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What Makes an Apartment ‘Boutique’? | Boutique Apartments in DC

What Makes an Apartment ‘Boutique’?

  |     |   Apartment Living

Boutique Apartments are a growing trend both in the United States and abroad, and DC apartments are no exception. You’ve probably the word used frequently in advertisements and listings and be wondering “what exactly makes an apartment boutique?” Merriam Webster offers two definitions of the word:

  • A small shop dealing in fashionable clothes or accessories
  • A small company that offers highly specialized service or products

Neither of these definitions really fits the bill when it comes to apartments, so we wanted to offer our thoughts on what makes an apartment building “boutique.”

Where did Boutique Apartments Come From?

boutique apartment

Using “boutique” to describe living spaces started in the hotel industry back in the 1980's. Some hotels in major urban centers in the US and Europe began using the label to highlight their unique, one-of-a-kind character. Other industries have even adopted the term with ‘boutique salons,’ boutique ‘law firms,’ and even ‘boutique investment brokerages,’ lining the streets of major cities across the globe. Today, boutique apartments and hotels are usually small buildings with a number of very distinct rooms or units. But there’s so much more to it than that.

Boutiques are Unique

To call an apartment building boutique implies that it has a variety of units that are distinct from one another, both in floor plan and decorative style. A building with dozens of floors housing units with the same one to three floor plans, fixtures, finishes, and appliances don’t really qualify. This diversity makes residents feel like their unit is genuinely their own, and gives them a broader selection to choose from when moving in.

Interior & Exterior Styling

Most boutique apartments make clever use of their interiors and exteriors to set themselves apart from the run-of-the-mill units. In many cases, this involves taking a historic building and all the character it brings and outfitting the interior with luxurious modern finishes and amenities. This allows residents to enjoy a charming and fashionable building with all the modern comforts. On the interior, historical elements like aged wood, exposed pipes, and other elements create stylish contrast with modern finishes like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. On the outside, the historical elements are often left untouched so long as they are in good shape, though you’ll see some modern touches like controlled access terminals.


location of boutique apartments in DC

Boutique apartments often exist in neighborhoods where other boutique offerings are available. Usually, near urban centers, these buildings will be nearby a collection of small, unique cafes, shopping, and local service providers. These areas allow the apartments’ occupants to have the boutique experience even outside their home. With so many small, local options for various goods and service nearby, residents feel like they have their very own corner of the city offering them a unique experience to anywhere else.


Another major draw to this style of apartment is an emphasis on amenities. You’ll find things like rooftop decks, uber waiting rooms, and package concierge services. These amenities give the building’s a sense of luxury, and help set them apart from other communities by offering one-of-a-kind experiences and conveniences.

boutique apartment amenities


Though not a strict requirement, we believe that a boutique apartment should be managed with a higher level of care. It’s a critical piece in the puzzle to creating that unique experience for residents that attracted them to a boutique apartment in the first place. Apartment buildings should feel like communities and not a collection of boxes where people pay to have a place to rest their head at the end of the day. Maintenance and service requests should be responded too quickly, and the personnel on-site should be friendly, professional, and personable.

Boutique Apartment Myths

Boutique can be a loaded term that leads one to make certain assumptions that aren't necessarily true. Here are a couple of common ones that we feel we should dispel.

Boutique Doesn't Mean Small

Some people think a boutique apartment is one that is small, but charming. That is not necessarily the case; boutique apartments come in all shapes and sizes. In our opinion, it’s the uniqueness, decor, and location that make the difference.

modern boutique apartments in DC

Boutique Doesn't Mean Expensive, Either

“Boutique” is also not synonymous with “expensive.” Many people value having a building and unit that offers a different experience, amenities, and overall style than they are used to. For many, this brings a lot of value, and the units themselves are usually priced competitively for their areas.

Find the Perfect Boutique Apartment in DC

If you’re in the market for a boutique apartment in the Washington, DC area, you’ll find plenty of options spread across the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. If you are having trouble finding the perfect apartment for you, feel free to use our apartment search tool to browse our collection of unique apartments in the city!

Just select the type of apartment you are looking for, and you’ll be on your way. Of course, you can also schedule a tour now.

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