No other accommodation guides offer 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.

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.

The Charming Small Hotel Guides were started in 1986 by Andrew Duncan and Mel Petersen and over 30 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; since then Andrew Duncan has carried on the business, with his wife Fiona Duncan (The Sunday Telegraph’s hotel critic and travel writer) acting as chief editor of the Charming Small Hotel Guides. They are helped by a team of freelance inspectors.

Selected press reviews

‘A splendid series of lodging guides.’ – The Washington Post

‘We have always thought highly of these meticulously prepared handbooks – the quality shines through.’ – Living France

A few readers’ letters received each year

‘The book is an inspiration to travel. We weren’t having a holiday in Italy at all until I saw the book in a bookshop and was hooked (we’re in Australia and haven’t travelled overseas in years). It brought home to me what we were missing out on.’ – Fiona Brotherton, Sydney, Australia

‘My wife and I have used Charming Small Hotel Guides: Italy during countless wanderings in that country for almost 20 years – assiduously buying each new edition. We have never ever been disappointed and your special orientation on ‘small’ and ‘family run’ and the food is wonderful. We have recommended the guides to many Italophiles.’ – Dr Geoffey Marsh, Bolam, Co. Durham, UK

‘You produce such superb guides that we plan our holidays around them’ – John Heath, UK

‘Thank you for your excellent guides which always provide us with the sort of hotels we dream of finding but can’t without help.’ – Diana Goodbody, Bucks, UK

‘I found the guides to be excellent and very helpful. Excellent response from your recommendations, and I would recommend your book to other travellers.’ – Maria Wright, San Marcos, CA, USA

A recent comment about the website:

‘Your site allows direct contact with the accommodation owners and this is a godsend. Having spent two weeks trying to secure several hotels in Europe and having to negotiate numerous, less than adequate web pages that do not address such basic needs as quad accommodation, I found your approach to presenting information a simple and effective way of doing business.’ – Ian Venables, Western Australia

Buy Duncan Petersen Guides

If you’ve enjoyed browsing this website, why not buy one of our printed guides directly from our office? Besides the Charming Small Hotel Guides, we produce a range of beautiful books, compact enough to take with you when you travel, but easy to use and illustrated in colour throughout.

Buying copies directly from the publisher means you get a discount on the retail price, and we include postage and packaging free of charge.

How to order
Phone us on 020 7720 1692 and give your name, address and details of your order, including the title of the book(s) and how many copies you would like to order. You will need to authorise us to debit your VISA or Mastercard, giving the card number, expiry date and the three-digit security code on the back of your card.

We aim to dispatch within seven working days, and will include a receipted invoice in the package. This service is only available to UK customers.

Books available to order:

Charming Small Hotel Guides

– Charming Small Hotels Britain & Ireland, £14.99 (2018)
– Charming Small Hotels France, £14.99 (2015)
– Charming Small Hotels Italy, £16.99 (2013)
– Charming Small Hotels Germany, £14.99 (2008)
– Charming Small Hotels Spain, £14.99 (2012)
– Charming Small Hotels Austria, Switzerland & the Alps, £14.99 (2013)

On Foot City Guides

These books provide a selection of 12 walks that show you the best way to explore key cities on foot. Unique aerial-view maps show not only the street layout, but the look of your surroundings too. Following these walks is like being shown around the city by a knowledgable friend, with tips on where to go, the best places to eat and drink, and routes to follow to escape the crowds and see the best of the city.

– London Walks, £10.99
– New York Walks, £10.99
– Paris Walks, £9.99
– Prague Walks, £10.99
– Rome Walks, £10.99
– Venice Walks, £10.99

In a Box

These unique walking and cycling guides provide a range of exciting routes around Britain and further afield. Instead of a book, each guide is a box containing a series of walks printed on individual cards. Leave the book at home and just take the card you need with you. There’s even a transparent plastic sleeve to keep the card safe and dry. The cards contain detailed walking instructions, illustrative maps, colour photographs and images, and points of interest to look out for along the way.

– Great Pub, Great Walk in a Box, £14.99
– Walker’s Britain in a Box, £14.99
– Walker’s Yorkshire Dales and South Pennines in a Box, £14.99
– Walker’s London and the South East in a Box, £14.99
– Birdwatcher’s Walks in a Box, £14.99
– Walker’s Provence in a Box, £14.99
– Walker’s Tuscany in a Box, £14.99
– Weekend Walks in a Box, £14.99
– Off-Road Cyclist’s Britain in a Box, £14.99
– Britain on Backroads in a Box, £14.99
– Cyclist’s Britain in a Box, £15.99