Country houses most popular for luxury breaks, finds research

luxury break are most likely to book a country house hotel in the UK over any other type of hotel, according to research by Small Luxury Hotels.

Country house properties have increased their share of the brand’s collection to make up 31% of SLH’s portfolio compared to 26% in 2012.

The UK is the number one destination, followed by Italy, France, Greece, the US and Spain.

Additions such as Dormy House Hotel, due to open in January, the Bath Priory and Andy Murray’s Cromlix and Chez Roux, due to open in April, enhance the strong UK trend for luxury into 2014, the group says.

Despite this, the group grew the strongest in Italy and China last year with seven new properties spanning from Venice to Perugia and five new Chinese properties.

Last year topped 2012 as its best ever trading year for SLH, with an 8% rise in room nights to 369,152 and a 12% increase in revenues to $134 million across the 520 hotels represented.

A Boxing Day flash sale generated a 37% increase in bookings and a 51% hike in revenue for the week after Christmas compared to the same period in 2012.

Visits to the website also increased by 229% that week, with reservations up by 128% on iPads and 300% by mobile.

The website attracted 5% more users from 3.8 million to 4 million in 2013, while revenue through SLH’s online booking engines went up by 54 percentage points and now makes up 37% of revenue.

SLH plans to re-launch its website this year to make it easier and faster to use and book.

Revenue through travel agents also performed strongly, while revenue through GDS booking channels rose by 9% to make up 52% of revenue.

SLH increased the number of members to its loyalty club by 134,977 to 324,977. They spent 21% or $29 million more than in 2012.

With 29 new properties in Europe, the Middle East and Africa region, 17 in the Asia Pacific region and 9 in the Americas, SLH grew the portfolio by 55.

Chief executive Paul Kerr said: “This has been another extraordinary growth year for SLH.

“Certainly, there has been an increase in consumer confidence globally, but Small Luxury Hotels of the World offers a great product that is easily booked whether that is through a travel agent, online – via computer, tablet or mobile – or over the phone.

“However consumers choose to buy, we’re there, and we are looking forward to 2014, when we revamp our website to make it faster and perf