The expansion will make the category the fastest growing segment within the hotel industry in London, according to hotel consultancy HVS London as it releases its bi-annual London Boutique Hotel Monitor.
High-profile openings in the capital planned over the next two years include Firmdale Hotels’ Dorset Square Hotel and Melia’s ME hotel, slated to open next January and next May respectively.
Established international hotel companies IHG and Marriott will also open properties in the capital under their boutique hotel brands Indigo and Edition.
Restaurants and bars
However, report author Cristina Balekjian, associate at HVS, warns that operators must work hard to create a point of difference for their properties and maintain a sense of ‘exclusivity and aspiration’ to survive, with the creation of destination restaurants and bars key to success.
“Hotels are no longer able to get away with passable restaurant offerings. Looking forward, we expect to see further partnerships evolve between chefs and boutique hotels in creating truly standalone offerings drawing in outside custom. Such restaurants have a high revenue earning potential as well as priceless publicity for the hotel,” she said.
Balekjian said F&B revenue within the boutique hotel sector could account for up to 50 per cent of total sales and that having a high-profile restaurant attached to the property, like Nuno Mendes’ Viajante at the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel, or Wolfgang Puck at 45 Park Lane, acts as a strong marketing tool.
She said: “In some instances guests book rooms to ensure ease of access into these areas and more boutique properties are likely to capitalise on this.”
The HVS report also suggests that developing ‘clubs’ for frequent guests could enhance the ‘exclusive aura’ boutique hotels have.
“Boutique hotels have become popular with guests partly because they offer a unique experience. In order to reinforce that feeling of exclusivity they will increasingly look to create a form of private space within the hotel, or introduce a club ‘network’, similar to a loyalty club, which would give the member access to various privileges,” said Balekjian.
HVS said the boom in boutique hotels over the past decade had been fuelled largely by guests’ desire for more of a ‘stylish and exclusive offering’ with more of a personal service rather than a commoditised product.
Key boutique hotel openings for London:
- Aloft London Excel (Aloft by Starwood) – October 2011
- Dorset Square Hotel, Marylebone (Firmdale Hotels) – January 2012
- Hotel Indigo Cannon Srreet (IHG) – January 2012
- Hotel Indigo Philpot Lane (IHG) – January 2012
- Hotel Indigo Kensington (IHG) – January 2012
- City Road Hotel, Hackney (Soneva Properties) – January 2012
- Bulgari Hotel, Knightsbridge (Bulgari by Ritz-Carlton) – March 2012
- ME London, Holborn (Melia) – May/June 2012
- The Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross – November 2012
- London Edition by Marriott (Marriott) – January 2013
- South Place Hotel, the City (D&D London) – January 2013