There are run-me-down highway-side motels, and there are the Hyatts and the Sheratons. But the age of Pinterest and visual aesthetics has brought forth another form of residence, boutique hotels. So what are these miniature, stylish places, and when did they come into being?
The first boutique hotels started spouting up in the late 20th century in world metropolises, little hubs of fashion-forward or retro design that offered their guests an intimate, comfortable setting, as opposed to the “heartlessness” of up-scale franchise hotels. The word “boutique” comes from this comparison: mom-and-pop store boutiques, as opposed to corporate “department store” hotels.
The description of a boutique hotel begins with its location. Most often, they are repurposed older buildings. Busy city centers comprise of old buildings of great real estate value. While the more convenient structures meant for businesses are already taken and operational, future boutique hotel operators have the advantage of choosing unlikely buildings for themselves (e.g. old factories). Any structural irregularities that would turn down a customer looking for practicality over style can be perceived only as benefits and opportunities in boutique terms. The odd layout and antique construction materials are appealing elements to urban hipsters, and the most common boutique hotel visitors themselves.
The small scale setting is meant to inspire a one-of-a-kind experience. None of the structure’s details have been selected for their price or availability. Matching details to create a specific environment that maintains its consistency throughout is the sole purpose of every object in a boutique hotel. This experience is aimed at fulfilling the aesthetic fantasies of a very particular clientele. This could be young travelers, travelers with pets, business travelers, or according to the experiences of Randwick accommodation, visiting professors near universities. In order to cater to their crowd, boutique hotels will focus on selecting an appealing color scheme, materials, lighting, smells and sounds, and a service time schedule appropriate for its guests. The rooms differ among each other to varying extent. They are rooms advertised by their irregularities – with no two rooms alike, one may be presented as “a room with easy garden approach” and another with “a room with a view”. Boutique hotel owners take great liberties with creating value in their assets.
The personalized approach to guests that boutique hotels partake in is also apparent in their own physical shape. Each hotel is unique, and each similarity to another boutique hotel is purely coincidental. Travelers treat this state of individualism as an advantage, making the most of the variety of accommodation in any touristy town. With the blossoming of design as an art, the hotel industry has now added hostels, rented apartments, eco hotels and boutique hotels to their offer, making travel more appealing to people who have shied away from franchise hotels when they were all the rage. In general, architecture has become a more easily accessible form of expression, and why shouldn’t it become a leitmotif in other, unexpected areas of life. After all, travel has always been closely related to the architectural wonders of the world around us, so why not bring the style to the hotel you are staying in?