Are all five-star hotels equally good? Launched in January 2017, a new website called Luxury Bared hopes to better inform travellers with expert reviews of top-end hotels from travel industry professionals. It also enables them book directly to get a range of free perks. Founder and CEO, Grant Holmes, speaks to Globetrender about his vision…

What is Luxury Bared?

We believe that the perfect holiday begins with the first spark of inspiration and doesn’t end until long after you return home. It’s about discovery, experiences and unrivalled enjoyment – it’s an investment in memories.

That’s why we created Luxury Bared – to pair technology when you want it with expert advice from real humans when you need it.

To gain full access to the site and its reviews and perks, travellers must become a member, which is free, unless you want to pay £24.99 for additional bespoke travel planning services, and a dedicated member services executive and travel advisor.

Why is it innovative?

1. We have unique content (including specialist reviews on every hotel featured) that is focused only on the top-end of the luxury leisure market. Luxury Bared only features the very best hotels in any given destination.

2. Technology. Behind the scenes we connect with online hotel central reservations platform SynXis (Luxury Bared is one of the few companies globally that has it’s own dedicated Channel Connect to SynXis) and global distribution system Travelport through its Universal API, meaning that Luxury Bared can guarantee the best available prices and, most importantly, the last available room during peak periods.

3. Free perks. With every hotel booking clients receive a complimentary breakfast for two people, a room upgrade (subject to availability), early check-in/late check-out, a dining or spa credit and free wifi. This equates to about $380 at every hotel.

4. Flexibility. Clients simply provide a credit card guarantee at the time of booking and payment is made on check-out. The vast majority of Luxury Bared’s hotels allow 24-48 hours cancellation at no cost, with the exception of peak holiday periods. It’s the hotel’s booking and payment policy rather than a third party’s booking and payment policy. You don’t pay for your hotel months ahead.

Who is it targeted at?

Luxury leisure travellers that stay at top-tier hotels such as Mandarin Oriental, Rosewood and Aman, as well as and cruise lovers that travel within the Luxury, Ultra-Luxury and Experiential Cruise categories.

How many members do you have?

We have more than 141,000 members globally.

Who writes the reviews?

We have a team of in-house and external reviewers. You can get the low-down on all our expert reviewers by clicking here.

How many hotels do you have reviews of?

So far we have reviews of 214 hotels  with another 37 being added over the next four to six weeks. By the end of this year, we will have more than 350. By the end of April we will have reviewed ten hotels in London.

With so many review sites how do you hope to stand out from the crowd?

We’re not just a review site – we are an online booking site with unique content, reviews by industry experts and a raft of perks with a focus solely on the luxury travel consumer.

Are reviews of luxury hotels as useful as for budget hotels? (How bad can a five-star hotel really be?)

How bad can a five-star hotel be? Good question. The problem starts with “five star”, which is a greatly overused and misunderstood term. A Hilton can be marketed as five-star just as the Ritz Paris is but there is a massive difference.

The question with luxury hotels is not whether it is good or bad (you’re right, it’s mostly never bad although there are a few nightmares out there) but rather, does a hotel deliver on its marketing promise for the amount of money you are going to pay?

That’s what we review. Did they deliver the luxury experience they promised to in their marketing. And with so many luxury brands ultimately “delivering the goods”, what makes one luxury hotel different from another and what’s the right one for any given traveller? Given the significant room rates charged by luxury hotels, these are the issues Luxury Bared addresses.

What is the future of review sites given there are so many fake reviews out there?

In my opinion, a review site (with no other value offering to the consumer such as on-line booking) that is not specialised in a particular area or lacks credible and verifiable information, will likely be short-lived. The days of generalisation, unverifiable content and a “one size fits all approach” are coming to an end.