Love is in the Air; Boutique Hotel Signage Will Get You There

February 2020


It’s the month of love, a romantic getaway at a boutique hotel, offering more than the run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter experience may be perfect for the curious couple looking to spice things up this holiday.

What is a Boutique Hotel?

A term coined in the 80s when the now-closed Morgan Hotel in NYC was compared to visiting a boutique retail shop, boutique hotels are characterized by more personalized, intimate service. The style, design, and personality usually reflect the surrounding community or have a theme derived from the location or history of the property. (US News & World Report)

A “true” boutique hotel has a few distinct characteristics as described by TripSavvy — they usually have not many more than 100 rooms, boast a quirky, modern vibe and are rich in local flavor. Boutique hotels are often pet-friendly, pride themselves on hospitality and include a bar and restaurant that draws locals and guests alike. A boutique hotel is that one-of-kind place to take your one-in-a-million.

Genuine Boutique Hotels in Iowa

For the true boutique hotel experience, check out places like the Hotel Indigo Los Angeles (is this in LA? If so…) in downtown LA, which pays homage to the city in the 1920’S. Or two Iowa hotels with great signage. First, the Historic Park Inn, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel built-in 1910 that was brought back to its original glory in 2014 by our friends at Bergland + Cram. This 27-room boutique hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 70’s. The signage throughout uses all-natural metals and woods in its prairie-style design for the true look of the era.

And most recently, Hotel Grinnell, a boutique hotel whose past life, built in 1921 as a school, is reflected in the design and décor. From original hardwood floors to room keys that look like hall passes, it’s historically trendy (is historically trendy a contradiction of terms?)and checks all the boxes of what a boutique hotel should be.

Owner and operator of Hotel Grinnell, Angela Harrington, found a way to bring elements of the building’s history into the interior in many other ways, like chalkboards in the guest rooms (ideal for writing love notes to your significant other *wink, wink) while exterior signage was designed to align with the brand image.

Watch for the pop of the black and white sign, a focal point, beckoning you from the front of Hotel Grinnell. The clean, crisp look was a large part of the success of the signage project, but also a factor in hotel signage, or any public accommodations for that matter, is the adherence to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

How do you Ensure ADA-Compliant Boutique Hotel Signage?

It’s critically important for hotel owners to comply with ADA requirements. Not only is it against the law not to, but it’s also necessary to ensure ALL guests, regardless of visual impairment or disability, have a delightful stay.

Kristin Adkins, ADA expert, comments that "being ADA compliant can be extra tricky when it's a historical renovation because often a historic building was built in a way that do not meet current accessibility guidelines." Here's a couple of challenges she runs into on historic renovations.

2 ADA Compliance Challenges in Historical Renovations

  1. Install location for ADA compliant signage isn't possible due to the building architecture and alternatives must be sought out.
  2. Lack of accessible travel path through the building requires additional signage to direct visitors to accessible entrances, then direct to accessible means to navigate within the building itself.

Hotel Business outlines a comprehensive list of considerations when developing ADA-compliant signage.

Penalties for non-compliance can amount to tens of thousands of dollars, but people who are visually impaired or disabled are truly the ones who are penalized when hotels fail to work with experienced signage companies to meet requirements.

As “public accommodations,” hotels top the list of businesses required to comply with ADA and ignorance of the law is not a defense. It’s critical to have a signage partner who makes it their job to know the laws and proactively avoid any design and install challenges before they become major problems.

Looking for a Romantic Getaway?

Skip the crowds and long waits at your typical spots and instead, embrace the quaint vibe of a boutique hotel. Just the follow the signs – they’ll get you there!

The romance is up to you, but if you want to talk to an expert about signage and ADA Guidelines... Click here to find your expert today.

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