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The term “boutique hotel” has been widely used in recent years, but what does it mean and why should you stay in one?

There are lots of companies that claim to specialise in boutique hotels. For many, a boutique hotel is simply one that’s not part of a national or international chain and that distinguishes itself by its design, location or additional features. Many hotels aspire to be a boutique hotel without actually achieving it. Overall, there are four main elements to the true boutique hotel:

Size

Large hotels can be cool, trendy and chic, but they can’t be boutique. Just as the word is used to describe small, design-led specialist shops, so it applies to hotels. Hotels that apply the term “boutique” to themselves or have it ascribed to them are usually small – certainly less than 50 rooms and in some cases with only one or two. Their size contributes to the atmosphere and service that characterises a hotel with a difference. Whilst size might count in terms of the number of rooms, it doesn’t follow that those rooms must also be small. In fact, a hotel than could easily accommodate 20 rooms might choose instead to create just ten, but make them spacious and luxurious, catering to the boutique market.

Design

When the first boutique hotel was opened in New York in 1984, by hotel entrepreneurs Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, it was praised for its original design and quirky nature. Designed for those who really wanted to participate in their travel rather than passively take it all in, Morgans, and those that followed it, challenged the way we thought about hotels. Although Schrager would not now describe his hotels as boutique, the name has been applied to those hotel who followed in his footsteps as far as design is concerned. From clean and contemporary to themed rooms and classic elegance, a boutique hotel must have a clear design theme and attention to detail.

Service

The hallmark of an excellent boutique hotel is its service. Whether the hotel chooses to assign a personal butler to each guest, or just hires and trains staff to anticipate your every need, the service at a boutique hotel is really what it should be at any hotel: ensuring that your stay goes without a hitch, that you can get transport, opera tickets or excellent meals when you want them and making you feel at home rather than feeling like you’re a nuisance. Boutique hotels are scattered all over the world, from 24-hour cities like New York, London and Rio De Janeiro to island havens in the Indian or Pacific Oceans. What often sets them apart are the buildings that contain them. From former plantation houses to old textile mills, towers and palazzos, the type of building often forms the basis of the design and it is the blend of architecture, design and service that turns what could be just another hotel into a boutique one.

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Don’t leave your shopping to the last minute. The more time you have to shop around, the more you can negotiate. It’s difficult to find bargains under pressure, so leave plenty of time to work with wedding vendors. Never hire the first vendor you meet. You should always make your decision based on several vendors.

Avoid a Saturday wedding. Saturday is the busiest wedding day of the week, and the most expensive. If you can try to have a Sunday or Friday wedding.

When you pay your bills use a credit card with a reward program. You have 30-days to pay the bill, in addition, you might earn enough miles to cover your flight to your honeymoon destination. Avoid the busy summer wedding season. You might be able to get better deals during the fall and winter months. You might be able to wear your mother’s or your grand mother’s wedding dress. In addition to saving a bundle, but you also might make you mother very happy. Buy a sample wedding dress or rent your wedding gown. Hire businesses you know to get a great deal. If you have a friend who is a musician, a photographer, a caterer, try to work out a deal with them. If you want to save a lot of money, hire a non-wedding photographer. Almost any good photographer should be able to do a good job photographing your wedding.

Buy your wedding accessories from non-wedding professionals. Many of your wedding accessories might be available at non-wedding vendors. Shop online. You can more effectively comparison shop online than trying to visit your local bridal shops.

Work with a wedding reception venue that allows you to provide your own alcoholic beverages. In addition to the obvious savings, you can return the unopened bottles to the store.

Work with an airline to get a group discount on the plane tickets for your wedding guests. Your wedding guests will appreciate the savings, and you might save on your plane ticket to your honeymoon destination.

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