What Is A Boutique Hotel

By Chris Linch

Boutique hotels began to appear in the UK and the USA in the early 1980s. Small (between six and fifty rooms) and independent, they were an alternative to big chains in cities like London, New York, and San Francisco. More recently, some chains have capitalized on the success of this model by operating smaller properties they market as boutique hotels.

Many boutique hotels are very luxurious. One of the luxuries they offer is highly personalized service. For one thing, with their higher staff-to-guest ratios compared with chain hotels, staff can be expected to remember your name, where you're from, and the purpose of your trip. In this more intimate "home from home" atmosphere, the traveler looking for something different, or even somewhat eccentric, will also enjoy highly personalized service.

The owners are usually your hosts in boutique hotels. Their goal is to be attentive to your needs and yet respectful of your privacy. They want you to feel at home, but exceptionally pampered. It is not always easy to achieve this in a hotel, and success depends on good design and use of space as well as the highest standards of service.

The public spaces of a hotel are important because they convey the hotel's character. All hotels endeavor to make their guests feel at home, and even large hotels underscore that aim in their public spaces. Creating a comfortable, homelike atmosphere may seem easier in a boutique hotel, but smallness calls for creativity in making the space functional as well as cozy.

The public areas in a boutique hotel should be arranged so that guests can enjoy individual space if they wish, yet without sacrificing the intimate, friendly atmosphere. The furniture should be comfortable enough to encourage guests to relax, with variations in lightening to accommodate different needs and functions. Boutique hotels tend to be less formal, and the design should emphasize the freer, more relaxed ambiance.

In a large hotel, one room is much like another. Sometimes the basic elements are identical throughout the chain: the bed, the closet, the bedside tables, and the en suite bath. It's the details that make a house a home, and the same is true of a boutique hotel. Your room might have unique antique furniture and high-quality linens and drapes. It might have a flat screen TV and internet access. The bathroom might have a custom design. Whatever the features, your room will not be quite like any other room in the hotel. - 30230

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