In general, we have low expectations of our hotels. As long as the room is decent and the food’s OK, we won’t complain. Boutique hotels hope to change that attitude.
Hotel rooms aren’t cheap, so what do we get for our money? In many cases, it’s not much. A reasonable room that’s clean, a bathroom that’s functional and food that’s often not as good as it should be. These hotels should now expect to come under pressure from the smaller, boutique sector, where space, design and cuisine are all important.
Unlike mainstream hotels, where every room in every hotel is the same, boutique hotels strive to create individuality through design. These hotels will usually be designed to a theme; in some places that theme will be obvious in the room names, the furnishings, the artwork and the finishing touches, and in others it might be very subtle, such as an Asian influence, or bringing the colours and textures of the landscape into the hotel.
Above all, it’s the attention to detail, comfort and style that differentiates a boutique room from other hotel rooms. Guests’ needs are carefully considered from start to finish, so there is often a range of exclusive toiletries in the bathroom which in turn is fitted with the latest shower or Jacuzzi bath. The room will be cleverly designed and functional so that there’s always somewhere to put your luggage, plenty of storage space and all the high-tech equipment you need to run your life during your stay. The superior levels of comfort and service at a boutique hotel is what makes it stand out.
Although not all boutique hotels have a fully-operational restaurant on their premises, many have understood that the guest who likes a well-designed room will also appreciate good food and wine. Integrating an excellent restaurant into a small hotel is difficult, but if it is properly planned and executed, it can be an additional benefit to guests as well as establishing a reputation for the hotel within the local community. For guests to be staying in the hotel where all the locals go to eat is a real marketing coup – whether it’s a funky city centre brasserie, or a formal restaurant in a rural retreat. Many boutique hotels focus on the standard of their food – freshly prepared breakfasts, light lunches or formal dinners – precisely because it contributes to the overall experience of staying in a small hotel.