In college, I was fortunate to travel quite a bit. I fell in love with being abroad. There is so much to take in when you travel –– so much culture and color that you can get lost in it. Now that I’m back in the States for good (more or less), I think it’s the same thing that has me enthralled with boutique hotels.
You can get lost in them. With vibrant colors and intentional details, the very deliberate design of your whole environment is intended to draw you in. It’s the art of experience –– the art of expanding or creating culture.
There are some that are very luxurious, but without dedicated theme or message. I think these qualify as lifestyle hotels. There is an industry discussion right now to define the difference between boutique and lifestyle hotels. I’m still waiting to find out if I got that one right.
Though boutiques are often a bit loftier in price, I recommend staying in them if you can. They encourage guests to more fully experience an aspect of their destination city’s culture or delve further into their interests. The Curtis by Doubletree offers games and pop culture memorabilia on each of their themed floors, while The Ace Hotels hone in on local music and art with vintage-inspired, hip design.
Another thing I like about boutique hotels is that they tend to be gems in big cities with lots of secrets and tips for guests. Give it a shot and ask the staff what they suggest. They might surprise you with something your guidebook and smartphone apps won’t mention.