What is a boutique hotel?

October 22, 2020

Many people ask what the differences are between choosing to stay in a well-known international chain hotel or opting to spend a well-earned break in small and friendly hotels instead. There are many possible answers, ranging from size and individual design to personalised service and world-class gastronomy.

Casa Howard in the centre of Florence, ItalySo, exactly what is a boutique hotel and why should you choose to stay in small and friendly hotels next time you travel?

What is a boutique hotel? A Luxurious Home away from Home

The boutique hotel is a luxurious home away from home – a place where high standards prevail, where décor is lovingly designed by local creatives and food sustainably sourced from local farmers, fishermen and markets. Boutique hotels don’t just offer a building with rooms – there’s an inspiration, a dream to fulfil and an entire backstory behind it.

For proprietors of these small and friendly hotels, their venture isn’t just about profit. It’s about creating the ultimate guest experience. Individually-styled suites, chic facilities, stylish communal areas, innovative menus which cater to specific dietary requirements and unique VIP excursions to places only locals know.

With 5-star hotel services and so many benefits of staying in a small hotel, you will be spoiled for choice as to where to stay first!

Artemisia boutique hotel, in Corsica (France)

Where to find these small and friendly hotels?

Boutique hotels have been around since the 1980’s, and although initially found in urban settings, today, these design-driven boltholes are everywhere – on beaches, in the countryside, in ski resorts and even tucked away inside larger cities!

Boutique hotels are typically small, friendly establishments with between 10 and 100 guest suites and the designs of each one are individual, never standardised.

In Morocco or Tunisia, for example, boutique hotels may be nestled inside historic buildings. You may already know about famous Marrakesh Riads with their tiled patios and rooms surrounding a pretty garden courtyard.

Riad Dar One, Marrakech

In countries such as Italy, Greece and France, you may discover agritourism hotels – chic, contemporary rural abodes, sustainably run, with organic herb and vegetable gardens and solar heating. These eco-friendly hotels are situated in fashionable residential areas of popular beach towns. The buildings are usually in keeping with the local landscape and decorated with signature furnishings and artworks created by local talent.

Finally, there are urban boutique hotels, found in characterful buildings in hip districts close to major city tourist attractions. These chic small hotels are popular for weekend and cultural mid-week breaks and usually feature trendy restaurants and fabulous views of the city skyline!

ELaiolithos Luxury Retreat, in Naxos island, Greece

Architecture and Inspiration

Décor plays a huge role in creating a boutique hotel’s luxe ambience and ensuring the design fits the mood and location is no easy task. So, where does the inspiration come from?

Many owners, architects and designers turn to local folklore tales, an architectural era or cultural theme to weave inspiring threads through sumptuous suites, lobbies and intimate dining areas. There’s a sense of pride that goes into choosing every roll of fabric, every lampshade, every piece of wood and every painting. In addition, many proprietors only work with designers and artisans who can bring a sense of regional awareness to space, whilst also giving back to creative craftspeople in the local area.

The Foundry Suites in Athens

Boutique hotels and their locally Sourced Cuisine

One of the many highlights of staying in a boutique hotel is the food. Not only do many small retreats offer specially curated, innovative menus for guests with specific dietary requirements, but most of them also source their ingredients within the area to help support nearby communities.

Accomplished chefs are all about sustainable food sourcing, with many focusing on farm-to-fork or ocean-to-table cuisine. They work with farmers, market stall vendors and fishermen to procure the freshest produce to create trendy, seasonal dishes to tantalise every guest’s palate.

Papaevangelou boutique hotel in Papigo, Northern Greece

Lots of rural boutique hotels also grow their own herbs and vegetables on-site or nearby, allowing chefs to reduce costs while still creating mouth-watering menus with the finest products available.

Small and friendly hotels with Five Star Services

Boutique hotels are renowned for their personalised high-end hotel services. From the moment you check-in, you are a name, not just a room number to the staff. They take time to learn what you like and enjoy, to curate a personalised, unforgettable experience whilst remaining discreet and allowing your privacy.

Mougins Luxury Retreats, France

A well-informed, intuitive hotel concierge can organise almost anything your heart desires, offering bespoke excursions and reservations at the best restaurants and tickets for the hottest nightclubs in town.

Whether you wish to enjoy a dreamy sunset cruise with a loved one, a helicopter ride to a vineyard, an after-hours tour of a private art gallery or a fun afternoon cooking class, they organise it all on your behalf to make life easy and stress-free.

Another benefit to staying in a small and friendly hotel is that the levels of service are the same during high season or when the hotel has greater room occupancy, ensuring your boutique hotel stay is everything you always hoped it would be, every single time you visit.