Boutique style from chic to chill

New to Chic Retreats: Relais Masseria Petrusella, Puglia


Colour, as anyone who’s ever decorated will know, is vital to the overall feel and atmosphere of a room. Hotels use colour to create space, warmth and light and to differentiate one area from another. Many mainstream hotels opt to keep their decor neutral, offsetting it with colours in curtain and bedding fabrics, but boutique hotels are more daring, using colour to define the hotel’s style as well as its ambience. Neutral colours are popular everywhere, with accents of brighter colours to lift the room, but many hotels choose darker, more opulent colours and bright modern colours to complement the overall theme of the building.

Texture and materials

Texture is important in design and it helps to reflect a boutique hotel’s personality. Whether it’s the warmth of wood or the sterility of stainless steel, the materials and textures used help to define the type of hotel it’s trying to be. Minimalist hotels often use smooth textures and industrial materials, whilst those encouraging their guests to really relax will choose sumptuous fabrics and tactile furnishings. Leather, cotton, velvet in the furnishings and limestone, wood or marble on the floors all define a sense of design and luxury that turns an ordinary hotel into a special one.


Some boutique hotels are obviously themed whilst others are subtle, but a single design theme is usually carried throughout all aspects of the hotel in order to achieve a sense of individual personality and style. A deliberately obvious theme, such as music or literature, will manifest itself in the way the public spaces are designed and used – a music room, or a guest library – as well as in the room names and décor and the types of activities available to guests. A more subtle theme will be evidenced in carefully chosen accessories, complimentary welcome packages or services and dining areas.

The great thing about boutique hotels is that every one is different. Whilst there are common elements such as design and service that distinguish this type of hotel from the mainstream, what really makes a boutique hotel boutique should be evident as soon as you walk through the door. Take a look at the styles and designs that have helped us to select some of the best small hotels in the world, by looking at our online collection.

Andrew is a firm believer that travelling like a local inevitably leads to the best off-the-beaten-path finds which truly make a destination remarkably more memorable. From traditional Indian festivals in humid Hyderabad to fresh seafood pasta by the Sorrentine Peninsula, he appreciates variety when travelling. He hasn't been everywhere, but it’s on the list.