What Guests Want From a Boutique Hotel Stay

Demand for boutique hotel stays has increased by 8% year over year, outpacing same-class U.S. hotels by 2%. This is fantastic news for boutique hotels. Understanding why this trend is happening and why guests are gravitating towards smaller establishments can help you ensure that your boutique hotel meets guest expectations and capitalizes on this growing demand.

The appeal of boutique hotels lies in their unique charm, not their size. Although boutique properties are typically smaller, guests do not have lower expectations; in fact, the opposite is true. While they might not provide the extensive conference facilities or indoor pools of larger chain hotels, boutique establishments offer a distinctive experience rather than a predictable one. Boutique hotel guests seek a unique stay that enhances their journey, not just a place to sleep.

Let’s explore what exactly guests look for in a boutique hotel stay. 

Distinctive Authenticity

This ties directly into your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and branding. Guests choose boutique hotels to escape the standardized offerings of chain hotels. So, how do you differentiate yourself and build your brand? Share your story, maintain consistent branding, and define your hotel’s personality—carrying it through your decor, offerings, activities, website design, and social media. Being well-defined and consistent builds trust in your brand and sets the right expectations for your target audience.

Don’t be afraid to stand out! Research your accommodation market to see what’s available—then do something different. Perhaps offer an upscale, modern vibe complete with an onsite spa, or themed decor that taps into a pop culture trend. Maybe your location is off the beaten path; leverage your unique surroundings for a truly distinctive experience.

Boutique hotel guests are drawn to properties with unique and stylish design elements that create a memorable atmosphere. They appreciate thoughtfully curated interiors, artwork, and architecture that reflect the hotel’s personality and location.


While guests want unique experiences, they don’t want to give up comfort. In fact, can you offer greater comfort than your large hotel competitors? Think top-grade mattresses, upscale sheet thread counts, and plush, hypoallergenic pillows that ensure a perfect night’s sleep. Stock your bathrooms with high-quality toiletries, fluffy towels, and luxurious bathrobes. Consider providing additional touches such as heated bathroom floors, rain showers, and deep soaking tubs to elevate the in-room experience. 

Close-up of upscale hotel bed with a wine cooler and champagne glasses next to it.
Top-quality bedding, amenities, and in-room extras instantly elevate the guest experience.

VIPS – Very Important Personalized Service

While larger hotels are also shifting towards personalized service, boutique hotels and inns excel in this area, which is a key factor driving demand. 

Consider this adaptation of the old adage, If you try to be all things to all guests, you’ll appeal to no one. Determine your niche guest segments so you can define offers and services that will appeal to your specific guests and cater to their individual needs and preferences. 

Ensure your staff are well trained and genuinely invested in guest satisfaction to fulfill this level of personalization. Your hotel management software is crucial to this endeavor as well:

  • Use guest profiles to track preferences and booking history and create opportunities to delight repeat visitors and make them feel valued.
  • Communicate with guests using personalized, automated emails and mobile messaging to enhance the guest experience and reinforce loyalty.
  • Create unique packages and add-ons that appeal to your guests and allow them to customize their stay experience. 
  • Offer convenient, self-service options, including direct online bookings and self check-in, that expedite service and allow your guests to focus on enjoying their stay experience—and your staff to focus on enhancing it.


As a small hotel, you have the agility to implement changes and introduce new offerings swiftly, unlike larger hotels that often face layers of approval. Whether it’s adopting new technologies like mobile keys or crafting activity packages to tap into trending interests—like the wellness trend—you can respond promptly to guest preferences.

In today’s digital age, guests expect boutique hotels to provide modern in-room experiences with technological solutions. This encompasses high-speed Wi-Fi, smart room controls, and convenient online self check-in options, aligning with the guest-centric and often cutting-edge nature of boutique properties.

Customer Care

Part of being agile means really listening to your guests. This might be in person or via online reviews and post-stay surveys. When a guest takes the time to give you their feedback, they want to feel heard. Responding to reviews is essential to your online reputation, not only for mitigating damage from bad reviews but for capitalizing on the good ones! Be sure to thank guests for their candor—both positive and negative—and commit to using feedback to make continuous improvements. 


Sustainability is an increasingly important factor in choosing where to stay, and as a boutique property, you’re well suited to promote eco-friendly initiatives. Show guests you share their values by implementing and promoting energy-efficient operations, cloud-based technology, locally sourced amenities, recycling programs, and alternative transportation—like bike rentals.

After all, smaller properties should have less environmental impact than larger properties. Here are some truly inspiring boutique eco hotels.

Food and Beverage

Onsite lounges, restaurants and cafes are beloved by guests and a great way to boost your bottom line. Tap into what’s local to further create that authentic and unique experience for guests. If you don’t have the room to offer your own facilities, create partnerships with local businesses and assert your property as a regional insider with the scoop on the best grub.

Boutique hotel guests often seek authentic experiences that reflect the culture and character of the destination. They appreciate recommendations for local restaurants, shops, and attractions, as well as opportunities to engage with the local community.

A hotel receptionist sits with a guest and checks her in on a tablet device.
Modern hotel technology empowers hotel staff to provide personalized and efficient service.

On the Back End

While the old British sitcom Fawlty Towers is entertaining to watch, it does not represent what guests want! Avoid the chaos with the right property management software, and save yourself a few headaches, too. Look for a PMS that supports your unique operation and exceptional guest experience with the following key characteristics:

Excellent Customer Support: Choose a PMS that offers comprehensive support and training. Read software reviews to get an idea of a vendor’s responsiveness and reliability so you can be confident support is there when you need it. Quick resolution of problems and smooth operation directly enhance the guest experience.

Intuitive User Interface: You don’t want complicated software distracting your staff from guests! Take the time to preview your prospective PMS via a demo to assess how user-friendly it is. Checking software reviews can help here too. 

Flexible Functionality: Another very good reason to take the time to demo software before you buy is to see how it will work for your unique operations. From splitting folios to packages and add-ons to reporting requirements, compile a list of what you need the system to do, and ask the sales rep to show you how to do it. A flexible system should be adaptable to your requirements, not the other way around.

Well Integrated: A PMS that integrates with your other tech solutions allows you to streamline operations and the guest experience. Software integrations automate cross-system processes, eliminating the need for staff to manually duplicate data between systems. This allows staff to focus more on personalizing the guest experience and less on administrative tasks.

Cloud Based: A cloud-based PMS allows hotel staff to access the system from anywhere, facilitating better service on-the-go and quicker responses to guest needs. This flexibility is essential for maintaining high service standards and ensuring guests’ requests are promptly met.

Reports and Insights: Access to detailed reports and insights helps management track performance indicators and understand guest preferences and behaviors. This data can be used to tailor operations, services, and offerings to enhance the guest experience and bottom line, ensuring the business meets and exceeds guest and owner expectations.

Boutique hotels, though small in size, wield significant influence over their guests’ experiences. The journey starts with authenticity and culminates in guest loyalty, with personalized service and exceptional customer care serving as vital components in between. With a commitment to these principles, success is assured. You’ve got this!