(This is the second review I referenced in this post : British Airways’ New First Class … a whole new experience)
If you’ve ever read Flying With Fish for any length of time you’ll know I’m not a hotel guy. I sleep on planes, random benches, in airports, or just don’t sleep at all. Last week on a trip to London I was offered a complimentary night at a hotel in London and my first instinct was … “Hey, I haven’t sleep at Heathrow T5 yet, I should probably sleep in the terminal…I’ve already slept countless nights at T3.”
While I am an ‘airport sleeper’ I have experienced my fair share of outstanding hotels, including the George V in Paris, Mandarin Oriental in DC and Hong Kong, Movenpick in Bahrain (which was my all-time favorite until last week), The Hotel Marlow in Cambridge Massachusetts, Savoy Hotel in London and a few others … and while I am not really who a five star hotel caters to, I know what excellent service is…so on with my review of Brown’s Hotel in London.
Rather than start with the obvious points of what an excellent hotel offers its business and leisure travelers, I am going to start with an aspect of the hotel that really leapt out at me…how Brown’s Hotel caters to children who are guests at the hotel.
Most hotels, be they tourist class hotels or top notch five star hotels, tend to have a similar approach to catering to children…they don’t. The hotels may offer that kids stay free or that they get a free breakfast, but kids are not the hotel’s focus. While exploring what Brown’s Hotel had to offer its guests it became quite apparent that they are the first ‘upper class’ hotels I have encountered that not only sincerey tolerates kids, but also really caters to kids.
When children check into the Brown’s Hotel with their parents, everything for them is well…well it is for them! Sheets are blue or pink, babies get play mats on the ground with appropriate toys, showers get bath toys and rubber duckies … the kids even get kids sized slippers and bath robes. I have seen other hotels offer kids bath robes, but certainly not kids sized slippers or a hotel install a Wii in the room or older kids, toys trains and other toys for younger kids, teddy bears tucked into the pillow and even kid sized mirrors on the dresser.
On one hand, Brown’s Hotel catering to kids is brilliant in that it keeps kids entertained, which translates into parents being happy guests. On the other hand … Brown’s Hotel catering to kids builds young loyal guests. The small details found in the rooms help build an early brand reputation and future guests.
Now onto why I found Brown’s Hotel to be my new favorite hotel…I’ll start with the simple and most important reason…the service was flawless.
My standard might be lower than some of Brown’s Hotel guests, as while I have stayed at quite a few five star hotels, the hotel I have frequented more times than any other is the Vagabond Hotel at San Francisco International Airport…but I know what service is. The service and attention to detail at Brown’s Hotel was almost like being in the presence of mind readers. By the time you’ve realized you’re asking for something it is being handled for you.
An example of service I had not encountered anywhere was upon entering my room I realized I did not have access to wireless internet. The hotel is in the process of installing wireless internet, but my room had a wired connection and the desk was in the living room around 40 feet from the bed (it was a double room suite). I remarked that I’d like to work from the bedroom and within a matter of minutes the internet connection was moved from the wall outlet in the living room area to a wall outlet in the bedroom, and I was provided with a 30+ foot ethernet cable to allow me to roam anywhere I pleased from the newly installed outlet in the bedroom.
Most hotels, including two five star hotels that come to mind, have told me they could not help me in moving the internet access to a more suitable location.
In the room there was a beautiful fruit plate and some wine, most guests would appreciate this, however I am allergic to many fruits and do not drink alcohol. When I was asked how my room was I made a comment that the wine and fruit look lovely, but they were not something I ate or drank … and then I left for work. When I returned to the room the fruit and wine were replaced with cookies and a bottle of Coke.
It’s the details that really make any hotel stand out from one another. A bed is a bed, it may be a comfortable bed, but still … a bed is a bed.
As for the room, I found nearly everything far beyond what I expect from a hotel room, but really I found the quality of sheets, comforters and pillows to be excellent. I cannot think of a single hotel I have ever stayed at where I actually even noticed the quality of the bedding, but as I sat down and swung my legs onto the bed I immediately thought “this is what Oprah’s sheets must feel like on her bed!”
For me, the quality of the bedding, as trivial as it may seem, comes back to ‘the details.’ Brown’s Hotel clearly is looking for an elevated experience and they create it.
In the bedroom area of my room, suite, near the bed is where I found myself primarily working. While many prefer a desk, and the desk was quite nice, I tend to work in a more relaxed manner, and the two-person easy chair with ottoman is where I spent more than six hours of my less than 24hrs at Brown’s Hotel working. Quite honestly, when it was time to go to sleep around 1:00am (and I had a 6:30am wake up call) I seriously considered the comfort of the sheets on the bed and the comfort of the chair I had been working in.
On a trivial note, not related to details, but more to size, the closet in my room was roughly the size of my office. Of course the closet in my room was nicer than my office, had more drawer space than my office and came with a fridge (which my office does not), I probably would have been happy to just stay in that closet!
…back to the details, one of the more interesting things about Brown’s Hotel was being called by name every time I used the phone and encountered people in the hotel. If I was asked my name by anyone, they remembered it and greeted me by name every time I passed them. I have no idea how a hotel can acquire a staff that can memorize an endless stream of guest names, especially those staying one night, but it is something that stuck in my mind as putting Brown’s Hotel above all others I have stayed at. It is the sense that those hotel truly values its guests and that it is building a relationship with its guests.
Should I have the opportunity to renew my relationship with Rocco Forte Brown’s Hotel on the future trips to London I will most certainly take the opportunity to do so.
Below are 8 photographs of Brown’s Hotel I shot during my stay.