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What makes a hotel a boutique hotel?

While it is not a specific hotel category, a boutique hotel can be defined by its characteristics:

  • Size: Small and compact with 10 to 100 rooms, with sense of intimacy and privacy

  • Individuality: Has to be unique with a personality

  • Design: Architecture and interior design are unique and upscale. Décor, aesthetics and attention to detail, often a theme is typical for a boutique hotel.

  • Character: Has an independent spirit. Fun and funky, trendy and offbeat.

  • Location: Usually located in the most hip and fashionable urban areas. In trendy, lively, up-and-coming places or in high-end residential neighbourhoods.

  • Culture: True to their heritage they celebrate the local flavour.

  • Service: Exceptional and highly personalized service is crucial for boutique hotels.

  • Gastronomy: Hip, trendy and locally sourced. High quality, authentic cuisine

  • Clientele: Is individual and hip as the hotels themselves. From Baby-Boomers to Millennials. They are smart, fashionable and chic.

It’s a trend and most hotels that are small these days seems to label itself a boutique hotel.

But what does this term truly mean? Leaving all the hype aside, what is a boutique hotel?

A boutique hotel is a small hotel which typically has between 10 and 100 rooms in unique settings with upscale accommodations and individualised unique selling points (USPs).

Contrasting the open-to-interpretation meaning of a “luxury hotel”, the classification of a boutique hotel is reasonably quite clear.

Essential Characteristics of a Boutique Hotel

For the most part hospitality professionals agree that for a hotel to be considered a boutique hotel, it should not be much bigger than 100 rooms.

If it's under 10 rooms, it's not a boutique hotel but a Bed and Breakfast.

A boutique hotel is strong in character and personality. A boutique hotel's intimate size allows easier five-star hospitality service and lends to an exciting ambiance.

A boutique hotel strives to be distinctive and unique in its character. This is crucial to its success.

Whether it's independently owned or a member of a luxury hotel chain, it has a definite independent way of thinking and works relentlessly to not feel like a corporate hotel.

A boutique hotel may also be mysteriously hidden inside a larger hotel. The boutique section will feel distinctive and has its own reception desk, lobby, and style.

A boutique hotel's customers are different, too, boutique hotels appealing to guests who shy away from mass produced décor and business hotels.

It has a contemporary ambiance and a quirky, modern personality. Boutique hotels are not old-fashioned or formal. Their décor is typically modern and often cutting-edge. It's rich in local flavour. Often, the small size of an urban boutique hotel affords it a stylish, central location in the heart of town, and its energetic ambiance suits its lively setting. You'll find boutique hotels in fashionable resort towns, too. But whether urban or rural, a worthy boutique hotel reminds you of where you are in the world. It projects a strong sense of place and reveals in its local heritage.

A boutique hotel puts its heart and soul into providing quality food and beverages. You can rely on a boutique hotel to boast a wonderful restaurant and bar that draws in the crowd. The hotel's restaurant is sometimes managed by a celebrity chef.

A boutique hotel often boasts a stylish bar or lounge with a fancy cocktail menu and local quality wines.

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