How to create a boutique hotel room on a budget

By Sam Stokoe

- Last updated on GMT

Add quirky, unexpected details with items found at flea markets or auctions to create character on a budget says designer Sam Stokoe
Add quirky, unexpected details with items found at flea markets or auctions to create character on a budget says designer Sam Stokoe

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Sam Stokoe, hotel interior design specialist and director at Newman Gauge, gives her top tips to creating a boutique hotel on a tight budget. 

We love boutique hotels, there is a sense of pride, ownership and passion which is reflected in these unique settings. Many of the best boutique bedrooms have been created and operated by entrepreneurs who have a small number of rooms which they lovingly restore each morning to welcome new customers.  

For operators who want to create a boutique hotel without having a big budget, here are my top tips: 

Know your target market

Making the decision to create a boutique hotel should not be taken lightly, you will need to be very confident about who you are targeting as this style of hotel should ooze personality, character and attention to detail. A boutique bedroom triumphantly abandons safe and neutral tones associated with mass-market appeal and is generally braver with the design content. You need to ensure your guests will want that. 

Understand what boutique means

By marketing your hotel as 'boutique' you are raising the expectations of your guests and suggesting a sophisticated environment. Boutique does not necessarily mean indulgent, but it does mean it reflects culture and worldly experience.

Choose a style and be consistent

When it comes to choosing a style for your hotel, there should be no limits. Whether it's embracing street art, bold graphics, classical prints or energetic patterns, it must be expressed with confidence and not with insignificant token gestures.

First impressions count

Customers will make a split second decision about your accommodation on their initial observation.  Do not put all of budget into small items like fantastic cushions and taps make sure there is a visual hook which is obvious upon entering the room.  This can be a large wall graphic, feature arm chair or headboard detail.  It is worth considering that potential guests may select their destination based on images they find online, the photo of your accommodation must include a visual centre piece which captures the personality you want to reflect.

Think secondhand for unique features

The beauty to a boutique hotel is that each room is unique, a wealth of unexpected features which have been lovingly sought out specifically to breathe life into this carefully crafted space. Car boot sales, flea markets and auctions all offer unusual cost effective treasures. Fantastic light fittings can be found which can be rewired and tested for commercial use by qualified electricians, for example. 

This overall disregard to sensible interior design solutions allows quirky details to be appreciated by guests whilst providing clever cost saving solutions. Exposed lamps are currently on trend, however exposed pipework, second hand tables and open fronted wardrobes should all be explored.

Use lighting to create ambiance

Consider how each area of the accommodation is used and provide appropriate lighting. Expensive dimmers and colour changing lighting are not necessary as long as there is a variety of lighting which can be switched on independently to reflect the required mood.

Don't scrimp on the important stuff

Remember to focus the majority of the budget on the places where it will be appreciated the most. These, without exception, are a great shower, comfortable mattress and blackout curtains.

Remember the regulations 

Understand the regulations regarding ‘spread of flame’, particularly on furniture, curtains and wall finishes, and ensure that you fit your accommodation out with contract-quality items. On the quest to find quirky and original furniture, you may end up on auction sites like Ebay, but there will be no guarantees it will have flame retardant fabric or combustion modified upholstery foam which is essential in commercial environments.  

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