Professional Comment

Unique Experiences, Authentic History and a Sustainable Edge – why Boutique is Best

Giles Fuchs, Owner of Burgh Island Hotel (

Brits abroad? Think again. Enquiries for flightless holidays have doubled in the past five years and there has been an increase of over 70% in travellers looking for a sustainable option. Welcome, the domestic holiday.

And this rise in domestic holidays certainly does not mean a compromise on luxury, exclusivity, and experience. Consumers are increasingly seeking unique, tailored experiences, so it’s time to say goodbye to the chain hotel and embrace all that boutique has to offer.

Delivering that unique experience

As humans, we crave new experiences. Over 65% of travellers say they want to return from a trip having done something novel. A chain hotel is a hotel. A boutique hotel, on the other hand, is a memorable adventure made attractive by so much more than just being a place to sleep.

Keeping guests on their toes with opportunities for excursions and activities will deliver a stand-out experience. At Burgh Island Hotel, for instance, guests arrive by sea-tractor – I don’t think anyone would forget that in a hurry!

A recent study from a global hotel consultancy found that young travellers associate luxury with unique and enriching life experiences. This means that luxury hotels need to offer something more than just a fancy bedroom – perhaps a restaurant that excels in mouth-watering delicacies or uses locally sourced produce. Similarly, offering guests opportunities to learn about the history and culture of a region is a great way to create a memorable stay.

Retaining history and authenticity

Another special feature of boutique hotels is their ability to retain a sense of history and an independence of

a spirit that guest will remember.The atmosphere at boutique hotels creates a certain ambiance that chain hotels lack.

Chain hotels are so deeply centred on delivering a convenient and quality service, that they compromise on their own charm.Yes, refurbishment projects need to adapt to customer trends such as providing strong wi-fi and other modern necessities, but this can co-exist with quirky authenticity that will ensure guests never forget their stay.

Today, guests crave something that goes beyond the “cookie cutter” type luxury hotel chain, they want both a hotel and a destination that are intertwined. One way to ensure this is achieved is to pay close attention to selecting the right décor and furnishings to encapsulate a hotel’s unique history.

Boutique hotels often consult with experts to help to ensure authenticity is maintained throughout the whole of the guest’s stay. It’s the small details that can truly transport guests into another era, be it Victorian, Gothic or even Post-Modern. At Burgh Island, it’s the 1920s, decorated with iconic Art Deco features, most famously the vibrant peacock glass dome enclosing the Palm Court.

Utilising a smaller space

Boutique hotels can also leverage their relatively modest size, maximising guest experience as well as capacity to guarantee strong and reliable revenue streams.

The largest hotel chain provider in the world has over 1.4 million rooms spread over just 7,500 properties. However, in a world that is navigating a pandemic, lower-capacity, spacious boutique hotels with less than 100 rooms will certainly have an attractive edge.

Small boutique hotels also have an advantage when it comes to the environment. Earlier this year, it was reported that hotel chains are struggling to meet their green targets, largely because they use huge volumes of water and energy and produce tonnes of waste.

Boutique hotels can lead the way in eco-friendly practices by positioning green tourism at the core of their more personal brand identity.

This could mean reviewing how a hotel generates its energy, impacts the surrounding area and sources the produce for its kitchen. At Burgh Island, for example, 80% of our ingredients are soured from within a 30-mile radius.

Looking forward into 2022, domestic holidays will continue to be a popular choice.The unique and exciting experiences that boutique hotels offer make them a destination within themselves, abundant with history and authenticity.This is simply something that large, impersonal chain hotels cannot compete with.