That’s before we mention the fierce cut-throat competition between the refurbished Langham, celeb-magnets like Claridge’s and the Dorchester (which is better by the way?) as well as modern classics like One Aldwych and designer gem the Halkin or spa havens like the Mandarin Oriental.
So if you want an expensive hotel in London and are willing to pay top dollar, you are certainly not short of options!
Fully aware of this, the visionary Managing Director at the Lanesborough, Mr Gelardi, has developed a competitive strategy based on innovation.
He consciously gives “freebies” to guests including Sony Vaios and free WiFi, driven by personal annoyance with the “nickel and diming” typical of so many luxury hotels. Being a contrarian, he has even set up a “smoking room” which has turned into one of London’s most popular hotel bars.
But one of the hotel’s biggest draws is the unlimited “free” butler service for all the hotel’s guests. Other hotels have butlers too, but what matters at the Lanesborough is that they are full-time and available to all – not just restricted to guests in ultra-expensive suites as at some other hotels.
Mr Gelardi once described his butlers as “the cream on top of the cake” in an already generously-staffed hotel (the staff-guest ratio is higher at the Lanesborough than any other London hotel I know).
Their job is literally to provide a “wow factor” for guests and to go above and beyond the call of duty in serving them.
As Mr Gelardi told me, their job is “to literally look for things to do”, something which less far-sighted hoteliers would consider inefficient.
This can range from unpacking your suitcase to more elaborate demands (quirky culinary requests for example are very common), or even helping a guest to rehearse an important speech!
My initial preconception was that a butler would be distant and formal.
But this myth was dispelled when I met and interviewed Mr Gelardi’s Head Butler, Mr Sean Davoren, a while back. I found him warm and accessible – indeed these are exactly the qualities the Lanesborough aims to recruit.
He was full of jovial anecdotes – told with utter discretion – and clearly has a passion for the job. As you can imagine, butlers work long hours.
Since the Lanesborough charges similar room rates to rivals like Claridge’s and the Dorchester, the fact you get this “value added” free – even with the hotel’s smallest room – makes the high price much more palatable.
After all, if you’re going to go for the full-on “5 star” experience then you might as well go the whole distance!
Photo credits: The Lanesborough Hotel.