No other accommodation guide series offers this combination of essential qualities:

A unique focus on places with charm and character. Highly selective - every hotel worth a journey

Fussy about size: we favour places that can offer a genuinely personal welcome

A colour photograph for every entry, and a good description

But above all, we're 'independent': no one pays to be included. Most other accommodation guides accept payments per page. They are advertisements masquerading as guides.

The Charming Small Hotel Guides stand out for their excellent writing. Compare just one of our entries with its counterpart in a pay-guide - for example Johanssens, or Special Places to Stay - and you'll immediately notice the difference. Instead of the pay-guides' gush of approval, the Charming Small Hotel Guides offer a calm, reasoned evaluation. We go to great pains to try to get under the skin of each hotel; to draw a word-sketch of what the hotel really is.

We don't have to put the best possible gloss on our hotels; we can make negative points as well as the positive ones. The pay guides leave out many, many good places because they don't choose to pay the fee.

The Charming Small Hotel Guides were started in 1986 by Andrew Duncan and Mel Petersen and nearly 25 years later remain one of the most important publishing activities of London co-edition publisher Duncan Petersen. In 2001 Mel Petersen died tragically young of a brain tumour aged 54 (see below for a short tribute); since then Andrew Duncan has carried on the business, with his wife Fiona Duncan (who writes the Hotel Guru column in The Sunday Telegraph) acting as chief editor of the Charming Small Hotel Guides. His sons Alexander and Fergus have played a major part in developing this rebuilt website. Our chief inspectors are Fiona Duncan and Leonie Glass backed up by a small team including Nicola Swallow, Tamara Grosvenor, Robin Gauldie and Jan Dodd.

Titles available, Britain & Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, Switzerland & the Alps

Mel Petersen- Was the dream colleague: in British illustrated book publishing, he had the reputation of being the art director to work with if you were lucky enough. He was at his best with complex, picture-text integrated layouts, and almost unique among designers in paying proper attention to the words, hardly ever savaging the text in order to make the graphics work. The integrity of the Charming Small Hotel Guides - the nicely judged balance between picture and text, the elegant simplicity of the pages - were typical of his work, and of the man.