What Makes Boutique Hotels Popular?

boutique_hotel_roomBoutique hotels are widely regarded as one of the most popular types of hotels. Far from the madding crowds of thousands of screaming holiday goers packed in like sardines, boutique hotels happily compete with large hotel chains and continue to fill their beds with guests year on year.

But what makes them so popular? What gives them the edge over large hotel chains? More importantly – does your hotel make the cut at being a boutique hotel?



To explain that, we have to delve into exactly makes a boutique hotel, boutique.


What does “boutique” mean for hotels?

It’s a curious adjective and an even more curious meaning. Does it’s small size make it boutique? If so, what stops a bed & breakfast being boutique? Could it simply mean stylish? Well, thanks to marketing efforts we’ve seen vast chains of hotels become stylish. So it can’t just be that.

If you’re a stickler for the English language, the Cambridge dictionary defines a boutique hotel as: 

“a small, stylish and fashionable hotel that is not part of a chain”

But in reality it’s far more than that. 

Boutique hotels go above and beyond the expected. Each hotel has its own unique character and their services must be top-tier standard. They offer an experience rather than a stay, often coupled with the location, traditions or themes that so diligently attract guests in the first place. 

In short, boutique hotels are small hotels that carve out their identity and a specific guest type. With extra amenities, thematic service or location and the experienced personal touch that only comes from experts – boutique hotels offer the most intimate and pleasurable stays available.

Where did Boutique Hotels Originate?

If we’re talking about hotels that offer unique experiences that tip the odds in their favour against their compsets, then that’s a tale as old as time. Coaching Inns  had an edge over their rivals if they offered goosedown pillows, stables large enough to accommodate teams of horses and were conveniently located.

Fast forward several centuries later and it was hotels offering electricity that became the extravagant choice for eager guests.

But boutique hotels as we know them only exist because of their opposing factor – hotel chains.


Now hotel chains are brilliant for a certain type of guest. Standardisation ensures that guests know what they are getting with each stay. For guests that travel from city to city they are an ideal choice since the experience will likely be the same in each one.

However, with hotel chains opening up in every city, the average hotel suffered. More guests in the chains meant fewer guests in the independents. In order to fix this, hotels focussed on their style and service.

This valid and effective switch made all the difference for the boutique hotels that did it properly. A focus on location, service and style suddenly became the must-have for holiday goers more interested in experiences rather than just a clean bed for the night.

What Categories Make Successful Boutique Hotels?

The issue with boutique hotel’s focus on uniqueness means that a strict set of defining characteristics is nigh-impossible to come by. But we can create a general set of rules that the majority of boutique hotels include.

Rooms Available

According to most definitions, a boutique hotel can have anywhere up to 100 rooms. While not a strict cut-off number at any means, keeping room numbers down is essential to providing the experience.

Too many guests at once can diminish the intimate service that guests receive during their stay. In fact, most boutique hotels maintain far less than 100 rooms in order to treat their guests like VIPs and not be overcrowded. It helps avoid overbooking as well!

An Identity Defined by Location

Location is everything.

Whether you’re a rural getaway spot, the trendiest accommodation in Soho or an historic location in Edinburgh, you will be defined by your location. If your hotel’s identity doesn’t gel with your location – you’re going to have some problems.hotel_location

Your hotel identity and location should complement each other as they each have a part to play in the type of guests you attract. If they work together, rather than against each other, you’ll be boutique, not boujee.

Incorporate the local foods, styles and history within part of your hotel identity. Build a hotel brand that is as much a part of the location as the location is within the hotel brand.

It pays off.

Be Local-Friendly

Locals are your friends – powerful ones.

Not only will your staff likely be drawn from local residents, but the surrounding community is both a valuable source of income and advertising. Is your hotel bar a watering-hole for the locals? They can absolutely help offset your off-seasons by providing well needed income.

On top of that, guests are almost guaranteed to come into contact with the local population. 

So what would you like your guests to hear from the locals?


Positive relationships with locals can make your guests feel right at home, or incredibly uneasy. An awkward conversation outside your hotel can put a dampener on a guest’s spirits and decrease the magic of their stay. 

Successful boutique hotels always require excellent local relations to provide a comprehensive, magical experience for their guests.

One of a Kind

Boutique hotels are like people. They are a carefully cultivated, rich landscape of characteristics. While some may have more in common than others, each individual one has its own personal identity that is completely unique!

This standalone experience is the real key to being a boutique hotel. What you have to offer can’t be found anywhere else at all.

No chains, no bland standardisation for your hotel. Just one-of-a-kind beauty and satisfaction that can only be experienced by booking with you.

Social Media Friendly

As the brand of your hotel evolves, so too does your hotel’s voice. That means that you are easy to contact of course, but just as importantly:

Your hotel is instagrammable!

Yes, we know that this has no reflection on the services you offer, the professionalism with which you receive guests or any other part of the guest stay.

But it is a priceless form of hotel marketing for boutique hotels.hotel_instagram_marketing

A majestic lobby, perhaps some kitsch furniture in the rooms, or careful gardening around the entrances / gardens can make all the difference. In an age of Social Media Marketing the right picture or video can rack up hundreds of thousands of views, likes, comments, hearts etc.

If a guest posts the picture or video and geotags your hotel location… well wouldn’t a social media friendly boutique hotel jump at the chance to interact with that?

Can Hotels become Boutique?

Well if the physical necessities are in place – absolutely!

Obviously if you are in need of a hotel rebrand or physical alterations, then those will need the attention first. The downside would be that you are essentially closing your hotel and reopening a brand new boutique hotel. The upside would be that anything is possible for your hotel’s identity!

If you think that you already have all the basics of a boutique hotel but your rooms aren’t being filled, hotel_marketing_auditthen it could be your hotel marketing strategy that’s the problem. 

While there are a thousand issues that could be in your way, for every problem there is a solution. Schedule a free 30-minute meeting with one of our specialists to learn more. We can analyse your hotel’s online presence and outline how to fix the issues in a completely cost-free audit.

Fix your hotel marketing issues today and get in touch! Make sure to stay up to date with our variety of blogs dedicated to hotels, marketing and everything in between.

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