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10 Spotlights From the Prestigious Small Luxury Hotels Collection

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One of my favorite ways to find the perfect hotel—the kind that defines your trip, and isn’t just for sleeping—is to browse through the myriad options at Small Luxury Hotels (SLH). These are all unique, “independently minded” properties, but what every carefully curated SLH has in common is a focus on lavishness and personal attention. If that sounds good to you, there’s a decent chance your next vacation destination has one or more SLH-member properties worth checking out. So far there are over 500 sprinkled across 90-plus countries.

Take my recent trip to northeast Brazil. My partner and I wanted to spend a week on the coast of Bahia—first, in a remote pousada for a few days, followed by a couple nights in the bustling oceanside city of Itacaré. Doubtful that this random corner of the world would have an SLH property, I checked anyway and was thrilled to be wrong. We quickly booked a visit to Barracuda Hotel & Villas, a 17-suite hotel tucked above the treetops with sweeping views of the ocean.

Exterior pool deck at Barracuda Hotel & Villas property in Bahia, Brazil.
Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels

By day’s end, I was on a first name basis with the front desk, bartender, waitstaff, and even the hotel’s president. While the property’s owners are Swedish, over 90 percent of the staff is native to Itacaré. It’s locally designed and honors the area from which it resides. Barracuda is also part of SLH’s Considerate Collection, a portfolio of hotels that pioneers sustainability. I must have ordered two dozen sparkling waters throughout my stay—each one served in a Soda Stream vessel with water recycled and purified right on-site—no excess waste or cost. On the dining side, the hotel’s prices also turned out to be comparable to finer restaurants in town.

It was a flawless trip, housed in my ideal version of a design-focused property offering an authentic experience—as opposed to some charmless luxury hotel you can find anywhere. Other highlights included a bossa-backdropped rooftop bar; onsite yoga and CrossFit courses held each morning in the outdoor gym; and a menu of curated experiences from surfing and fishing to cocoa plantation visits, mangrove river cruises, and grilling fish over the river at sunset. Now that it owns multiple core memories of mine, I vow to return.

Guide standing on a dugout in mangroves of coastal Brazil.
Courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels

If you crave excess space, peruse SLH’s Private Collection. These standalone upgrades redefine large living areas. Barracuda is a member of this one, too, with its nine villas, each with four-to-eight rooms. You can rent a spot for the entire family or a special occasion. The cost of those villas per room competes with an individual hotel suite.

A free membership into SLH’s Invited Club gets you 10 percent off at those properties, plus early check-ins, late checkouts, and flexible bookings—and it’s easy to rack up benefits. You get free upgrades and breakfasts after just four nights spent at SLH properties and a $300 voucher after 13 nights. Keep an eye on the exclusive member offers, too. World of Hyatt members can also capitalize with participating SLH properties.

Here are nine more Small Luxury Hotels spotlights worthy of a visit. Each is an indie-spirited destination in its own right—not to mention the fantastic cities, islands, and landscapes they all call home.

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