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The Origin of Boutique Hotels
30 years have passed since Ian Schrager, founder of the legendary Studio 54 in New York, gave a new twist to his image by inventing the first boutique hotel in history.
In 1984, Ian Schrager and the now deceased Steve Rubell opened the first boutique hotel in New York. Unlike the hotels that were triumphing at that time—impersonal and megalithic in general—Morgans on Madison Avenue was quirky and highly remarkable.
Morgans, the first ‘boutique hotel’, where the well-tended aesthetics, exquisite personal attention and the best catering were there to serve the wealthiest guests.
They reconceived the lobby areas, banked on setting the trendy restaurant just a few steps from the reception—allowing the counter at the bar to become the place to be seen when sunset came—and outfitted the personnel with practically haute couture uniforms. If at any time you have been in a hotel whose ambient music was more than acceptable, or even good, you owe it to Schrager.
Rubell never managed to see the fame that their hotels would attain worldwide. He died in 1989. In later years, the work of opening hotels was never-ending. In London, their boutique can be found in the interior of the historic Berners Hotel in the district of Fitzrovia. However, the jewel in the crown is the one in West Village, New York, created by the architects, Herzog & de Meuron, the winners of a Pritzker Prize.
Homely and intimate could be two adjectives that characterise a boutique hotel. The rooms have everything that is required, just like the restaurant, the massage parlour, the pool and the lobby. The “boutique hotel” concept spread to other countries such as Spain, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and countries in the Middle East. In recent years, they have appeared in Turkey, Peru, Iceland and China.
You could say that they can be divided into two groups:
-Boutique hotels in big cities: they are in the centre of a city such as Miami or Los Angeles and one of their most significant attributes is the technology to be connected and entertaining all the time.
-Boutique hotels in places for relaxing: in this case, they are built in more hidden places such as an island or on a mountain, almost always exotic spots. They are not always hi-tech, but they offer painting classes, yoga, massages, spas and contact with nature.
-Architecture and design: They stand out on account of their warmth, distinction and intimacy, with soft, modern tones and with little in the way of furniture. They are based on one particular style, and the furnishings and decoration are based on that. Each room may have a name based on the general theme. There are also cases of old hotels that have been refurbished.
-Services: by having a limited number of rooms, service is more personalised, which is why the personnel will always be attentive to guests’ needs.
-Target: the public that prefers these hotels are, above all, couples over the age of 30 and below 50.
Boutique hotels have their own awards: Boutique Hotel Awards 2017, the awards given by The World Boutique Awards, the only international organisation that is solely devoted to recognising excellence among the world’s luxury boutique hotels. Last year, at Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London a total of 12 hotels were named having been chosen from more than 600 nominees from more than 80 countries. All of them had a common denominator: all those hotels are able to transport the guest to a world like something out of a novel thanks to the story of where they were located, their culture and for possessing a special gift for doing things.
Each participant was chosen by a member of the Awards Nominating Committee, made up of 70 leading travel experts. Five categories were assessed: restaurants and entertainment, design, facilities, location and personnel service and general emotional impact. The 2018 Awards have already been convened. However, first, we are going to enjoy this year’s well-deserved winners.
Some of the award-winning hotels were:
Aenaon Villa, Greece.
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel (South Africa).
Castello Di Guarene, Italy.
The Chester Grosvenor (England).
Hotel Ca Maria Adele, Venice.Read more Close