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The One Where Claridge's Schooled London Hotels In Customer Service

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  Site Where: 49 Brook St, London, United Kingdom, W1K 4HR
August 18, 2014 at 10:34 AM | by | ()

Claridge's Juleps (£18 each)

There’s been a lot to depress us about the London hotel scene recently. Homophobes and boycotts. $127 drinks. Finding out that some of our favorite hotels have minimum spend policies. So when a luxury hotel in London steps up to the plate in terms of superb customer service, and reinforces our every hope about them, instead of dashing said hope into little pieces and then grinding it into the floor with a steel-capped heel, we should all rejoice. Put your hands together then, ladies and gents, for Claridge's.

Last Thursday, I went for drinks at Claridge’s with a friend. Drinks at Claridge’s has always seemed a little intimidating and out of budget for both of us, despite my having stayed there once, and both of us having watched the BBC documentary about Claridge’s more times than is good for us. It’s not your average after-work bar; it’s Claridge’s. Not only that, but there are two bars at Claridge’s: the normal one, and the tiny, sexy, marble-clad, gold-leafed, Lalique-glassed Fumoir that seats only 36, bans photos, and has a no reservations policy. That was the one we wanted.

I arrived first, and approached the Fumoir gingerly. Of course we have room, madam, said a man in a plum-colored velvet dinner jacket. Which table would you prefer? I picked the best table. He allowed me to do so. Score one to Claridge’s.

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]

Archived Comments:

I loved staying there

My old company had a great rate there.  Stayed there twice, once in 2012 and once in 2013.  They treated me like a CEO.  The service was warm and professional.  I never had to sign anything other than at checkout.  I received a welcome glass of rather good champagne both times.  The concierges are wonderful.  There was not a whiff of condescension in the entire place.  And the rooms were very nice, too, especially the bathrooms.

Loved both stays. Score LOTS for Claridge's.  Wish my current firm had a rate there.  Now I stay at a Hilton.  That is a serious buzzkill!

more Claridge's love

@hartss, going from Claridge's to Hilton - I cannot even imagine the buzzkill.

Let me share my other fave Claridge's story. I stayed there in 2011 and thought the Bamford toiletries were the best things I had ever smelled, so I took what was left of them with me when I checked out. I saved them for several months, waiting for a special occasion to finish them off, because I am a saddo.

Then a family member came to stay with me, and, unbeknownst to me, used all my Bamford soap up. I went irrationally nuts, and insisted they buy me a replacement. They couldn't find any online, so called Claridge's to ask if they sold them. The concierge said "Oh, no need to buy anything, just come over here and I'll give you some."

Family member trundled off in disgrace and returned in triumph, with FOUR MINI BAMFORD SOAPS from the concierge.

<3 Claridge's.


It happened during the Royal celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II (june 2012).
In honor of the Diamond Jubilee, I thought to book the Claridge's for the 4th time (and the stayings were superb even in deluxe rooms thanks to the kindness of all the staff!).

Thanks to the fate, the hotel was strangely overbooked and a person, who recognized me for the last stay, upgraded me to a posh-abfab-stylish... Linley Suite.

It was a memorable experience for a person who loves Art Déco.

After that no more upgrades but if I go to London at my own expense (and not, as Always, for work), Claridge's is my first option.

There's no swimming pool, no way to open windows but... Claridge's forever!!!

While I'm writing, I remember that at my first or second arrival, the room was not ready and at the bar (the normal with red leather, not the Fumoir mentioned in the article of Julia Buckley) I ordered little ice creams, a cocktail, a glass of water and I paid nothing because of the room... Again, Claridge's forever!!!