7 facts what a boutique hotel is NOT

There is no easy way to define boutique hotels. There are a number of qualities that these charming hotels of the world share, but they offer an experience that’s better understood in-person rather than by a definition. But, we can try to explain that “you’ll know it when you see it” feeling and where it comes from by first exploring what a boutique hotel is NOT.


If you’re staying somewhere that’s…

  1. Cookie cutter accommodations,
  2. Part of a chain,
  3. Dull, with inside-the-box design,
  4. Filled with too many rooms,
  5. Impersonal,
  6. All inclusive, or
  7. Pretty much just flat and soulless


…then you are not staying at a boutique hotel. Keep looking, though! These hip hideaways can be found almost anywhere in the world that visitors would want to go (we can personally attest to that…). In our travels, we came across more secret retreats and small luxury hotels than we can count, and while we do still believe boutique hotels are better defined through seeing than explaining, we’ve compiled a few traits they all share:


Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel Dar Seven Marrakech

Photo by Dar Seven in Marrakech


Getting this out of the way: yes, a boutique hotel is tiny, with no more than 50 rooms and no less than ten (otherwise, it would be an inn or b&b). Their size gives these great small hotels a distinct air of intimacy and personal touch that large hotels just can’t offer.

A true boutique hotel is also one-of-a-kind and independently owned. These indie hotels are distinct from cookie cutter accommodations. They have a style and personality that is truly unique and enhance their guests’ experience of the destination. Boutique hotels tend to be hip, with trend-setting clientele and forward-looking design elements. Because the décor is unique to the independent owners, it is not designed to appeal to the masses but instead a specific crowd of adventurous travelers with a taste for authenticity.

These hip hideaways are dedicated to hyper-attentive service. Because they include personal touches that large hotel chains can’t match, the best boutique hotels in the world pride themselves on their top-of-the-line, personalized service. Providing an easy and at-home atmosphere for guests is essential to the charming hotel experience. They offer great, distinct options when it comes to food and beverage. With restaurants and bars that often draw in locals, you typically won’t lack for cutting edge meals and drinks when you stay at one of these independent hotels.

A boutique hotel is not mainstream, all-inclusive or bland. It’s authentic, stylish and exclusive, unique in design and architecture, trendy, intimate, cosy and inspiring. It provides a personalized service with a real focus on the customer. And most importantly, it offers a memorable experience in itself.

So there you have it! Our attempt at answering the question, “What is a boutique hotel?” But boutique hotel lovers will attest: you have to experience it in person to really understand what it all means. Tell us about some of your favorites and why you love them in the comments below.


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