The concept of boutique hotel vs design hotel in Spain

Boutique hotels are the new must for all those travellers who are in fashion. They are accommodations devoted to the guest, with personalised services and design spaces as their main hallmark. Even more important than the destination in itself, in some cases.

Boutique hotels are the place to stay. Forever. It looks like a campaign slogan, but all those who have visited a boutique hotel will agree with us: they are hotels where to enjoy a unique and personal experience. A hidden refuge that will allow you to discover the destination in a really special way.

The concept of boutique hotel —so trendy today— refers to accommodations with really specific characteristics which make them so special and different one to the other. They have in common some general features:

  • They are small.

  • They have architectural charm.

  • They have a special location, not necessarily central.

  • They have just a few rooms, all of them different one to the other andoffering uniquenessintheir spaces.

  • Prices are not excessively high, but they do not normally include much more than the accommodation, the breakfast at most.

  • They are more common in urban settings than in beach areas, although many are located in villages and protected natural areas.

  • The personalised customer service, the original design and fine furnishings are three of their basic pillars.

As it can be inferred from these features, the boutique hotel has little to do with traditional hotels. We could say they are more authentic. However, in many cases it is a well-thought authenticity. Boutique hotels sell spontaneity and naturalness, romanticism and history… But the great demand of hotels of experiences, and more specifically of boutique hotels, has led greatchainsto take the opportunity to inaugurate new spaces we prefer to call design hotels than boutique hotels. Why?

Because a boutique hotel should be…

  • Family owned and run, despite being luxury and exclusive, and should bear the mark of past generations.

  • They should not have more than 25-30 rooms, although we are now turning a blind eye and some have more than 75.

The fact that it is not an authentic boutique hotel and it is a design hotel should not be a problem. On the contrary: many people prefer the second option becauseservicesare more professional, it offers more guaranties, and amenities are well-thought and standardised, so undesired surprises are avoided.

This type of hotel is represented by hotels of chains like Petit Palace (a Basque hotel chain characterised for restoring emblematic buildings of the city and creating a 4-star design hotel for modern and active travellers) or many of the urban hotels of Vincci Hotels. Some of these would be the Vincci Capitol, located in the centre of Madrid, in the heart of Gran Via, in the building of the emblematic cinema theatre; the Vincci Zaragoza Zentro, a complete design hotel in a city of medium size; and the Vinci Albayzín, a charming hotel in the heart of the magical and beautiful city of Granada.

What can we demand from a design hotel?

We cannot demand the same authenticity andhistory wedemand from a boutique hotel, but we can require charming spaces that provide us with warm and unique sensations. We can demand that the hotel provides us with the exclusivity we would not find at a normal city hotel.

In this sense, the architecture is essential. For this reason, hotel chains which bet for design hotelsusually takeadvantage of old and emblematic buildings of the city, not only for their location, generally central, but also for their beauty. It is also important that the restoration works are of the highest quality. They have to be professional, they must be visible in the building’s facade and they have to preserve the essence of the historic building and what it represented in society.

The interior design is the second pillar of a good design hotel. Forget about a hotel with Ikea furnishings or alike. Although they are stylish and minimalist, a good design hotel cannot resort to Ikea furnishings or alike for its interior design. The furniture is an essential element of the experience at the hotel, so it must be formed by unique, surprising, different and exclusive pieces. It is common to resort to vintage and second-hand pieces which contrast with the most modern furniture d’auteur. There are endless options of styles, but the results are always interesting. A good example of this is the Vincci The Mint, a hotel in the centre ofMadrid which represents the idea of a fresh, funny, cool and modern accommodation from its common areas to its rooms.

We have to assume that attending 10 rooms is easier than attending 50 or even 100 rooms. So although at a design hotel we miss the closeness and familiarity we find at a boutique hotel betweenownerand guest, the distance at a design hotel can be an advantage: more intimacy, more privacy, less bounds. In any case, both the customer service and the amenities will be more personal than in large hotels and much more customised. Of course, at designhotelsloyalty is greater. As well as the benefits.