The term “Boutique Hotel” was termed in the 1980’s and referred to independent hotels with aspirational design and excellent service. It was largely a reaction to the chain hotels and the lack of sense of place that was felt these hotels offered, ie you could enter a X hotel somewhere in the world and not really know whereabouts you were until you were without setting foot outside! Of course these days the chain hotels have largely upped their game and style, individuality and sense of place have become a discerning factor for many travellers who hanker after “authenticity” as part of their cultural experience when holiday making.
Designing Your Hotel
So what can you do if you are a small hotel or guest house to increase your desirability and increase those all important bookings. The boutique hotel trend offers those even with the smallest of spaces, small numbers of rooms a chance to excel with a bit of design know how. The first things to consider in my opinion are your existing brand, location and your building. To create a sense of authenticity your interior should fit with all these aspects. Of course if your brand is something you feel is out of date or incongruent with your location and building then this could be changed along with your refurbishment. For example if you have bought a Cornish coastal hotel and it had a family name in the hotel title which associated with the old owners, it would no longer be relevant and it would be ideal to change it to something which lets people recognize it as a coastal hotel in Newquay such as “Towan Beach Hotel”. When we hear something as simple as this our mind begins to create a sense of place. Tap into that and develop it, its your story and your hotel is unique, that is what people will buy into.
So let’s say we are trying to create a boutique hotel with a contemporary coastal theme on a budget. A good place to start is by simply changing the window treatments (this is your curtains or blinds). You can keep walls largely neutral and add accents of colours using cushions and runners on the beds. You may want to have a feature wall behind the bedhead. Try and avoid putting beds below windows but on the wall which your focus is naturally drawn to when you enter the room. If you have a particularly wonderful window and view it would be nice to be able to place the bed so that you can see this window opposite it for example. Try and work your design around the best points of your room’s architecture. If you have fantastic ceilings then keep other elements simple and perhaps pick out the ceiling in two shades of white for example. A simple way to create a feature wall is to use a paint colour on one wall which picks up on your main fabrics in the room. Blues work particularly well with yellow or orange for a contemporary look. If you want a more traditional look think of the blue and white florals which are reminiscent of pottery, these can look really fresh and work well with either white painted furniture for a slightly shabby chic effect or dark timber furniture for a very classic traditional look. Keep flooring simple, a plain neutral carpet in a mid tone or timber flooring is good particularly if you have original floorboards that can be sanded back and waxed. Patterned carpets are to be avoided as these are dated. If timber flooring is not in such good condition consider making good and painting it in an off white or neutral colour such as a Farrow and Ball Mouses Back or String. Good quality plain white bedding can be used – I much prefer to see plain bedding that is lifted by a small patterned runner in a more delicate fabric with some cushions in complementary fabrics. Try to give each room a different scheme and its own accent fabric. Pe0ple love individuality and you can give rooms much more personality in this way. There should be common elements to the rooms so maybe you pick different fabrics from the same range for example a large floral master room, a small ditsy floral single room, a stripe for the twin or family room.
Artwork and Scale
Pay attention to the scale of your room, if you have very high ceilings and a large room then small pieces of artwork placed either side of a small window will not look right. You would be better to cluster a few smaller pieces to give it more impact and “match” the scale of your large window and room. Alternatively find larger pieces of art. If you only have two or three similar sized small pieces of similar size then set them in matching frames and group them vertically for example. I’m putting an online course together for hotel owners that perhaps couldn’t justify working with a designer 1:1.
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All the Best Rachel B x
Luxury Hospitality Interior Designer BA Hons, APMP
Spinriver Design ltd