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, and you don’t have the budget to splurge for 5-star hotels. Boutique hotels are somewhere in the middle, offering good 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.

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 cover:

Hotel Eden - Rome, Italy - Boutique Hotel - Prestige Double Room

Meaning of Boutique

The word “boutique” literally means “a small, sophisticated, and fashionable business or establishment“.

This would be the simple answer to what is a boutique hotel.

This simply means that a boutique hotel is just that — 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 features a strong artistic sense and focus on design.

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

Hotel De Russie Rome - Boutique Hotel - Executive Double or Twin

A history of boutique hotels

During the 40s and the 50s, chain hotels were quickly multiplying, 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 are 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 Dive 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 on 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“. They just focused on providing the usual services rather than exploring innovation.

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

It started from major cities such as New York, San Francisco, and London.

Originally coined by Steve Rubell to describe Morgans Hotel, 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.

This goes to show that this segment in the industry has truly flourished, and it wouldn’t 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) and suites available in the property.

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

Many outstanding boutique hotels have less than 30 rooms.

G-Rough Rome - Boutique Hotel -One Bedroom Apartment - Living Space

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. Most boutique hotels operate independently, although bigger chains are also starting to invest in creating their own.

Hôtel des Grands Boulevards Paris - Boutique Hotel - Terrace Lounge Area

3. Gives a lot of attention to design

The design is one of the easiest ways to create unique characteristics, that’s why most boutique hotels really give attention to perfecting even the littlest details of their space.

They usually combine interesting architecture, artistic furnishings, as well as playing through decors to create a character. They also sometimes play with themes that they 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.

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.

Hotel Mathis Paris - Boutique Hotel - Salon

4. Located in fashionable areas

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.

Some can be found along the busy streets, while others may be located in the back alley, or even in residential areas, but still easily accessible to the city. 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.

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

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.

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.

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’s

  • 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 to 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.

Boutique hotels generally have a contemporary, chic and stylish vibe.

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

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 be distinctive and individual amongst other hotels in the industry.

The Ritz Paris - Boutique Hotel - Club Pool

Difference between Boutique Hotel and “regular” Hotel

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

For one, they give utmost priority in creating their own personality and character.

Unlike most hotels that don’t mind having a cookie cutter 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.

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

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

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

Their guests usually range from millennials to baby boomers who enjoy a creative space.

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

Hotel Praktik Vinoteca - Barcelona - Boutique Hotel - Family Room

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

What is a boutique hotel on Hotwire?

The website “Hotwire.com” is a kind of Groupon for accommodations. 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 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 on a discounted rate.

However, and 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 withhold until after the booking is confirmed.

Good to know: The reservations are non-refundable.

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

And this is where the Boutique Hotels come in.

There has been complains 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

best boutique hotels in London

best boutique hotels in Paris,

and finally the top boutique hotels in Amsterdam here.

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

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.

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 worlds 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 other publications such as Telegraph and Conde Nast give a more extensive review and critic of these hotels.

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? Then this section is for you; and you should read it carefully.

Because a Boutique Hotel in Japan has a different meaning.

Boutique Hotels” in Japan can mean romantic hotels for couples to spend a few hours. It does not necessarily mean a stylish, unique accommodation. Please pay attention to this detail.

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

This information will come handy when you explore Japan.

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 guideline that are 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.

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

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