Password instructions will be e-mailed to you
Confirmation will be e-mailed to you
Lost Password

Share This Post

Vacation Rental Styling

8 Design Ideas to Steal from Boutique Hotels for Your Airbnb

When we work with our short-term rental clients for the first time, we start out by sending them a questionnaire; one question is “have you checked out the boutique hotels in your area?” They almost always say no, whereupon we give them their first assignment –

Do it!

If they don’t have one in their area, we ask them to google “boutique hotel” in the nearest city or town and study the property images. More boutique hotels open all the time and they get loads of media buzz so there is plenty of design fodder from which to take inspiration and soak up hospitality tricks.

By studying boutique hotels our clients grasp what it takes to be the best. Boutique hotels hire snazzy design firms to brainstorm their pads, outfitting them with the latest and greatest. Being on par with your boutique hotel siblings will ensure you get to #1 on the listing sites, blowing away all your competition.

We settle for nothing less for our clients.

And our bragging right is we do it A LOT less expensively.

So without further ado, let’s dive into some boutique hotel trends and steal some design ideas you can apply to your own Airbnb or vacation rental…

1. Color, Color, and More Color!

As most of you should know by now, WE LOVE COLOR!

It’s amazing how many of our clients come to us asking for a consultation on how to elevate their Airbnb in order to stand out in what is fast becoming a saturated short-term rental market.

What always surprises us is how the majority of their spaces – about 90% – are (wait for it)…..


Beige carpets, beige sofas, beige pillows, beige walls. Who knew there were so many shades of beige?

Does it get more boring than that?


If you have a moment, try an experiment:

  1. Pick any place in the world to which you’d like to travel
  2. Look at the short-term listings available
  3. Take the time to scroll down until you get bored
  4. Tell us how many of them are predominantly beige (leave the number in the comment section below just for comparison).

I’m willing to bet it all became a sea of earth-toned beiges.

So be different! Embrace color!

Color is the way to go 99.999999% of the time. It gets people’s pulse racing, wakes up their senses, makes them excited. For example, don’t you feel pretty happy looking at this room?

It feels like looking at Friday, right?

1 chic retreat features kit kemp

Don’t be afraid to embrace bold, vibrant colors! Kit Kemp, the designer and co-owner of the Ferndale Hotels, uses saturated colors – hot pink, purple, blues and blacks – in contrasting fabrics and patterns to all her interiors. As a result, her hotels are among the most photographed (and shared on social media) in the world. Hamyard Hotel

One such example is Kit Kemp’s Firmdale Hotels, which simply kill it with color. And her hotels are among thousands more doing the same. Sometimes it’s done boldly and other times it’s employed subtly, but it’s there because boutique hotels understand the power of color on amped up bookings.

People don’t necessarily want that much color in their own home, but on vacation? Bring it on!

2. Wallpaper on the Wall Behind the Bed

This is one of our trademark booking-magnet secrets and it’s a no-brainer.

You take an otherwise basic bedroom, paste an eye-catching wallpaper behind the bed, and suddenly it becomes jaw-dropping. Jaw dropping equals growth-hormone bookings.

Boutique hotels know this secret well, which is why you see it so often.

An awesome benefit of the one-wallpapered-wall technique is it’s not a big financial commitment  – less paper and less labor – than doing all four walls.


The blue ikat wallpaper in the nvbg evokes a seaside vibe to the room.

Whitehall in Camden, Maine, one of The Lark Hotel’s properties, features one wall of ikat blue wallpaper behind the beds of some guestrooms. The juxtaposition between the crisp blue graphics and the bright white walls around is breathtaking.

3. Hanging Bedside Lights

Another way to stand out from the murmuring crowd is to skip the bedside table lamps altogether and put in hanging bedside lights instead.

It’s unexpected and therefore unique and cool and guests want to take photos of themselves in bed and show off next to amazing hanging lights.

Another Instagram opportunity!

You don’t have to necessarily hardwire them in either. Hanging cords are fine, such as the ones found in The Line Hotel below.

1 Chic Retreat features The Line Hotel

The Line Hotel’s chic bedside lights hang dynamically from the walls and ceiling.

