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What Makes a Hotel a Boutique Hotel?

Jul 19, 2008
The travel industry is huge and there are many huge organizations involved which own numerous hotels with one or more properties in most of the world's important cities such as London in Great Britain. However there are also a great many individuals and families who run small hotels, guest houses or other accommodation. It is often the case that many of us choose to stay in such accommodation rather than one of the well known, and rather more expensive, hotels which often seem very much the same whichever city you are in. Over the last few decades it has become common for accommodation to be advertised as a "boutique hotel" and this article examines exactly what it is that makes it "boutique".

As you may have gathered from the above paragraph boutique hotels are usually far more intimate than larger establishments. A boutique hotel is usually one which has a great deal of character offering something a little out of the ordinary. Originating in North America these types of hotels are often smaller, usually privately run, luxurious hotels offering a highly personalized service not often found in the, much larger, branded hotels and motels.

Roughly three decades ago the culture and style of society was rather different and many liked to fashion a specific lifestyle for themselves. More and more people began to demand hotel accommodation which would fit more closely to their chosen lifestyle. The hotels which where redesigned to meet this demand became known as design hotels or lifestyle hotels.

In 1984, the Morgans Hotel in New York opened, it was owned by Ian Schrager, a famous hotelier, who had commissioned Andre Putman to design it. Morgans Hotel, New York is credited as being the world's very first Boutique hotel. There are other boutique hotels which lay claim to being the first, such as San Francisco's hotel Vintage Court which opened in 1983. Vintage Court is part of the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group Inc. which has many boutique hotels.

While many of the large hotel chains have a distinctive corporate image to uphold, which often translates into their hotels being rather similar, boutique hotels are not so restricted. In fact such hotels more often aim to be as different as possible and many owners choose to design their hotel around a specific theme or style. If you are visiting the city of London and you appreciate the style of Spanish-Americans then you will find the Church Street Hotel very much to your liking. It's interiors are richly decorated in a Cubano style with matching art work and furnished in superb Colonialist furniture.

As the interest in boutique hotels developed rather rapidly with hotels appearing in many different styles it was a while before the larger chains began to realize the potential benefits of opening such hotels. As mentioned many of the major cities of the world have a growing number of boutique hotels and London certainly has it's fair share. Interestingly the hotel chain Best Western have entered the boutique hotel market with their Shaftesbury Kensington which is described as boutique and has all of the modern facilities you would expect from a Best Western hotel. Such actions have slightly blurred the previously accepted definition and there is now a little confusion around what is a true boutique hotel.

Of all the boutique hotels in London one of the most interesting addresses is that of the, Red Carnation, 41 Hotel which is situated opposite the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace. This five star boutique hotel is superbly placed within minutes of Buckingham palace itself, Pall Mall and other important London attractions. Staying at 41 Buckingham Palace Road, London, just has a certain ring to it when you tell friends where you stayed.

While the word boutique may well be used extensively now and there are usually many to choose from the very nature of them dictates that each will be considerably different than the other. They seem to be appearing virtually everywhere these days and there is even a boutique hotel on the Isle of Harris in the extremely remote Outer Hebrides. Now that you have a greater understanding of what makes a boutique a hotel boutique then you may wish to consider booking into one next time you visit somewhere new.
About the Author
Maybe you won't be staying in the Harris Hotel but you may want to book boutique hotels in London
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