Boutique hotels are small-capacity hotels that provide more personalized service than typical hotels. They typically have fewer than a hundred rooms, and are considered more "trendy" and "intimate", often due to their location in urban areas. They may be themed, such as by having a focus on nature, environment, cuisine, history, community and cultural immersion, attentive service, or well-being.
Boutique hotels first began appearing in the 1980s in major cities such as London, New York, and San Francisco. There is debate about who started the boutique hotel concept. Blakes Hotel in South Kensington, London, designed by Anouska Hempel, and the Bedford in Union Square, San Francisco, both founded in 1981, may have started the trend. Morgans Hotel, founded in 1984 by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, is regarded by some as the real start.
The term "boutique hotel" was coined by Steve Rubell, who compared Morgans Hotel to a boutique as opposed to a department store, to which chain hotels were compared.
In recent times, boutique hotels have grown in popularity, corresponding with the general public's increased interest in individualized service. Many hotel chains have begun to focus on creating subsidiary hotels to establish smaller, boutique-style hotels, or in acquiring previously independent boutique hotels.
Boutique hotels are typically furnished in a themed, stylish, and/or aspirational manner with distinctive concepts. These concepts often reflect the local culture and neighborhoods in which the hotels reside. Typically, these hotels are designed to have a more "intimate" feel than many larger hotel chains.
Boutique hotels are commonly found in the city centers of London, New York City, Miami, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. They are also found in resort destinations and may be furnished with amenities such as spas, yoga, and painting classes.