Defining the budget boutique hotel sector

Roxane Gergaud of Doris & Dicky investigates the ‘budget boutique’ phenomenon.

The term ‘budget boutique’ is something of an oxymoron, with many asking the question – is the design, personality and level of service that is synonymous with ’boutique’ hotels possible on a budget?

Well, the answer is most definitely yes – as demonstrated by the wave of new and fabulous budget boutique hotels that are opening across the world. From super-stylish design hotels like Hotel Alexandra in Copenhagen’s Nansensgade neighourhood or C.O.Q Hotel in Paris’s up-and-coming Place d’Italie district through to stunning eco-vibe retreats like Mango Bay Resort on Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island and El Patio 77 in Mexico city. There are properties like these popping-up in every corner of the globe to meet this growing demand for luxe for less.

Affordable luxury
The emerging budget boutique hotel sector is bringing in new, younger customers to what has traditionally been a more expensive segment of the hotel market. Part of a broader travel trend, this desire for ‘affordable luxury’ reflects the aspirations of many holidaymakers who are seeking premium experiences at a price they can afford. What’s more, with the rise of “Generation Easyjet” there are a growing number of travellers happy to economise on flights or transport in order to be able to trade-up on accommodation and experiences once there.

What is budget?
‘Budget’ means different things to different people but, for us, it’s around about the £100/night mark. For some a budget boutique hotel is a trade-up from their usual hotel choice – a special treat for a birthday, anniversary or honeymoon but one they can afford. Whilst for others, a budget boutique hotel is a great way to bag a bargain for a last minute weekend away – a relatively cheap option when compared to their usual holidays that they don’t have to think too much about.

So who are the customers?
We set up Doris & Dicky having grown tired of how long it would take to find small, charming and interesting hotels without the luxury price tag. We’d spend hours trawling the internet – seeking out hidden gems, trying to work out which reviews to trust and then hunting down the best price. When we realised most of our friends were doing the same thing we set about developing a solution focused on people similar to us – young professionals. However, what has quickly emerged is that the market is actually far broader than this. Whether it’s empty nesters looking to spend their newfound free time traveling, or young families seeking great kid-friendly rather than kid-focused hotels – the market is essentially anyone who wants a boutique hotel at a price they can afford. Perhaps more surprisingly, there is also strong demand from corporate customers many of whom have grown tired of staying in soulless chain hotels when travelling regularly for business.

Authentic experiences
The rise of Airbnb has tapped into a growing aspiration to live like a local and experience the best that any given destination has to offer. Travellers are placing increasing value on experiences over the amenities of their accommodation and boutique hotels deliver perfectly against this. With their smaller size and passionate owners – boutique hotels offer that personal and authentic experience for guests but with the safety and flexibility of a hotel.  This authenticity is a key part of the product offering for the new wave of budget boutique hotels.

Budget boutique hotels
Despite being lower-cost, budget boutique hotels share most of the features of their pricier counterparts. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, with most independently run and each offering something special – from incredible design, artwork or architecture to a great spa or beautiful pool. But as with all boutique hotels, it is the service that sets them apart – personal, professional, friendly and authentic. So why the lower price tag?  Well, discussing exactly this with a budget boutique hotelier recently – his take on it was that of course he could probably charge double for his rooms but what would it mean? Probably that the type of clientele would change, expectations would certainly increase and he could well find himself called to serve guests champagne on ice at 3am in the morning. For him, budget boutique is actually about prioritising the type of guests he attracts – independent travellers who are keen to experience something authentic and special at a price they can afford.

A bit about Doris & Dicky…
Doris & Dicky offers a curated selection of the best budget boutique hotels from across the world for around £100/night. Founders Roxane and Richard had the idea for the site having grown tired of how long it would take to find small, charming and independent hotels that they could actually afford. For more budget boutique hotels for around £100/night, see

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