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About this article: What to Expect: Boutique hotel design

Boutique hotels are designed with the guest in mind. They are located in getaway spots away from the everyday hustle and bustle, where guests can enjoy the great service they offer and also relax in a peaceful environment.

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What to expect
During the 1990s, people very much knew what was to be expected when entering a boutique hotel: awesome design, superb staff, lesser rooms than the 'big boys', and the area's best bars and dining joints just a few steps away from the lobby.

However, with the hotel industry labeling their hotels as boutique wherever possible, it has become more of a marketing tool. The big hotel chains such as Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Germain Group are making 'boutique' hotels accessible to the middle - class people with the nice cheap chains, though it doesn't really do any favours to the exclusivity of boutique hotels. The term, in a nutshell, has been misused by greedy hotels.

According to Stephen Brandman, co - owner of Thompson Hotels, he says that boutique hotels are often expected to be loud, noisy bar staffed with 5'10 models. However, whatever said and done, it all boils down to service. He says that the inspiration between all the hotels in his chain was to combine the high - end service in small and stylish hotels. Design should be nice. However, it shouldn't be too flashy or anything like that, such as a really big red lampshade!

Philippe Kjellgren, president of Kiwi Collection, the most trusted publishers of luxury hotel guides, says that the best boutique hotel based on a good design and small size is the Portrait Suites in Rome. With all the small details such as its own roof deck, wood and marble furnishings, and boar - skin covered tables, the focus on these details have pleased him. The rooms may be small, but it has a superb layout.

Another favourite of Kjellfren was Les Ottomans, situated in Istanbul, Turkey. Though the hotel has only 12 rooms, they have, what Kjellfren calls, a crazy interpretation of traditional Turkish design. What he means is the mixture of gilt mirrors, doors from France and awesome Anatolian carpets, along with the rooms, each of which have a unique theme e.g. some of them are designed with the feng shui principles in mind.

Kjellgren also recommended the Hotel Marques de Riscal, opened in Spain. Whether you'll like it or not really depends on your opinion of starchitects, and also Gehry's trademark metallic swishes, but it's a great opportunity to reside in 'a work of art', according to him. However, don' t be searching for a lot of right angles.

However, all in all, the good boutique hotels aren't just about a really good area or a particular look, but they will have that particular thing which is so hard to describe: "It's more than just the ingredients," Brandman said. "There's that special sauce, that special ingredient that you can't just buy in a bottle."
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