Miss Clara in Stockholm showcases how a true boutique hotel should be like and which services it should be offering
The widely used term ’boutique hotel’, might be among the biggest hospitality trends, however, it continues to have a rather vague meaning, without any clearly specified characteristics and expectations. Today, more and more hotels tend to call themselves ’boutique’, as this can automatically make them more attractive to the travellers. But, as the global hotel market grows, it is now clearer than ever, that the term ’boutique hotel’ must be accurately specified.
When the term first appeared, the hotels that were described as ’boutique’, were usually smaller-scale properties which focused on special design and inspired aesthetics. However, in the course of time, the meaning of ’boutique’ required more characteristics, like, for example, personalized service and more special facilities. As a result, the term ’boutique hotels’ has now evolved into ’boutique hospitality!’
In order to approach the true meaning of a ’boutique hotel’, we visited Miss Clara in Stockholm, which is a real-life case study, both in design and experience levels. In less than 2 years, Miss Clara has managed to become one of the most popular accommodation choices in Stockholm and a valuable example of a true boutique hotel, which teaches and inspires the global hospitality industry.
But, which are the main features that make Miss Clara a perfect example of a boutique hotel? Let’s find out.
The hotel’s creators showed great respect to the building’s history, developing the truly unique “Miss Clara Concept”
It is generally accepted that a boutique hotel should have a specific and easily recognizable ‘story’, that will shape the guests’ experience and inspire the visitors. The story of Miss Clara starts from its name, since Ms Clara Strömberg is an actual person that was a living landmark for the building for many years. More specifically, the building which today hosts the hotel, was, for more than 40 years, an exclusive school for girls. One of its most dynamic headmistresses was Clara Strömberg, who was also a powerful source of inspiration for all the girls that went to the school. The hotel’s creators, not only did they respect the building’s important history, but made Miss Clara a symbol for the hotel, creating a truly unique concept.
The hotel’s design showcases a mixture of architectural elements from more than 100 years, giving to the property its unique character
The building of Miss Clara has a predefined design perspective, since it was originally designed in 1910 by the architects Hagström & Ekman, who focused on the biggest trend of the era, Art Nouveau. This is already a very strong feature that underlines the hotel’s boutique character. However, the hotel’s creators did not just rely on that. Investing in the contemporary development of the building, they cooperated with the famous Swedish architect Gert Wingårdh, who was in charge of developing Miss Clara’s design concept. Preserving several of the original building’s ‘classic’ elements, like the beautiful floors in the common areas and the grande staircase of the old school, Gert Wingårdh created a modern hotel with a true place identity, which plays a very important role in creating a unique boutique experience.
The services of Miss Clara are unexpected and create memorable and photo-worthy experiences
As we have already mentioned, a boutique hotel must focus on providing the unexpected, through special and unique services — a fact that Miss Clara seems to know perfectly well. As you enter your room, one thing draws your immediate attention: a tray, which was deliberately placed on the bed. This image makes you want to take a photo but also look for the menu, since you definitely want to eat in the bed now! The surprises don’t stop, as you will soon discover that you can even order a pizza from the next-door “Giro Pizzeria“, which is ranked by Gambero Rosso as the best Neapolitan pizza in Stockholm! Of course, if you had read the hotel’s reviews prior to your arrival, you are more likely to already know about this feature, since it is something that is very often mentioned in the various guest reviews, proving the positing impact it has on the guests. After all, creating unique and original experiences is a vital turning point for a boutique hotel, since this is exactly what a modern traveller looks for. Even though in-room dining is very important for Miss Clara, there are also several other unexpected facilities that give to the experience its unique character, such as the special pillow to use when sitting by the window and admiring the view, as well as the excellent hotel amenities from a local brand, that you will definitely look to buy at the airport, to take back home!
The hotel’s restaurant is a talk–of–the-town, adding even more to the whole experience
A boutique hotel’s restaurant is one of its more important departments. The breakfast, as well as the overall ambiance of the space, are, by far, the most defining elements for its evaluation by the guests. As expected, Miss Clara has an amazing breakfast, as well as a beautifully designed restaurant. This is where you can have one of the best breakfasts in the city — something which is totally normal, as Miss Clara’s restaurant is already ranked among the most popular restaurants in Stockholm. The always full restaurant gives a feeling of socializing, which makes the hotel guests feel the positive vibes of the city and live an amazing staying experience. What is also very important is the fact that the carefully designed space does not allow the restaurant’s clients to interfere with the hotel guests’ experience, transforming this very vivid space into another boutique advantage.
Even though the service is excellent, there is no staff!
The people of a hotel are the ones that shape the largest part of the guest experience. When staying in a boutique hotel, the guests expect to receive a personalized service, that will make them feel like they are staying at a local house. And this is exactly what Miss Clara has managed to achieve, for many reasons. First of all, choosing fresh and happy faces, immediately makes the guests feel welcome and familiar with the hotel. The more ‘relaxed’ uniforms have also their part in this, since the outfits do not remind of people working at a company, but people who are actually ready to host you. Even though there is a reception desk, the staff tend to move around it as well, offering a more direct and easy-going experience, which is further enhanced by the low lighting. In contrary with most hotels, when you ask something in your room (like, for example, an iron for your clothes), you will most probably receive it from the same person that was on the front desk — a fact that makes the personal touch even stronger and more apparent. Miss Clara has managed to offer a high quality service, and made its people looking like real hosts, approaching the term of ’boutique hospitality’ in the best possible way.
A ‘boutique‘ conclusion
Following the example of Miss Clara, boutique hotels must develop their own unique stories, as well as their individual hospitality concepts. Boutique hotels are not only defined by their design, but also from the unique experiences they want to offer, which should be mainly shaped by the hotel’s positive energy and desire for providing true and high-level hospitality!