4. Space Savings Wall Pegs

Lots of our clients have Airbnbs with small footprints – tiny bedrooms, tiny kitchens, etc. – so we have to brainstorm space-saving ideas. One way to do that is to eliminate closets, which aren’t strictly necessary because guests don’t bring a lot of stuff with them.

What’s the alternative? Thought about wall pegs?

Apparently the Moxy Hotel has. After all, New York real estate has one of the highest per square foot/meter price in the USA, so wall pegs were installed in all the bedrooms. Kind of ingenious, right?

1 Chic Retreat features Moxy Hotel Chelsea

The Moxy Hotel in Chelsea has forgone closets and instead sport wall pegs for guest’s clothes. Another space saving device is the use of hanging the table and chair that can be hung on the wall when not in use.

1 chic retreat features Moxy Chelsea

The beadboard resists scratching from hangers and clothes.

5. The Luggage Rack – a hotel staple

The luggage rack is one item you absolutely must provide for your guests for your sake as much as theirs. It’s the first item guests look for when entering the bedroom. If you don’t have one, guess where people tend to put their dirty suitcase?

You got it – on top of the bed!

Your poor bed linens!!

Luggage racks should be sturdy and attractive. We favor the wood ones that fold up neatly in the closet; when guests are finished unpacking, they can store them away to make more room for themselves.

Be sure to supply one luggage rack per guest.

luggage racks 1 chic retreat

The luggage rack is one of the very first items guests seek when entering an Airbnb or vacation rental. Have one or you risk them putting dirty suitcases on your bed linens. Yikes! We love this leather one at the WANÅS RESTAURANT HOTEL in Skåne, Sweden.

Airbnb luggage racks

The Explora Hotel in Patagonia features bench-like luggage racks at the foots of their beds.

Bright white luggage racks are a guaranteed hit because they go with most decor styles. The best thing about this one is it’s sturdy and will last YEARS. 1 Chic Retreat Marketplace

7. Install a Wainscotting (or the Illusion of One)

Walls can be boring, especially all painted the same color. People crave texture, pattern, and geometric variety.

Wainscotting is one way to jazz up a room.

If you don’t have the budget for the real thing (and let’s be honest, most Airbnb owners don’t), install a faux wainscotting.

Here’s one way to do it:

Embrace two different paint colors (contrast is key), a trim piece and the rule of thirds. By rule of thirds, we mean, paint either the bottom 1/3 of the room one color and the top 2/3’s a contrasting color OR the bottom 2/3’s one color and the top 1/3 a contrasting one.

The Eaton Hotel in Washington DC illustrates this technique well in their guestrooms. Check it out…

1 Chic Retreat features the Eaton

The Eaton Hotel’s room feature a faux wainscotting – the bottom 2/3’s of the room is painted a sand color, divided by a trim piece painted in brown, with a lighter, cream upper third. The result is a dazzling dimensionality.

8. Include a Hand-Drawn Rendering in Your Listing Photos

Including a hand-rendered drawing of a room in your Airbnb or vacation rental is a stunningly unique way to get eye-balls on your listing and virtually no one does it.

I have never seen it, have you?

Why not be the first?

It’s not even that common for hotels, but the Maison de la Luz in New Orleans has figured it out splendidly.

maison de la luz 1 Chic Retreat

The Maison de la Luz in New Orleans features hand-drawn renderings of all their guest rooms on the main page of their website. Old school all the way!

How to do it: take a good photo of one of your favorite rooms (make sure it’s well-designed) and give it to an art student or find someone on Fiverr or 99 Designs to hand-draw it and voila, you launch yourself into the universe of awesome uniqueness.

There’s loads more inspiration but I’m stopping here

I could go on and on, folks. There are so many design ideas from which to take inspiration. But I don’t want to overwhelm you. And plus, you are resourceful so I trust that you’ll take our advice and start checking out boutique hotel design trends. I guarantee you will find some ideas not included here that you can apply to your own Airbnb.

And when you do, please share below. We all learn from one another!

The post 8 Design Ideas to Steal from Boutique Hotels for Your Airbnb appeared first on 1 Chic Retreat.

Share This Post