They gave me a menu, and asked whether I wanted to order anything, or if I wanted to wait for my friend. When I picked the second option, they left me alone, and didn’t hassle me once, despite my friend being 40 minutes late. Score two to Claridge’s.
The menu had no minimum spend, and clearly listed whether each drink was served long or short, and how many items were on each plate of food, saving guests the embarrassment of calculating how long they can while away over each drink, or whether one serving of blinis will be adequate for two people. Score three for Claridge’s.
Cucumber Collins (L), Mayan Daisy (R), (both £16)
Once my friend arrived, we eked out two cocktails each over three hours. Nobody pressured us to order more. They even refilled the snacks (green olives in brine and honey-covered nuts). Score four for Claridge’s.
But Claridge’s saved the best till last. When the time came to pay the bill (£76 for four cocktails, including an automatic 12.5% tip - incidentally the same total as the Wellesley's infamous three small bottles of water), my card didn’t swipe. Mr Plum Velvet Jacket informed us it wasn't me, it was him – there was a problem with the machine. After 15 minutes trying all the machines in the building, it was clear there was a problem with all of them. The phonelines were down.
A bill of £76 and £7 spare change in our pockets. What to do? We joked about washing up some dishes. I offered to leave a card as guarantee and come back tomorrow. And then the manager came over and said, “Ladies, looks like your evening tonight was on us.”
Yes, Claridge’s gave us £76 - $127 - of cocktails, no questions asked. And in doing so, ensured that a) we’ll be back, b) we’ll tell everyone about it, and c) we’ll be heartened that at least one luxury hotel in London gives a monkey's about its customer experience. Can you imagine that happening at the Wellesley? They’d probably have had the security team escort us to the nearest ATM.
Claridge’s, we salute you.
PS: The drinks were wonderful.
PPS: Sorry we took photos.
[Photos: Julia Buckley for HotelChatter]