By Katie Wilson
Boutique hotels seem like they have been around forever, but did you know they only date back to 1978?
This is when Blakes London – the world’s first boutique hotel – opened its doors and caused one of the biggest shake-ups the travel industry has ever seen.
Revolutionary in its style, from its ultra-personalised service to the unique decor, it set the standard for the boutique hotels of today.
So before you book your next trip, here are seven reasons why you should stay in a boutique hotel.
Boutique hotels are known for their creative style, something chain hotels are constricted by as they have to adopt a uniform look to stay on brand.
From on-site artists who create original artwork, to one-of-a-kind hotels with features like rooftop infinity pools, it’s all about the details.
Here’s our pick of the chicest hotels in the UK:
Artist Residence – With hotels in Brighton, London, Oxfordshire and Penzance, and the new Artist Residence Bristol about to open, this independent hotel chain is one of our favourites. Prices from just £85 a night.
Dunstane Houses, Edinburgh – Winner of the Best Boutique Experience in Scotland 2020, this stylish hotel with copper bathtubs in some rooms is right up our street. Prices from £138 a night. Read more about it in our round-up of best places to stay with luxury baths in the UK.
King Street Townhouse, Manchester – This stunning hotel has a rooftop infinity pool with city centre views of the clocktower. Prices from £145 a night.
2. EXTRA TOUCHES
Nowadays, we tend to expect a little more from our hotel room than some free soap and a shower cap.
Luxury bath products, Nespresso machines and upgraded mini-bars have become the norm, but some hotels have really kicked it up a notch and are offering some pretty spectacular supplements.
This is our pick of UK hotels offering the best extras:
Cow and Hollow Hotel, Manchester City Centre – This palm tree themed boutique hotel offers guests free Prosecco and cookies, plus Netflix in all the rooms. Prices from £99 a night.
The Fish Hotel, Cotswolds – This quirky ‘back-to-nature’ hotel has a private cinema guests can rent out for up to 14 people. Stay in a hotel room or choose a shepherds hut or luxury treehouse with its own private hot tub. Prices from £150 a night.
Haymarket Hotel, central London – This five-star spa hotel in London has an Honesty Bar Terrace which guests can help themselves to. Prices from £344 a night when it reopens.
3. BETTER SERVICE
Boutique hotels are often smaller, so can offer a more personalised service to guests.
If you’ve got cash to splash you can even have your own butler at some hotels – or upgrade to your own private footman at The Goring in London, where Kate Middleton famously stayed the night before her wedding to Prince William.
Here’s our pick of UK hotels where staff really go the extra mile:
The PIG-at-Combe, Somerset – For a long weekend getaway in a real home away from home, the PIG hotels are always a great choice. With their laid-back hospitality, amazing food, and the option to have spa treatments in the Potting Shed, you might never want to leave. Prices from £175 a night.
Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake District – Famed for its extraordinary staff service, this family-run, five-star lakeside hotel is as luxurious as it is relaxing. Enjoy a dip in your own private hot tub if you book a Spa Lodge room and there’s even a Michelin-star restaurant, HRiSHi, on site. Prices from £255 a night.
Foxhill Manor Private House Hotel, Cotswolds – The motto at this eight-bedroom country manor is ‘whatever you fancy, whenever you fancy it’. With a personal host on hand 24 hours a day and a chef who creates your very own bespoke menu, this really is five-star treatment. Prices from £439 a night.
4. MORE LUXURIOUS SURROUNDINGS
The very notion of staying somewhere boutique conjures up a vision of luxury, but even more than that, there’s a focus on comfort.
The top boutique hotels make it a priority to have big beds, luxury linen, fluffy towels – and even a pillow menu in case guests have allergies.
You’ll be sure to have a comfortable stay at these boutique hotels:
Retreat East, Suffolk – A members club and spa which allows non-member guests to stay over, it’s all about wellbeing and recharging your batteries at Retreat East. Stay in one of their luxury barns which overlook stunning meadows. Prices start from £99 a night. Read our review of Retreat East here.
Birch Community, Hertfordshire – This new members club, restaurant and rooms is one of the hottest hotel openings of 2020. It will also have a heated lido in 2021. Rooms start from £110 a night. See our first look inside the new Birch hotel here.
Scarlet Hotel, Newquay – This luxury adults only eco-hotel with spa and clifftop hot tubs is sensational. A two-night package for 2 people starts from £835. Read more about it in our round-up of best luxury hot tub stays in the UK.
5. BETTER LOCATION
There’s definitely an abundance of boutique hotels in city centres, but some of the best boutique stays can be found in cool neighbourhoods a little on the outskirts.
As they are usually in smaller, more unique buildings, you get that boutique charm without being too far from the main action.
Here’s our pick of boutique hotels in the coolest UK neighbourhoods:
Native, Glasgow – Bang in the city centre, these Art Deco-style apartments are housed in a former shipping company HQ. Prices from £69 a night.
The Hoxton, Shoreditch, East London – One of the best and most affordable London hotels – and it’s in one of the coolest neighbourhoods. Prices from £104 a night.
6. INDEPENDENTLY OWNED
It’s always great to support small and local businesses, so before you book that bog-standard chain hotel, check what independently owned establishments are in the area.
Here are some of our favourite independent hotels in the UK:
Ginger Pig Hotel, Brighton – This stylish restaurant with rooms has freestanding baths in the luxury double rooms, Cowshed products – and the food is pretty amazing here too. They also offer 50% off on Sundays if you stay Friday and Saturday. Prices from £120 a night.
The Zetter Townhouse, London – With quirky boutique hotels in Marylebone in the west and Clerkenwell in the east, this is one of our favourite hotels in the capital. Prices from £222 a night.
The Swan, Southwold – Owned by a local brewery, this quirky Suffolk hotel is homely but super stylish. You’ll find mini bottles of gin and Bose speakers in the rooms. Guests can also take part in gin-making classes, brewery tours, or have a picnic on the beach arranged by the hotel. Prices start from £200 a night, including a cooked breakfast.
There is a myth that boutique hotels are more expensive than chain hotels, but it’s simply not true.
Of course, if you’re looking to stay in five-star luxury, you can expect to pay full whack. But there are plenty of boutique hotels in the UK that cost under £100 a night.
Here’s our pick of the most affordable boutique hotels in the UK:
The Bike and Boot, Scarborough – This quirky new ‘leisure’ hotel, which opened in July 2020, is aimed at hikers and surfers – but the rooms are great too. It’s dog-friendly and an absolute steal. Prices start from £62 a night.
The Albion House, Ramsgate – Queen Victoria once stayed at this historic boutique hotel next to the nearest sandy beach to London. Prices from £80 a night. Book the Little Victoria room if you want to sleep like royalty.
The George, Cheltenham – The latest hotel from the Lucky Onion group, you won’t get a cheaper or more stylish stay in the Cotswolds than this. Prices from £90 a night.