I don’t often review hotels professionally. As regular readers of Hotel Insight will know, I tend to write only about hotels that I’ve stayed in whilst away on business or for holidays (rare as they may be) – but I was recently invited by the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge, London, to come and stay with them and see what the hotel had to offer. I was keen to experience the legendary Jumeirah service and see more of a hotel that’s made the headlines over the years. To date, I’d only ever had coffee at the hotel, so I was looking forward to seeing more.
City hotels need to have something different to say. It’s about storytelling with your guests. Cities have an abundance of one thing: hotels. That means you have to try to stand out from the crowd. Usually this is a fairly straightforward thing to do if you’re a luxury five-star property like the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, but in London there are so many five-star hotels, and with new properties such as the W London grabbing so many headlines, it’s keeping the traditional properties on their toes.
Not everyone can story tell, but a hotel like the Jumeirah Carlton Tower should have plenty to say, and it does. The management have made a real statement in communicating this to guests and this year, they have taken full advantage of the fact the hotel is celebrating their 50th birthday. To mark the landmark, many events have been arranged, including a high-profile party “Fabulous at Fifty” which was attended by famous faces including Sir Stirling Moss, John Cleese, Nell McAndrew and Terry Venables. The hotel have also published a very creative book ‘All That Life Can Afford’ with a whole host of images from their history. All this helps the brand to push home the messages of luxury and exclusivity.
History is rich at this hotel – when they opened back in 1961, this was the tallest hotel in London and a real beacon in style and sophistication and over the years has kept up to date with the latest technology and consumer demands, whilst retaining every inch of the true hospitality standards Jumeirah stands for. The prestigious awards have also flown in; voted in the top three best hotels in the UK by Conde Nast Traveller Gold List 2011, a bronze award for Large Hotel of the Year by Visit London… in fact, Google the hotel and you’ll see endless recommendations and journalistic pieces providing testimony and awards.
So, what of my stay? I’ve wanted to spend the night here for some time and tick off another five-star London hotel experience. I wasn’t disappointed and found it very hard to find fault. Everything about my stay was professional and exactly what I expected from such a quality brand like Jumeirah… and there were times I could have been tricked into thinking I could stroll out onto the white sands of the Jumeirah Beach, rather than into the torrential London rain.
On my way to the hotel, two expectations stood out in my mind – service and reputation – both synonymous with Jumeirah. When I do stay at a hotel specifically for Hotel Insight, a set criteria and critical mindset enters my head (beware hotels!). I’m not so much looking at fancy upgrades and the material, but I’m looking underneath what’s going on at the property. The true feel and genuine character of those there. Sometimes the best way to gauge this is when you check-in, when for the first time, no one knows who you are and your just another guest coming in from the rain. So I was pleased to be welcomed to the hotel like an old friend, sharing a brief joke with the doorman and greeted by a smile and warm towel at the reception desk. Good start.
I’d been upgraded to a very special room for my brief stay and found myself in the Belgravia Suite on the 15th floor. Like I say, I look underneath room upgrades when I’m trying to critique a hotel – but it was hard not to be moved by the opulence and luxury around me. Actually, I was quite pleased to be in this suite. Not because I’m a sucker for luxury (which I am), but because after all, this is one of the most luxurious hotels in the UK. The typical guest experience will be of opulence, attention to detail and remarkable service (and the average guest will be used to paying for this everywhere they go).
Back to the suite and one word describes it. Stunning. The first thing that actually hits you is not the size, layout of expensive furnishings, but the view. The 15th floor of the hotel gives access to one of the best views I’ve seen from a hotel in London, and being in a suite means it’s almost panoramic. In the main living area and bedroom you’re looking out across south London, the pretty hotel gardens directly below and the expensive boutique shops of Knightsbridge along side. People think I’m odd for saying this, but the industrial beauty of the shell of Battersea Power Station in the horizon seems iconic from this high up. Moving around through the bedroom to the bathroom gives another view of London, and I spent much time watching the world go by until the bright city lights burnt brightly into the darkness.
The best way to truly show you the finer details of this suite is to show you the photos, so do take a look. The rooms themselves making up the Belgravia Suite have everything you’d expect – flat screen televisions, BOSE sound systems, Nespresso machine and vast mini-bar, iPod docking stations, in-bath TV and Jacuzzi jets. But, look under the opulence, and you find high levels of professional service. It’s the little things and attention to detail that make Jumeirah such a successful brand, and this hotel impress so much. The fact that the staff you talk to already know your name. The genuine feeling of really trying to please, and the fact that nothings too much trouble, of course without being too over the top and formal.
The hotel is also full of great facilities – The Club Room situated with great views from the 9th floor, the Gilt Cocktail Lounge, The Chinoiserie where you can take afternoon tea and not forgetting the Peak Health Club and Spa complete with swimming pool, gymnasium (again with stunning views of London) and the Peak Golf simulator.
I’m sure you can tell by now that I thoroughly enjoyed my surroundings and stay. Every pre-conception that I had about Jumeirah as brand was justified. I’d thoroughly recommend you to stay at this hotel should you be in London. And I’m not just saying that because I was given a remarkable suite – I’m saying it because whether you’re in a suite or a superior room, the service you will receive is second to none. Jumeirah are a brand expanding. You think of the brand as being Dubai based and hotel surrounded by sand dunes and palm trees, and most are guilty of forgetting that they have an ever growing presence in major destinations, including New York, Shanghai and the Maldives. Jumeirah also recently announced the opening of a brand new property in Frankfurt and expanding into Kuwait, Azerbaijan and Mallorca.
My sincere thanks to all at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower for a fantastic stay. All the best for the future and another 50 years of success and storytelling.