The boutique hotel booking service Mr & Mrs Smith, which recently launched in Australia, is a slick marketing machine – and travellers need to be wary, writes AT publisher Quentin Long. The fundamental business of Mr & Mrs Smith is as a marketing service for boutique hotels – not as a guidebook, as they so earnestly claim.

To me, it’s a way for two posh toffees and their friends to enjoy some of the best hotels in the world for free. Actually no, hold on a minute;

these best hotels in the world are actually paying for the honour of hosting them at their establishments. That’s just ingenious.

On their website, Mr & Mrs Smith claim:

“We’ve hand-picked the best boutique hotels and luxury hotels to ensure you find the perfect romantic getaway.”

Complete rubbish. They have not been handpicked; they pay to be included. Where is the handpicking in that?

Other debatable claims include: “Mr & Mrs Smith is the UK’s No.1 boutique hotel guide…” and “Every boutique hotel has been visited by a Smith team member before being reviewed anonymously (and thoroughly) by a couple”.
Both, again, rubbish and probably.

The Mr & Mrs Smith content is paid-for editorial, pure and simple. A “guide” implies that all suitable properties will be included – that there’s some objectivity and independence – not “paid to be included”.

The anonymous review is also questionable. My sources have revealed that they were informed of the visiting “tastemaster” well before the lucky guest’s arrival.


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The most relevant example I can give travellers is Jonah’s Whale Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

This is absolutely the first hotel Mr & Mrs Smith should put on their list if they had any independence or gave a hoot about delivering a real guide for real travellers.

It is Sydney’s premier boutique weekender, or Dirty Weekend Away as Mr & Mrs Smith would have it. But Jonah’s will not make the list until they agree to forego a slice of any booking through the Mr & Mrs Smith website and pay up to join.

Travellers need to know that the site is compromised by a lack of independence and should rely on other more credible sources of information. There are a number of organisations that are honest about being a marketing service. AT’s picks are Small Luxury Hotels and Relaix & Chateaux.

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