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Monday, 10 December 2012

What are Boutique hotels? And what makes them different from the rest?

The latest thing in hospitality seems to be the boutique hotels popping up in London and all over the country. There is no shame in admitting that you’re not 100%  sure what the real meaning of the term 'boutique' in this context is, or why in fact this term is used in connection with certain hotels and not others and of course the main question is: what are the benefits of staying in these types of hotels? 

London is filled with huge and anonymous hotels so one major benefit from these so called ‘boutique’ hotels is that they are smaller - the idea being that a higher level of service is provided with the fewer rooms they have. As per the enthusiasts of this business, a hotel with no more than 100 rooms can proudly be called a boutique hotel. It undoubtedly adds a sense of luxury and indulgence to a stay when there is the space to provide a more personal experience.

Boutique hotels often have a unique theme – this can be outlandish and general to the whole hotel (for example, a specific time period, bold colour scheme or motif) or added in more modest touches (with original artwork, designer toiletries or natural materials).

Another key characteristic is the intimacy of the hotel and how this atmosphere is achieved. To qualify as a boutique hotel, particularly in London where there is such competition, the d├ęcor needs to be of a very high quality – whether contemporary or elegantly classic, there needs to be an attention to detail and unquestionable authenticity. The ambience should be spot on - an oasis in the heart of London – and, as previously mentioned, it needs to offer a level of personal service that is virtually unachievable in large chain hotels.

Essentially, this comes from the staff themselves who, through a pro-active attitude, can elevate the experience of all patrons - when staying in a boutique London hotel, guests will expect the service to be faultless as a given but the expectation is also that the staff should know, in advance, their requirements as opposed to merely responding to them when asked.

And, although it is true that to feel like a boutique hotel the service should be more personal, it is imperative when operating in major cities and or business districts that everything is still handled professionally. In terms of familiarity it is important to know the line.