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.

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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