Old buildings for new boutiques


Whilst the majority of new chain hotels are often built from scratch, or simply updated from previous hotels, many boutiques choose to operate from historic or unusual premises. Often, the type of building the hotel is in informs the design, facilities and services. It’s the building and its location that often provides the draw for guests.

Private houses

Many boutiques have been created from private houses. In cities, it’s often the town house that undergoes renovation, with owners keeping key design features such as moulded ceilings and stained glass windows. Older houses have rooms with fantastic proportions, making them ideal hotel rooms and their central location is very attractive to holiday makers and business travellers alike. Rural homes, chalets or lake-side villas also give the guest a true feeling of home-from-home, whilst providing a luxurious retreat.

Listed buildings

Listed buildings in the UK and their equivalents around the world are popular choices with boutique hotel owners. This is because they have a wealth of original features and are often in perfect locations. Listed buildings also come with their own planning and refurbishment rules and regulations which mean that owners have to work within strict guidelines when it comes to design. This in turn leads to innovative problem solving, enhancing the appeal of the hotel.

Industrial buildings

These buildings often provide the greatest scope for design and therefore ooze individuality and charm. The great spaces mean that rooms can be large and contemporary, whilst the design reflects the previous use of the building. These buildings are often right in the middle of areas undergoing redevelopment and are perfect for creating a boutique hotel.

Religious buildings

Disused chapels, monasteries and convents are all buildings that can be brought to new life as boutique hotels. The simplicity of these buildings means that they are sympathetic to many design styles and their cool interiors, impressive stonemasonry and woodwork are the perfect canvass for a new design. Often in rural settings, these buildings provide an excellent opportunity for boutique hotel owners.

The change in the economical make-up of many countries means that older, beautiful buildings are increasingly being released by businesses, which are reducing workforces or moving to newer, cheaper premises. This leaves a wealth of stunning architecture that can be put to good use as small, independent hotels.

To find a hotel with a difference for your next trip, take a look at the Chic Retreats 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.