Boutique hotels are an increasingly popular choice among travelers. Also called lifestyle hotels or “design hotels”, these hotels offer unique one-of-a-kind accommodations that appeal to travelers who are tired of staying in the same cookie-cutter hotels that are available around the world. There are many different types of boutique hotels in nearly every location that you can imagine. Staying in them has pros and cons compared to other lodging options that should be taken into consideration if it’s your first time staying in a boutique hotel.
Benefits of Boutique Hotels
There are a lot of great reasons that people want to stay in boutique hotels. They include:
- Creative and artistic living space. Boutique hotels often have furnishings and décor that are unique from anything you’ve ever experienced. This can range from high-end luxury décor to quirky, artsy and funky décor. Many boutique hotels are themed around art or design. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy accommodations that you may not otherwise experience in your life.
- Personalized service. Boutique hotels are much more likely than traditional chain hotels to offer highly personalized service and a customized experience. This is due in part to the fact that these hotels are small hotels with fewer guests than large accommodations. This, of course, varies from place to place.
- Location. Because boutique hotels are smaller they are often able to be built in city centers where there isn’t a lot of large space available to create big hotels. This can mean that the boutique hotel has a better location in some cities than other hotels do.
- Supporting the small local business. There are boutique hotels that are operated by bigger chains and companies but many of them are mom-and-pop style hotels. It’s nice to support these places as a visitor when you can.
- Cost. In some cases boutique hotels offer very low prices comparable to hostels and budget hotels. This varies widely depending on the hotel, though.
Drawbacks of Boutique Hotels
Although there are many great boutique hotels, there are also drawbacks to the boutique hotel. Consider some of these before planning your stay:
- No brand name to offer comfort. Some people feel wary about staying in a hotel that they know nothing about except what reviews online may say. That’s why people stay in chain hotels; they know what to expect. The fact that boutique hotels are often one-off hotels means that you don’t have this sense of comfort before your stay.
- Fewer rooms available. This means that it’s often important to book your hotel stay far in advance when choosing a popular boutique hotel. It also means that this isn’t usually a good choice for large groups traveling together.
- Fewer business amenities. It’s often the case that boutique hotels are set up to accommodate business travelers who need fax machines, conference rooms, etc. during their stay. These hotels are better for personal travel.
- Cost. In some cases boutique hotels are among the most expensive hotel options in an area. Again, this varies widely. Note that these hotels generally don’t offer loyalty programs like chain hotels do so you also can’t earn rewards like free stays.
Tips for Choosing a Boutique Hotel
To get the best balance of the pros and cons of boutique hotels, follow these tips:
- Choose a boutique hotel that is part of a larger chain. For example the Starwood W Hotels and the Kimpton Hotels are chains of boutique hotels. They have the uniqueness and creativity of the boutique hotel combined with the familiarity of a brand name hotel.
- Look carefully at costs to find a boutique hotel in your budget. Since the prices can vary so widely you need to really pay attention to what the prices are at these places, how they compare to other hotels in the area and what you get for your money.
- Read the features carefully. Chain hotels offer standard features and amenities in all of their hotels. You never know what you’re going to get at a boutique hotel; it can range from few extra amenities to more luxury than you’ve ever experienced. Read about what’s available carefully before you book a hotel.
- Rely on word of mouth. Ask people that you know for recommendations about good boutique hotels. Read reviews (with a critical eye) from people who have stayed at the hotels that you’re considering.