Today the term often describes smaller specialist investment banks involved in company mergers and acquisitions. According to Wikipedia, these deals are typically on the smaller scale of ‘under a billion dollars.’ Chicken feed in other words.
The word ‘boutique’ apparently originated in 18th-century France and referred to a small shop. The term was adopted by trendy fashion outlets in the 1960s and later by smaller, stylish hotels keen to promote an individual approach to hospitality.
Today, all sorts of third-rate hotels call themselves boutique in the belief it gives them added cachet. But what does the word signify for the more successful, award-winning examples of the genre?
Huw Rees and his partner Sam Prosser gave up corporate lifestyles five years ago to buy The Old Rectory on the Exmoor Coast of North Devon. “It was all very chintzy and dated,” recalls Huw. “We set about creating a hotel that was intimate and personal and quite style driven in terms of décor.”
Each of the ten bedrooms is individually decorated and the hotel has managed to retain its long-standing guests. “One couple have been returning regularly for 24 years and they are pleased with what we have achieved,” says Huw.
He believes personal service is a prerequisite in a boutique hotel and creates a house-party atmosphere by having a single-sitting for dinner preceded by drinks and canapés.
Bathrooms suites in dreaded avocado greeted Jonathan and Caroline Kaye when they took over Cedar Manor Hotel in Windermere. In just a few years the couple have transformed the Victorian country retreat and won awards for its striking new look created by local interior designer Alison Tordoff.
Each room is different and has bespoke, handmade furniture, and Sony iphone and ipod docks along with flat-screen TV, DVD and wi-fi.
For Tara Howard, MD of Langtry Manor in Bournemouth, boutique means “an individual, unique hotel with its own character and identity, that’s not part of a chain and offers a more personal service.”
Built by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) for his mistress, the actress and music hall stage star Lillie Langtry, the 27-room hotel was acquired by Tara’s parents 35 years ago. “It’s undergone a metamorphosis in recent years,” she says. “Older guests appreciate the Edwardian elegance, but we’re now attracting younger people looking for contemporary style – somewhere cool.”
Goodness knows how the world of banking got in on the boutique act. What would Captain Mainwaring have thought?« View all blog articles.