A recent article on this blog identified the Egerton House Hotel as the current number 1 guest-rated London hotel on TripAdvisor in July 2009.
So as promised, I recently met Jonathan Raggett, CEO of Red Carnation Hotel Collection, to try to understand how it got there.
This group ran a stunning 4 of TripAdvisor’s 5 best London hotels in mid-July 2009, including the Egerton House. It’s an enviable position to be in.
But the focus here is on the Egerton House: the top-rated 5 star London hotel at the time of writing this and the venue of our meeting.
Although by the end of July it had slipped a couple of positions (TripAdvisor ratings can fluctuate week by week) it was in fact only overtaken by another couple of its “sister” Red Carnation hotels.
So how did a relatively unsung and small (30 bedrooms) hotel such as the Egerton House manage to achieve such a lofty position?
Before revealing some answers, let’s peek at recent TripAdvisor guest comments which have helped the Egerton House to be so highly-rated:
The above comments clearly highlight that staff at the Egerton House possess bucketloads of character and charisma.
From what Mr Raggett told me this is not accidental.
They consciously recruit “characters” with personality and flair. So for example you have Antonio at the hotel’s bar who is famous for his martinis.Head Barman Antonio struts his stuff at the cosy Egerton House bar
Then there is Alex who not only checks you in but may also sing at your table! There’s also friendly Murat – one of the managers who cheerfully showed me around the hotel.
All the staff I ran into had a calm and relaxed attitude. This isn’t always the case in luxury hotels which often have an overbearing formality in the air.
The staff here seem to be driven by an expectation of success rather than a fear of failure. This frees them to be themselves and excel.
I also noticed that the hotel cultivates a distinctly cosy and intimate atmosphere – helped by its small size.
It’s a place that doesn’t stand on ceremony and is rather a hotel where guests can simply chill out, unwind and feel pampered.
Mr Raggett told me that although great effort is made to recruit the “characters” described above, continuous training is critical and implemented consistently across the Groups’s six luxury London hotels.
There is a focus on “TNTs” (“Tiny Noticeable Touches”). So for example, guests’ favourite drinks and newspapers are remembered, their favourite music arranged in advance in their rooms and so on.
Training is also tailored to the hotel’s specific needs and driven by continuous “mystery shopping” rather than generic standards.
This – as well as the emphasis on personalisation – echoes the approach taken by Claridge’s. And to the extent that you can usually stay at the Egerton House for a few quid less than Claridge’s, it offers good value.Rooms at the Egerton House have a comfy, traditional style
When I walked around to see some rooms, I found them nice but fairly standard fare for a luxury hotel. They were immaculately presented but I don’t think you’d choose this hotel on the strength of its rooms alone.
For me the hotel’s main asset is the intimacy and warmth conveyed by the surroundings and above all the staff. It’s a unique establishment run by a talented team with great attention to detail.
With only 30-odd rooms to supervise they know the hotel inside out and obviously feel comfortable and confident within its walls.
The manageable size also makes it easier to deliver unusually consistent performance. And I think that this consistency and the hotel’s special intimacy are what give it a deserved high position on TripAdvisor.
Location-wise, Knightsbridge is one of London’s upscale neighbourhoods and very close to Harrod’s, so it is perfect for shopping trips.
You’ll come back to the hotel bar with your pile of shopping bags to be greeted by one of Antonio’s G&Ts or martinis!
It’s also close to the Victoria and Albert Museum. You can get to pretty much anywhere in the West End within a few minutes on the tube.
Photo credits: Egerton House Hotel (Red Carnation Hotel Collection).