less number vs few

1) There were a less number of people present at the party.
2) There were less number of people present at the party.
3) There were few people present at the party.

Can someone please tell me which of the above sentences sound(s) natural?

These are OK:

  1. There were a small(er) number of people present at the party.
  2. There were few people present at the party.

NB: They are not synonymous.

Thanks Mister Micawber!

Is less number of an incorrect expression?

Ye, it is incorrect.