they prioritize providing an easy option to go to some of the best cultural and artistic spots.

Also, they also aim to be a great jump-off point to explore the rest of the city.

I know you would love another example. Here we go. This is the view from a double luxury room at W Hotel, one of the top luxury hotels in Barcelona.

Best Boutique Hotels in Barcelona, Spain

5. Personalized Services

Since most boutique hotels are smaller, they are also able to provide more personalized service to their guests.

On a special note, some may offer bespoke amenities, while others may provide an extensive guide on the area depending on your preference.

No matter how they do it, they make sure to work the extra mile to give you a great time during your stay. Yet another example comes from beautiful Venice. This is Hotel Londra Palace. Hotel Londra Palace opened its doors to the world in 1853. Since then, it has hosted a number of notable guests. They organize for their guests personalized  Gondola Rides as well as hosting events, concerts and even book presentations.

Hotel Londra Palace Venice - Boutique Hotel - Junior Terraza Balcony

6. Great selection of things to do

Boutique hotels are usually an extension of celebrating the city. Mainly on these three:

  • culture,
  • art, and
  • food.

Most often than not, these hotels make sure to incorporate details of their city through what they offer and serve to their guests.

Whether it be highlighting local artists or serving locally sourced ingredients, these factors are always ingrained in boutique hotels. Making them more appealing than ever to travelers who want to experience a place as authentic as they can possibly get.

The Design of Boutique Hotels

While there are no strict rules that a boutique hotel should be stylish and fashionable, this is usually one of their most distinctive characteristics.

Their attention to detail and how they give a lot of importance to design comes from the desire of boutique hotels to be unique.

As a way to be one-of-a-kind, most boutique hotels employ their knowledge in design and culture to create a distinguished personality for their spaces.

Besides, boutique hotels generally have a contemporary, chic and stylish vibe.

They lean towards providing elegance and luxury without going overboard with their prices.

On the other hand, rooms are also individually decorated most of the time and follow artistic and style-forward decor. They also try to have their own character and try to be distinctive and different amongst other hotels in the industry.

One of my most memorable luxury hotels experience comes from and with Coco-Mat Hotel Athens. Just by walk-passing the building, you will be impressed.

Difference between Boutique Hotel and a “regular” Hotel

While boutique hotels are still technically a “hotel”, there are still a lot of differences when you compare it to a traditional hotel chain.

For one, as I have mentioned, they give the utmost priority in creating their own personality and character.

Unlike most hotels that don’t mind having the same style of accommodation, boutique hotels do their best to stand out and give their guests a one-of-a-kind stay. Usually resulting in eccentric and eclectic choices.

Moreover, traditional hotels usually rely on providing incredibly luxurious amenities to their guests to create a one-of-a-kind experience; while boutique hotels focus on curating services and offerings to make that experience mark for their guests.

There is also a huge difference when it comes to the market that they serve.

Compared to traditional hotels that cater to the general public, boutique hotels are usually leaning towards travelers who are into “hip” and “stylish” things.

Their guests usually range from millennial to baby boomers who enjoy a creative and Instagram-worthy space.

They also usually cater to middle-class travelers who would like to enjoy the privacy and luxury of staying a hotel without splurging too much. And the price tends to differ depending on the hotel’s location and amenities.

The photo shows Praktik Bakery, one of the best boutique hotels in Barcelona, Spain.

Hotel Praktik Vinoteca - Barcelona - Boutique Hotel - Family Room

What is a boutique hotel on Hotwire?

The website “Hotwire.com” is a kind of Groupon for accommodations. Interestingly, they claim you can get discounts of up to 60%.

In terms of accommodation, Hot Wire lists everything from High-End Luxury Resorts to small Bed and Breakfasts. The website is very popular since the discounts are real.

How are the discounts at Hot Wire possible?

It is a simple business strategy.

Hotel suppliers offer their unsold rooms at discounted rates on Hotwire. After all, before the beds or rooms stays empty, the hotel prefers to fill the rooms at a discounted rate.

However, here is the catch. When booking with Hot Wire, you are booking a specific offer and not a specific hotel. The actual name of the hotel is withheld until after the booking is confirmed.

Good to know: And do take note that the reservations are non-refundable.

Bookings made through Hot Wire are final and cannot be canceled, refunded, exchanged, transferred, or changed.

