In recent articles we’ve looked closely at the Milestone – a luxury hotel near Kensington – to see how it has become the current number 1 London hotel (at the time of writing) on TripAdvisor. Factors behind its rise include:
2. Its “Tiny Noticeable Touches” – the way staff are empowered to engage with guests and “go the extra mile”.
So we’ve already put much of the jigsaw together.The Milestone has a slightly dotty, refined elegance and a homely, country mansion feel to it
In my recent meeting with the Milestone’s General Manager, he also shared other reasons why the hotel gets such good reviews, listed below:
- Tranquil location. The Milestone is opposite Kensington Gardens, one of London’s most underrated and nicest green spaces. Many rooms have park views and make it hard to imagine that you’re still in central London, with easy access to all the city’s sights and attractions.
- Manageable size and high staff/guest ratio. The Milestone only has 57 rooms and 6 apartments but almost 100 staff. This allows for an engaging, attentive service style and no sense of feeling rushed. The staff are able to remember and greet guests personally.
- Data collection. Although the smooth service at the Milestone looks effortless, the reality is that a lot of perspiration goes behind making it work. For example, they collect pre-stay guest preferences e.g. your favourite drink, newspaper, etc. Staff then track what guests actually do during their stay (which can be different to what was stated) and constantly update this data. This helps deliver those amazing “TNTs”.
- Staff retention and team spirit. There is great stability in the hotel’s staff, with key team members working there for decades. As was explored in our feature on staff retention at various London hotels, this helps to create consistency and trust. There is also a “trading places” scheme to build team spirit – even the Group’s CEO (whom I met at its sister Egerton House hotel) once found himself doing the breakfast shift!
- Unique, “non-standard” product. When I recently visited the Milestone, it was the antithesis of a chain hotel. It looks like a luxurious mansion and each public area feels distinct. All rooms are also individually furnished with eclectic fixtures and fittings and items that don’t always “match”. It’s slightly eccentric but that is part of its homely appeal.
- “Celebrations”. The Milestone is not particularly “corporate”, though it does get some business guests. It has instead developed a reputation for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, honeymoons, etc. This guest profile obviously wants to be delighted and “wowed”: the perfect platform for staff to perform their magical TNTs. There’s a great match between the guest profile and the staff profile.
There are of course other hotels striving to offer extremely personal service which also have high staff/guest ratios – the Lanesborough (run by arguably London’s best hotelier) and Claridge’s also spring to mind.
However, the Milestone has an advantage both by virtue of its small size and the fact that expectations are lower since you’ll usually pay a bit less than you would in the above ultra-deluxe hotels (though we’d always suggest you do a price comparison to check).
The biggest challenge for the Milestone Hotel from now on will be to meet the higher expectations it has created, but that’s a nice problem to have!
Photo credits: Red Carnation Hotel Collection.