They call it a boutique hotel and it is not
If you have stayed in a boutique hotel in the last ten years there is a good chance that you have not really done it. A hotel that calls itself that way has 50 percent options that it isn't. But how to refuse to use that name, so desirable, so French, so ... boutique?
Boutique hotels were born in the United States in the early 1990s in reaction to the big hotel chains. Where there was impersonality, they promised personality, where there was uniformity, they secured personalization, where there were guests, they wanted guests. Part of the responsibility for this trend lies with Ian Schrager. This man was removed from the palm in 1990 the Paramount, in New York and broke the market. It was a hotel with many rooms but small (maybe too much, Ian), with a very contemporary aesthetic (read Starck) and that challenged the Hilton, Sheraton and company. A hotel that was not aimed at everyone, but was aimed at many. A place where the lobby gained prominence and opened to the city.
The problem, because this is a problem, is that everyone wanted to have their boutique hotel. And we all wanted to sleep in one. That made us evolved travelers, with no trace of dandruff. But, ah, the expected happened. Boutique hotels in some cases dawned and many became adulterated. The word eroded from so much handling, as happened to others such as spa, lodge or lounge. And the search for the authentic boutique hotel specimen began.
How to distinguish it? Such a hotel balances and integrates the tangible and the intangible. They connect with the aesthetics of the moment: In the 90's it was Starck and now it plays vintage, eclecticism. They were born being urban but each time there are more that they are not, as in country and beach destinations. And, important fact, promote the idea of intimacy. It is not an easy task. Some imitate well. These are some clues to avoid disappointment, one of the traveler's great enemies.
- A boutique hotel is NOT (always) a small hotel. Just as a small store is not a boutique. Santa Eulalia is a boutique and has three floors. Size does not matter. The important thing is the emotional and contextual wrap they have. And this brings us to point 2.
- A boutique hotel has personality. Personality is not something that is possessed because it is said: it is something that is displayed and, then, is counted. Or you don't even have to tell it: you have and enjoy the high that it gives. The personality is partly planned and partly generated by what happens between its walls. They each have their own, the Waterhouse at South Bund in Shanghai or the Townhouse in Miami or Number 16 in London. Boutique hotels they are soaked in the character of the one who thinks and moves them: either an interior designer, India Mahdavi, for example, or a manager, like Schrager himself. Or they can revolve around a theme, art or wine, for example, but they don't have to. Originality is overrated.
- There is a fine line that separates the boutique hotel from the deluxe bed and breakfast. For example, what is Rough Luxe? The controversy is served. In any case, we like it.
- Placing a classic piece of 20th-century furniture does not make you a boutique hotel. And even less if it is not original. If you can't have the Jacobsen Swan or a Poulsen lamp, nothing happens, but don't buy imitations. That causes infinite sadness. Poor Le Corbusier is not to blame for his spirit around certain hotels in original or false version. However, these icons are recurring in boutique hotels. For example, Singapore 129 uses them and does it well. If not, Ikea can solve the ballot well. A boutique hotel is not complexed or apologizes for any aesthetic decision.
- "How was the room? Cool?" Do not. Not that. The boutique hotel staff does not treat the customer as if from their high school gang. The management of distance, that great secret of human relations, here has to be careful to the millimeter, as in all hotels. Closeness, humanity and respect. That serves almost everything.
- A boutique hotel promotes luxury, on a smaller or larger scale. It is a luxury related to the aspirational, not with the butlers, with aesthetic comfort and location, with making the guest feel part of a community. However, a luxury hotel does not have to be a boutique hotel. The Georges V of Paris or the Dolder Grand of Zurich are not. No need to do them.
- A dark reception, having apples in the lobby or jugs with orange water, that the sofas have a huge backrest, faucets of lethal angles and that the walls are black does not make you, as if you were touching a magic wand in a hotel boutique You see, how can we explain it to you: that title is not achieved with decorative tics. It is a decision that is in the foundations and that, then, is given or not. It's like love, half controllable will, half uncontrollable emotion