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When the cynics win – the world loses. I’ve been a great fan of the Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) brand for years, believing that unique and independent hotels often unlock the most memorable travel experiences. For that reason, I was extremely excited to see the program offer lucrative perks for referring friends. The perk? A free night for yourself when a friend completes a stay with an SLH hotel. But the SLH group hasn’t honored the promotion the way they should…

a white building with blue water and a blue sky
Canavas – Greece.


Refer a friend, they stay in a SLH hotel and when they do – you get a free night. It didn’t matter how much their SLH stay cost – and neither did the one you’d like. This was an awesome offer where everyone involved wins. Just this week the hotel emailed to retroactively change the terms to state that a minimum of $200 per night must be spent to receive a free night. But that’s not even the problem.

The Problem

To redeem a free night, SLH members need to email the SLH program to request a free night. The terms do state that the offer is subject to availability – but we believe SLH is taking advantage of this offer term to dissuade customers. We’ve received numerous complaints and done additional digging and we believe this: SLH are denying free nights – even though plenty of availability exists.

a pool with a thatched roof and a building with trees in the backgroundHow

Members email SLH to request their free night at any property in the SLH portfolio. Countless readers have reached out after confirming that multiple basic rooms are available at the hotel on the dates of their request, only to be denied. We don’t know if the denials are based on the properties themselves saying no, or SLH not wanting to confirm availability – but this is more trouble than it should be for members with pure intentions.

Positive Impressions

Running a hotel brand is about running good hotels. My stays at SLH hotels have left nothing but positive impressions, so it’s a shame their updated loyalty program is leaving a sour taste with many members, before they are afforded a proper chance to explore all the brand has to offer. We hope to hear from SLH and really hope they’ll sort this mess out.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Dear Gilbert,

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. As you may be aware, Small Luxury Hotels of the World relaunched its loyalty program – INVITED – in September, 2017. Feedback on the evolved program has been positive so far from many of our members. With regards to the ‘refer a friend’ initiative, this is a new feature within INVITED and we are only aware of two members who were unable to redeem this benefit due to a lack of availability at their first choice hotel, however we have liaised with the members to provide an alternative hotel choice. Unfortunately, since we don’t own or manage any of our 500+ hotels, we cannot always guarantee availability hence why we make it very clear in our terms and conditions the following:

    4.5. Hotel availability for the redemption of a Complimentary Night voucher may differ from general online availability. A Member’s voucher is subject to the availability of Complimentary Nights at the respective SLH participating hotel.

    For ease, I have pasted below our terms and conditions for the refer a friend benefit within INVITED and if there are any members out there who are experiencing any issues we do encourage them to contact us immediately at so that we can help them with their booking.

    INVITED programme terms and conditions:

    INVITED refer a friend terms and conditions:

    1. Pegi,

      I appreciate you taking the time to address this directly. We are obviously big fans of your hotels and have great hopes for the new SLH program. I think part of the problem you’re describing is that each hotel in your membership is so unique. An alternative just wouldn’t quite be the same, or acceptable for many of your discerning guests.

      I hope things smooth out and that the program moves forward with fluidity, grace and value. I’ll definitely be back at an SLH property.

  2. yes! they are not properly honouring! They have removed the refer a friend programme in their website.
    And recently they are terminating those accounts that has successfully achieve the requirement, will all sort of ridiculous reasons.
    Beside, they won’t reply your email if you ask about the benefit of the tiers, says birthday gift. Not even a “NO”.

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