In the world of Chinese luxury accommodations, boutique style hotels appear to be many travelers’ top choice. Boutique hotels in China are a hybrid mixture of Western and Chinese style that cohesively and comfortably incorporate a number of traditions.
While boutique hotels began to surface in the 1980s in Europe and the US, they are still a new attraction in China. One such hotel opened this year in the Qianmen district of Beijing. The Emperor, a water-themed boutique hotel, is the second hotel designed by American architect Adam Sokol.
Sokol explained to Global Times that the theme for the boutique was inspired by the cities recent drought. The design features an indoor “rain alley” (a walkway with artificial rain), an underground spa, an open air swimming pool, and interior decorative motifs related to water.
Sokol said that he looks for projects “with a strong conceptual or experimental basis,” and that he wasn’t looking to make the hotel simply Chinese or Western, but a combination of the two.
He said he hopes that guests will foster some sort of connection with the hotel. “I do think it is important, or even essential, to create something that can address itself even to its neighborhood, in some way. A project that fails to connect with people [and loved by the people] on some level will fail.”
Another boutique hotel, Dhouse, sits in the West Lake neighborhood of Hangzhou. Dhouse is a redesigned folk house that now features different themes such as Bohemian, Mediterranean and Subtropical rooms. Jiang Peng, designer and investor, says that while the boutique has only seven rooms, it functions in many capacities.
Peng says that aside from using the house as a hotel, they also rent rooms for other events like karaoke nights, parties, or social gatherings. They also rent space to students for use as an art studio.
Though he is confident in his business, Peng says that his hotel and other boutique-style hotels are a work in progress. “Sometimes I myself think about this question: why did I choose a boutique hotel over a luxury five-star hotel? But we need to decide this in the beginning: Besides the special design, we need to explore some future trends, and the young people’s changing demands and preferences. We are still studying successful examples from abroad.”
Though many Chinese consumers are currently attracted to luxury five-star hotels and chains with name recognition, boutiques are beginning to come into their own. As these niche businesses display an affinity for providing an original and relaxing guest experience, they will work their way into the mainstream.
Li Yang, a Dhouse investor, mirrors this sentiment saying that boutique hotels possess a sort of originality that other hotels just don’t. “China is developing rapidly now, but ideas are overused in many places.”
image credit: theemperor.com.cn