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Economic development committee

Boutique Hotels

April 11, 2018

What Are the Characteristics of Boutique Hotels?

“Boutique hotels are characterized by their intimate atmosphere and idiosyncratic style. They distinguish themselves from larger chain hotels by offering personalized attention and styled accommodations which play on a motif.” – USA Today

  • A Boutique Hotel Is an Independent Hotel (or Feels Like One)
  • A boutique hotel has an independent attitude and works hard to not feel like a corporate hotel.
  • A Boutique Hotel Strives to Be One-of-a-Kind
  • A Boutique Hotel is Not Generic, Blah, or bland
  • A Good Boutique Hotel Reminds You of Where You Are
  • A Boutique Hotel Offers Ultra-Personal Service

While there is no strict definition of a boutique hotel, the genre does tend to have some common features. Here are nine characteristics of boutique hotels:

The Library Lounge, Esprit Saint Germain, Paris – recommended by Josée Covington, President & CEO of Covington. Image credit: Hotel Saint Germain

Size – Boutique hotels are typically small, with 10 to 100 rooms. They are intimate in scale, creating the ambiance of being a personal guest in a private home, rather than just a hotel occupant. They often have communal “living spaces” where guests can interact.

Individuality – Properties have a distinctive vibe and never have the “cookie cutter” feel of being one in a series. They are often operated independently and are not affiliated with a major chain. That said, the largest independent boutique hotel operator in the world, the Kimpton Hotel brand, is owned by InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts (IHG). Or they may be independently owned, but belong to a luxury hotel association, such as Relais & Chateaux or Small Luxury Hotels of the World.


The Saguro Palm Springs – recommended by Jennifer E., Covington Online Specialist.
Image credit: Joie de Vivre Hotels

Design – The architecture and interior design of a boutique hotel is as unique as its operations, but always upscale and often combining historic details with chic elegance. The lines may be sleek and contemporary or quaint and homey – or even an artistic amalgamation. Boutique hotels convey a progressively forward style with fastidious décor. Guestrooms are individually decorated, and use upscale linens and exclusive amenities.

Character – Boutique hotels usually have an eccentric personality. They are fun and funky, trendy and offbeat. Their quirky sense of humor might be exhibited through creative guest offerings. For example the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C. will deliver a goldfish to your room if you’re missing your own pet.


Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia – recommended by Karen K., Luxury Vacation Advisor.
Image credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

Location – Again, there is no hard rule, but many boutique hotels are located in the most hip and fashionable urban areas. You’ll find them in lively, up-and-coming sections – they may well be one of the factors in the area’s rejuvenation – and high-end residential neighborhoods that are away from the crowds, but convenient to city highlights.Trendy boutique hotels are also found in resort areas, generally well hidden from the main tourist throng.

Culture – As an extension of the unique personality of each property, boutique hotels often celebrate the local flavor with a strong sense of place by incorporating locally-sourced materials and reflecting the locations heritage through color and art. Themed boutique hotels build the entire guest experience, from décor to services, around a particular subject such as art, fashion or sports


Service – Highly personalized service is a hallmark of boutique hotels. Staff will know your name on the first day of your stay. Providing bespoke luxury amenities such as an extensive pillow menu and custom toiletries, as well as offering sumptuous spa services creates a very high-quality, individualized experience.


The Farmhouse Inn near Healdsburg, CA boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant for fine country dining.
Recommended by Kim S., Covington Vacation Advisor. Image credit: Farmhouse Inn

Gastronomy – Like everything else about boutique hotels, their restaurants and bars tend to be hip, trendy and locally-sourced. High quality, authentic cuisine, and comfortable cocktail atmospheres make these dining and drinking spots popular with locals as well as guests.

Clientele – The types of travelers who are attracted to boutique hotels are as individual as the hotels themselves and tend to be just as hip. Guests from Millennials to Boomers who enjoy creative design, quirky character, and luxurious service will be right at home in boutique hotels



Mark enjoyed The Rusty Parrot in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  It’s a lodge in style and architecture, but it has the characteristics of a boutique hotel, with a Northwestern design that would be a fit in our area: