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Which London hotels best handle complaints?

by Rajul on May 13, 2009


Even the best hotels mess up occasionally!

What separates the elite hotels, the ones you come back to time and time again, is how well they respond after things go wrong.

We conducted some in-depth research of London hotels and hotel brands to see which ones have the best process for complaints.

In most of the examples below, we personally met senior management at the hotel or its parent company.  Here is a capsule summary of the findings:

  • Malmaison (4 star brand with hotel in Charterhouse Square): the General Manager is empowered to handle complaints, with discretion to offer compensation and a personal apology.
  • The Lanesborough (5 star luxury hotel overlooking Hyde Park): complaints always handled within 24 hours under MD’s personal supervision.  There’s a system for staff to give anonymous tips to each other via an internal hotline to prevent mistakes and enhance service.
  • Hilton (based on interview with CEO – flagship London hotel on Park Lane): there is a central system but main emphasis is at the hotel level.  Extensive tracking system to ensure global consistency.  Do read our article on the best Hiltons in London based on TripAdvisor reviews.
  • Maybourne Hotel Group (Claridge’s and other deluxe hotels in London): direct follow-up by the General Manager and ongoing mystery shopping programme to prevent issues arising in the first place.
  • InterContinental Hotels (based on head office meeting): sophisticated system for tracking guest feedback as fast as possible.  Personal response to complaints is based on accepting responsibility.
  • Thistle Hotels (various mid-range hotels in London): attempt to handle the complaint verbally if possible rather than with an impersonal letter.
  • Rocco Forte Collection (luxury hotels including Brown’s in London, based on a personal interview with Sir Rocco Forte).  A direct quote: “If anything is not to your liking at one of my hotels, you can get in touch with me directly”.  So the CEO offers his very own personal guarantee.
  • Le Meridien (based on CEO interview before takeover by Starwood): staff empowered to handle complaints and do whatever it takes to fix.
  • Myhotels: guest comments and complaints examined at board meetings. Customers often re-contacted when specific complaint addressed.  There is a Myhotel in both Bloomsbury and Chelsea.
  • Millennium & Copthorne (flagship London hotel in Kensington): General Manager responsible for resolving complaints and aims to give a fast response, usually by phone.  Commitment to always “put things right”.
  • The Grove (country house hotel just on the edge of north London): philosophy based on key principle of “decide in favour of the guest”.
  • One Aldwych (iconic modern 5 star hotel near Covent Garden, based on interview with founder Gordon Campbell Gray): feels personally “horrified” by complaints.  Meticulous attention given to resolving any issue and followed up by phone call from the GM.

The above feedback obviously has to be taken with a pinch of salt since hotel executives will always claim to deal diligently with complaints.

Also, the above represent the “elite” London hotels with the highest room rates.  There are bound to be more horror stories lower down the scale.

Nevertheless, I hope it gives you some insight into the commitment that the vast majority of top London hoteliers have to address your complaint.

Having met many of them, I believe that leading hoteliers in London have a genuine commitment to put things right.  You could argue that in a hotel market as competitive and pricey as London’s, they simply have no choice.

Another factor is that London consistently attracts some of the best hotelier talent in the world (and accordingly pays some of the highest salaries).

So if you have a genuine complaint about your stay in a London hotel, you should never be shy in coming forward.

You’ll be doing yourself and the hotel a big favour by doing so.

We’ll no doubt be returning to this theme later on.  In the meantime, please feel free to share your London hotel complaint experiences with us.

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