Small Luxury Hotels of the World Celebrates 20 Years of Growth

By Paul Joseph

When online hotels directory Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) was founded in 1992, it had just 70 hotels in 5 destinations worldwide. Today the brand boasts more than 520 boutique properties across more than 70 countries.

The website, which receives 12,000 new applications every year, from which 50 to 60 are chosen, is exclusively reserved for unique, independent hotels offering a requisite level of luxury, service and experience.

From a wolves and grizzlies safari in Wyoming and truffle hunting in Italy to elephant trekking in Thailand, SLH offer visitors inspiration for exploring unique destinations, fully endorsed by the website’s rigorous selection process.

In the year of its 20th anniversary, it seems the perfect time to take a step back and assess SLH’S contribution to an ever-growing sector of the luxury industry. Speaking excusively to, SLH founder and CEO Paul Kerr discussed the brand’s success and what luxury means to him.

“Basically what we’re after is a hotel which is one of the best, if not the best in a city or area,” said Mr Kerr.

“We have three development directors around the world, so one of them visits the hotel, meets the general manager, stays there, and assesses whether they are going to be good enough.

“It needs to be a substantial hotel, not here today gone tomorrow.”

As well as a standard rate to be listed on the site, SLH also take a 6% commission on every electric booking. This fee structure, which is the same for every hotel, has enabled the site to grow year on year – in terms of both size and revenue – since its creation.

In response to this growth, the company has expanded its network of offices, recently appointing representation in India, opening a regional office in Singapore and relocating its head office from Surrey to Central London.

Mr Kerr believes that the key to future success is a combination of traditional forms of marketing, and embracing social media and wireless technology, offering the consumer increased choice in an accessible, user-friendly manner.

So when all is said and done, what does Mr Kerr consider to be the components of a great luxury hotel?

“The essentials for me are destination - the hotel must fit in with the environment," Mr Kerr said.

"It cant be a blot on the landscape and must display what I call ‘caring luxury’.

“Also, staff with great local knowledge so they can suggest great things to do that you may otherwise miss out on.

“And then there are the small touches, like wireless, free water, and exercise facilities.”

With SLH already established as one of the resounding success stories of e-commerce, any aspirational hotels around the world would do well to sit up and listen.

"It needs to be a substantial hotel, not here today gone tomorrow"

Paul Kerr, Founder and CEO of SLH


"It needs to be a substantial hotel, not here today gone tomorrow"

Paul Kerr, Founder and CEO of SLH
By Paul Joseph