Musing over an article in the FT Weekend (without doubt, the most interesting, relevant and civilized paper around), and a glass of German Riesling (also stimulating in its own way), a thought occurred to me: if one could slough off all the pseudo-scientific sales and marketing mumbo jumbo deposited on us at all-too-frequent intervals and think instead of what constitutes a perfect hotel, what would the answer look like?
Make no mistake: I'm not suggesting another poll - Heaven spare me! - rather a few minutes idle, reflective indulgence. What could be better! Of course there is no "correct answer" - another reason why marketing agencies would never pose the question: whatever emerges will vary according to the standard metrics - location, age, gender, culture and purpose, not to mention a few more personal measures. It will perhaps also be influenced, as is so often the case with personal taste questions, by one's first experiences. Whatever...... it seemed a good way to while away a few more moments, and enjoy another glass.
Would the key factor perhaps be architecture, a rambling country estate or a towering urban colossus? The same type of question could be asked of interior decor, lighting and furnishings. Through the lobby (an informed manager or two here helps to instill confidence in the overall running of the hotel), and on to the bar - for me, the determinant above all others of a perfect hotel: it must be quiet, but not intimate; it must have knowledgeable but not intrusive staff, and most of all it must attract an interesting but again not intrusive clientele: the great joy of the hotel bar lies precisely in the variety and relatively anonymity it offers. At last - earlier for some than others - we arrive at the bedroom the purpose of which most usually be sleeping, washing and working, with in some instances a few other peccadillos thrown in! An inveterate minimalist by nature, I favour sparse, subtle furnishings - and, above all, bathrooms that are private and not, as is the case with at least one European Marriott label, spatially and visually a part of the main room.
Sadly, for I am approaching the upper age deciles, my perfect hotel is either a threatened species or already extinct. For me, today's hotel is too often re-engineered mutation, where "guest experience" has become a marketing tool that agencies use to lure hotel chains that apparently seem to have lost sight (or sound) of the business they are in.
As the article to which I referred earlier observed, being harassed by e-mail with trite, meaningless, surveys minutes after leaving is surely one of the more annoying characteristics of the modern hotel industry. "Truly good managers know if there is a problem and seasoned guests make themselves heard - you don't need e-mail reminders to find out 'how you're doing'."
Enough.....................relief is at hand: Despite all the irritable, testy ramblings above, there is for me in today's Marriott world, one hotel that approximates "perfection". It is neither the most expensive, nor the most garishly spectacular, but it simply operates, listens, watches and learns with
an unobtrusive professionalism that guarantees (as far as is possible) continuity of service, enjoyment and an imaginative response to an ever-changing world. It is in Berlin, Germany.
Goodbye and good luck
See, this is exactly why IAHFLYR, bejacob, myself, and a few others, "keep the beach ball up in the air" when it comes to posts and threads, it leads to great stuff like this by arkwright and other occasional, yet substantive contributors. By observing how tomd68, pluto77, kharada46, vaboywnder and many, many other blogs written with great effort (and I can brag about the blogs, because I haven't written any) don't capture the visibility worthy of their content, we eventually roused ark out of his quiet, yet not necessarily intimate, study; moving him to action.... one which benefits us all (I read FT this morning, but focused on Vikram Pandit, your cultural insights keep me from becoming Gordon Gekko ).
arkwright, stirred to action by the ineptness of blog management
Great question, Arkwright!
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about the best hotel experience I have ever had (Mykonos, GR two years ago) -- for those interested here is my review of the Myconian Imperial Hotel and Thalasso Center on Elia Beach. Since the whole experience was so transcendent and not even close to what I experienced anywhere else, I won't try to describe it again.
While recent reviews suggest it has dramatically increased in price, I paid a pittance for this amazing hotel with its three outdoor and two indoor pools.
But what I look for as THE most desirable things that will make me think the hotel is the best in the world
- water (not to drink, but in the form of pools or beaches). Swimming and walking are the only two exercises I can still do.
- great and friendly, over the top service
- a really comfortable bed
- a bathtub
- a balcony
- plenty of easy to use sockets
- a good choice of amenities
- free breakfast
- free wifi
- a fabulous on site restaurant
- a desirable location
The next closest 'best' would be the Athens Ledra, though its location is not the best.
What a tough question...The Perfect Hotel? What you've described sounds just wonderful. I could surely vote (just kidding) for that. For me, it's much easier to find the less than perfect hotels. I can spot them upon arrival. Luckily, I haven't been in too many of those, but a bad hotel sticks out and stays in the memory.
I'll list a few mature hotels that really had me smiling from arrival to checkout:
Seaview Marriott.. Galloway, NJ. Sadly, no longer a Marriott but with a rich history of golf legends and a lobby that sang out turn of the century.
The Homestead..Hot Springs, Va. Every activity known to man in a mountain setting. What a place. Never a Marriott, as far as I know. It's now in the Omni family.
The Mayflower Renaissance, Washington, DC. The fact that the staff is both Worldly and in tune with professional customer service, adds to the historic feel. It's really big, from the lobby, to the hallways, to the rooms (upgraded to a beautiful suite).
Thank you, PP. And your point about "bad hotels" is well taken. As with the concepts of "angels" and "infinity", the ideal of "perfection" is exactly that - an ideal: if ever realised, it would self-destruct immediately. As you suggest, however, it does have a relevance in the sense in which mathematicians and physicists talk of "tending towards infinity".
And thanks too for your list of " mature" establishments. I like that term. I may be in DC next year, in which case it may be very useful.
Had many nights while in ACY at the lovely Seaview before Dolce took it over, then we went to the Villa's in the winter and Somers Point RI spring/summer. Last stay at the Villas I believe the hotel was sold to another entity as it was just named Seaview!
I believe the management company is Dolce. The ownership changed hands from someone to Stockton University. The college transitioned a significant chunk of rooms into dorms, I believe.