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During our recent visit to Istanbul we stayed in a lovely hotel in a historical area of Istanbul. We discovered that this is an up and coming neigbourhood where older historical buildings are being converted into small boutique hotels. We loved that the neighbourhood and the hotel were full of character because it really made us feel like we were in Istanbul, an amazing city with thousands of years of history.

The boutique sector is one of the fastest-growing segments in the hotel industry, making travellers come back again and again to relive the unique experience.

What is behind this new trend and is this style of hotel for you?

The term boutique initially surfaced in the 1980s when a hotel in New York City had been compared to visiting a boutique retail store. They represent a smaller property with upscale accommodations and personalized service. Most boutique hotels are small only 10 to 100 rooms to provide guests with a comfortable, intimate experience as an alternative to a larger chain hotel.

These customized hotels offer a specific aesthetic tailored to their location allowing the guests to feel more in a vacation mindset. The owners often change interiors and upgrade different amenities to their liking.

For most guests, these unique one of a kind stays are a destination within a destination as they offer a certain eloquent ambiance.

The space is usually very community-oriented with local neighbouring restaurants, markets and shops adjacent to the hotels.

Who Stays There?

Anyone and everyone, regardless of age and demographic, have displayed an interest in these unique and aesthetic hotels.

Most of the guests express their curiosity in life through traveling. The guests range from younger generations to older millennials.

What to Expect

Although each property is custom-made to its geographic location, there are a few commonalities within each boutique-style property.

Each hotel provides locally inspired food and beverage offerings with architecture that reflects the aesthetics of each destination. The areas usually exhibiting originality and uniqueness in simple things like the choice of flowers, furniture, designs, and more. These small personalized changes can transform the whole mood and setting of the themed space.

When Might a Boutique Property Not Be the Right Choice

Each boutique property is unique. The vibe and ambiance and amenities are specific to that property. The larger chain hotels, on the other hand, offer a consistent, style and level of service and the same loyalty rewards program no matter where you are staying all over the world. If you like knowing exactly what to expect at your hotel and you enjoy a consistent level of service, your familiar brand might be a better choice. For example, with the brand I prefer, I always get a complimentary room upgrade, fresh fruit in the room, guaranteed late check out and a food/beverage credit. There are some trips when I am looking to know that I will receive these extra touches.

Another point to remember, is that boutique properties can sometimes be in harder to reach areas. While we loved our hotel in Istanbul, it was located on a narrow one lane street with a very steep incline. If you took your hands off your luggage for a second it would end up careening into traffic below. The taxi driver, not being familiar with the area or the property had difficulty locating it. At one point another car was parked right in the middle of the street making it impossible to pass. A heated discussion began in Turkish about which vehicle should move which resulted in our taxi backing uphill through this narrow area and looking for another route. While we found this bit of local culture quite entertaining, had we been in a hurry or heading to the airport it would have been quite stressful. So if it is a quick stay for example a pre cruise night, a hotel with a convenient location might be a better choice.

Whether you choose a boutique property for every trip or just periodically, the intricate details and custom features of a boutique property will leave you in awe and enhance your overall stay. If you would like to experience a boutique property I’d love to share some of my favourites.

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