"Ambient Music" being played in boutique hotels is a bit of a cliche, but the problem is that boutique hotels don't really play ambient music. Over the last few years I've stayed in a number of these hotels, from New Orleans to Chicago to London to Stockholm and etc. The lobbies are all generally Scandinavian, except I think of the places I've stayed recently the hotel that looked least like it lept out of an IKEA catalog was the one in Sweden.
Furnishing aside, the soundtrack is ubiquitous. And it's always the kind of cut-rate, chill-out room at the rave kind of nonsense in all of them. Back in the days when I used to go to parties, we would call it lounge music. It ranges from the slightly more upbeat stuff with a rhythm track down to the spacey, new age fluff those of you who read this blog are probably familiar with.
And every time I've come across this stuff, I think it's just such a missed opportunity. Getting into the elevator, it would just be so great to hear some Eno, or Stars of the Lid, or Loscil, or Taylor Deupree. The experience design of these places would be that much better had someone who knew what they were doing programmed the soundtrack. Unfortunately, despite the high room rates, fancy furniture, and aloof staff, you end up feeling more like you're in a knock-off tshirt shop on 34th street than a world class hotel.