The end of Boutique hotels as we know them

Posted on September 14, 2010


Levitating bed in Hotel Seven Paris

Levitating bed in Hotel Seven Paris

When I met Philippe Vaurs who briefed me on the latest hotel he was creating I realized a major shift is happening on hotel trends. Boutique hotels which have been the trend over the last decade are no longer enough. People want more than a great design or a unique feel, they want to live an experience. That is exactly what the next hotel type is going to be, Experience hotels.

Back in the 1980s it is said that a new type of hotels was invented, Boutique Hotels. The story goes to say that Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell opened the Morgans in New York and said that it was like a boutique compared to a department store.

Since then boutique hotels have blossomed accross the world and they’ve given back the personal feel to hotels.

But that was in 1984, we’re 20 years later and things have moved on. Actually the hotel industry has some major changes every few decades. For a quick history lesson here’s a short timeline.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s the concept of Luxury hotels began to emerge as the place to go for the wealthy and fashionable. Hotels like the Langham of London and the Ritz of Paris have kept that tradition high for over a hundred years.

In the 1940s we started seeing chain hotels grow with the likes of Statler Hotel who brought levels of comfort to the travelers previously unheard of and in a standard that was found in all of the brand’s hotels. That model has been so successful that it is probably the most used model in the hotel industry today. This spun off variations of the chain concept from cheap to luxury.
At the same time hotels were getting larger and larger from hundreds to thousands of rooms per hotel and all that with a standard of comfort varying to one’s desire.

Then comes the Boutique hotels in 1984 and we’ve already covered that.

In the 1990s some amazing concepts like the Ice Hotels start, and it’s the beginning of something big. The beginning of hotels becoming a main part of the travel experience wherein the hotel itself is an experience. However we still need to wait many years before Experience hotels go mainstream.

In 2010 several such creations start showing up, Seven Hotel in Paris being one of them. The new suites in the Las Vegas Hard Rock hotel are another and there are more. 2010 could be said to be the year Experience hotels really started going mainstream.

That is the next level for hotels. Floating beds, levitating bathtubs, interactive lighting systems and olfactory TV channels in the rooms. The stuff of dreams that can now be accessed by everyone for a night, a day or both.