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Why boutique hotels are so big in not-so-big cities
Source: CNBC/ Julie Satow / 26 June 2017 / Photo by: Kate Medley, New York Times



An element of surprise. Sophistication. Personal connection. A unique experience. These are just some of the qualities younger travellers look for when holidaying. And that’s why many are choosing to stay in boutique holiday accommodation – as you can have all these things without leaving the comfort of your très chic boutique hotel.

Certainly, the numbers tell the story of just how fond travellers are for their boutique hotel stays. Worth in excess of $15 billion just in 2016 and in the US alone, the boutique hotel industry is capturing an ever-larger slice of the younger generation’s travel dollar. That’s because of what they uniquely offer.

The trend toward boutique hotel stays is underpinned by travellers seeking out authentic experiences on their holidays. Far from the standardization of services and features common amongst the hotel giants, boutique hotels instead offer guests a range of unique features:

Smaller size

Because a boutique hotel is much smaller in size it offers up a more intimate, more connected experience for the traveller. Rather than having to spread themselves thin by servicing hundreds of rooms, staff at a boutique hotel can pay greater attention to their guests’ needs and make them feel like they are staying at a high-end home, rather than an industry-standard hotel.


Instagram-worthy design and décor abound everywhere you look in a boutique hotel. In an effort to differentiate from the big chain hotel brands with their understated layout, boutique hotel designers usually go in big for themes such as rustic, urban, or even eco-friendly. Oh, and don’t forget the communal spaces like libraries and lounge rooms, so guests can mingle rather than remaining quartered in their individual rooms.


Did you know that it costs around $1.5 million a room to build a luxury hotel in New York City? This cost can be radically reduced to around $500,000 when choosing to build in smaller cities, such as Durham, North Carolina. Why Durham? Aside from the reduced cost of building a boutique hotel there, Durham is emblematic of a trend sweeping across the States. Smaller cities are being revitalized with more and more companies relocating to such places to save on the expense of doing business in the big smoke.

Evolving consumer demands

And it seems as though the young people are moving to smaller cities too for a lifestyle that is more affordable than living in a major city. So, it only makes sense that boutique hotels would follow suit and offer the city crowd what they are missing out on: one-of-a-kind, authentic experiences in unique locales. And for the travel and hotel industries, this is a good thing. Not only is building a boutique hotel a lot cheaper in less common destinations like Durham, but it is also getting ahead of the curve. It is a wise investment to make now before the rest of the country wakes up to the fact that staying in a boutique hotel in a small city is a very relaxing and reinvigorating holiday indeed. A holiday that delivers exactly what younger travellers want: fresh, exciting experiences and a chance to connect with new people.

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