And this is where the Boutique Hotels come in.

However, there has been complaining by customers specifically booking claimed Boutique Hotels. Hot Wire advertised the hotel as a boutique-style, yet the quality did not meet the expectation for many users.

Boutique Hotel List

Here at Les Boutique Hotels, we made sure that it would be easier for you to find the perfect boutique hotel that you are looking for.

We created easy guides to help you match what you need to what they offer. You can check out our lists for

You can also browse through our extensive list of hotels wherever in the world you may go.

Best Roof Top Terrace in Athens with Acropolis View: Coco Mat Hotel

How to find Boutique Hotels?

Boutique hotels, while they fall into a different category, can be easily found through major platforms like Booking.com, Agoda, or Tripadvisor.

Read: How to use Booking.com to get special deals

They are usually listed together with most hotels and might be a little tricky to find as these platforms do not have a separate category for boutique hotels.

You can also browse through our listings of the world’s best boutique hotels and read through our articles to find that perfect boutique hotel for you.

Websites about Boutique Hotels

There are a handful of blogs that features boutique hotels that they stayed at. And also other publications such as Telegraph and Conde Nast give a more extensive review and critic of these hotels.

However, if you are looking for boutique hotels, we also recommend that you browse Les Boutique Hotels as we have a great selection of boutique hotels from all over the world, handpicked just for you. We also list down amenities and other details that you might need for your trip.

Other great websites about Boutique Hotels are:

Boutique Hotels in Japan

Are you planning to travel to Japan? Read this carefully, this section is for you.

One major reason is that Boutique Hotels in Japan has a different definition.

Boutique Hotels” in Japan can mean romantic hotels for couples to spend a few hours. Hence, it does not necessarily mean stylish, unique accommodation.

So please do pay attention to this detail. You might fall for the wrong accommodation.

Alternatively,  here are names for so-called “love hotels” which are “romance hotel”, “fashion hotel”, “leisure hotel”, “amusement hotel”, “couples hotel”, and, as mentioned “boutique hotel”.

Later on, this information will come handy when you explore Japan.


What is the difference between a boutique hotel and a regular hotel?

Boutique hotel offers a more luxurious experience to guests compared to regular hotel. They are unique, stylish, and they focus on giving comfort and quiet. Guests prefer boutique hotel because they give the best hotel experience.

What makes a good boutique hotel?

A good boutique hotel has a good location, unique style, top-notch service, and restaurant.

What do boutique hotels offer?

They offer upscale accommodations and superb service. Expect only the best hospitality and care from their staff who go above and beyond to ensure satisfaction of every guests.

How big is a boutique hotel?

Boutique hotel typically has 10 to 100 rooms but all of them has their own big and unique personality.

Summary: What is a Boutique Hotel?

Boutique hotels are small, chic hotels that are usually located in fashionable districts in most cities.

Compared to traditional hotels, boutique hotels focus on their individuality and creating their own character — crafting that by giving great attention to design and details, as well as curating personalized experiences for their guests.

While there are no strict rules that these hotels abide, they follow some sort of guidelines that is easy to spot and are usually present in most boutique hotels. They are usually:

  1. Smaller in size
  2. Unique in character
  3. Gives a lot of attention to design
  4. Located in fashionable areas
  5. Offers personalized services
  6. Offers a great selection of activities and things to do

All in all, boutique hotels are created for the hip traveler — those who would like to make the most out of their stay, get in touch to the place’s culture, art, and food scene, and most especially experience great service and comfortable accommodation without having to splurge too much.

Ready to go? Then make sure you check all our luxury boutique hotel guides here.

We also wrote a perfect packing list for staying in Boutique Hotels. Make sure you read and download our free PDF with it.

Any questions?

This was a big guide already. We hope this guide about what is a boutique hotel was useful.

Do you have any questions left? Please drop us a comment below.

We would be thrilled to hear your comments and questions, so please do not be shy, type in your question and we will get back to you as soon as time allows.

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What is a Boutique Hotel? 6 Requirements and How to Find Beautiful Hotels

About Giulietta

I love to travel and I love design. Consequently, I always stay in unique and memorable places. From New York City to Bali, the world is dotted with beautiful hotels. Here on LesBoutiqueHotels I share all my experiences with Boutique-Style Hotels.

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