The term boutique hotel began appearing in the mid-1980s defining small, stylish establishments that offered excellent personalized service. Now the designation is broader and can be applied to larger non-chain entities that feature intimate atmosphere and flawless conveniences and luxuries. The question is why have they become so popular in Edinburgh? What is it about this city that promotes this upscale elegance? Could it be that travelers to this capital city are not only tourists and vacationers but also members of a business and corporate constituency as well?
Tourists who spend their days sightseeing will want their hotels in Edinburgh located centrally. For proximity to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Scottish Parliament or the National Galleries, there are something over 50 which would fall loosely under the definition of boutique; however, for the more discriminating the list probably narrows to about seven. Rates in this choice group are around £175 per night. Other areas of Edinburgh with strong historical connections appealing to the tourist are Old Town, the Georgia New Town and the Royal Mile. Research shows at least 36 hotels qualifying as boutique near these sites, but again, many of these would not exactly fit the taste of the discerning. One should probably proceed on the basis of £160 to £175 per night when planning for cost if the luxury of the true boutique hotel is significant.
There are a number of conference and business boutique hotels in Edinburgh aggressively undertaking conventions, conferences, and corporate and business events. For this venue, the requirements are more specific. Less of the spa, chocolates on the pillow, fine dining and exceptional wine civilities (although these remain important), and more amenities such as wi-fi access, LCD screens, whiteboards and computer projection are necessary. At least five are energetically pursuing this type of business. Interestingly, the method of quoting prices is different for this type of consumer; instead of citing single room cost, the management lists room rate for “doubles”. Costs range from £170 for small doubles to over £500 for double suites in the most desirable boutique hotels to somewhat lower (but not a lot) in the less well-known establishments. Another apparently important offering for the business traveler is proximity to the nearest golf course, a fact clearly noted on each hotel’s website.
And so, for Edinburgh at least, the boutique hotel business is evolving. The definition of the intimate, luxurious, quirky hotel of the 80s which targeted the comfortable middle class and above for honeymoons and the like seems to have changed to still luxurious accommodations for the vacationing tourist. Added to this mix now is the business traveler whose corporation is willing to oblige with upscale amenities previously not thought fitting. What is next?