My wife and I were in London recently where she had attended a Partner's conference at the Chancery Court Hotel, which until July 2011 had been a Renaissance Property.
After the Conference we stayed at the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel from 23 - 25 July 2011. I picked this property largely because of the reviews in the national and international press of the major renovation that had been carried out to a historic building in London.
You can read about it at the Hotel site, see link, but in a word the building is stunning, very Harry Potterish (part of the Harry Potters movies were shot here as well as several other movies) and a magnificent restoration of a major historical building.
The hotel is only a few months old and thus staff and systems have yet, in some areas, to totally bed down. I have a couple of observations which spoiled what would have been an otherwise good stay.
We stayed initially in room 251 in the Barlow Wing, which is a newly built wing designed to be in keeping with the historical hotel. We had access to the Chambers Club. We were escorted to the lift to our room, but not the room itself. This was unfortunate as I could not find out how to switch on the room lights and the wireless telephone would not work without power. I had to walk back to check in for assistance, which was provided. After our suitcases were delivered to the room, we realised that one was missing. This was resolved by a telephone call and when the porter brought the missing case, he showed us the facilites of the room and discovered that the minibar was locked. Minor matters, which were resolved, but were not what I was expecting for a three hundred pounds a night room.
At about 8am on Sunday 24 July my wife and I were awoken by tremendous banging and crashing sounds coming from the ceiling. I called the operator and complained, suggesting that perhaps children were jumping off of the bed upstairs. They said they would have security investigate. Security came to my room and listened to the noise and said they would sort it out. About 10 minutes later customer services asked if the noise had stopped and I advised that it had not. They put me through to the Customer Services Manager (I think it was Daniel) who apologised and explained to me that infact the room above me was used for back of house/ room servicing and that they had asked the staff to be quieter. Daniel did not try to fob me off and asked if I wanted to change rooms, which I said I did. He upgraded us to a Victoria suite in the historic Chambers Building. I am not sure of the price of this suite but from the website but if it is a one bedroomed Chambers suite, you will be able to see that it costs several times my room in the Barlow Wing.
So full marks to Daniel for resolving a huge problem with our room. However I said to him and I would say here, that in my view, Room 251 should not be sold to guests.
Lastly I have a couple of comments on the suite, having stayed in it, which I did not share with Daniel.
The light bulb in the living room table light had burnt out.
There are ceiling mounted halogen lights outside the bathroom, but we could not find any light switch to switch them on.
The shower mixer in the bathroom comprises 3 rotary dials of which only one is subtlely marked. That marking appears to indicate waterflow. Dangerously, the water temperature dial is not marked in anyway that I could see. Thus I had no idea that it was the temperature control, nor which direction was hot or cold. Fortunately, I froze myself rather than scalded myself, but someone will scald themselves. The remaining dial, I discovered, switches between conventional shower and rainforest shower. I manage the construction of 6 star hotels here in Asia, where I live, for a living and I would never allow such a poorly marked fitting in any shower in a Hotel that I built.
-- Edited by SteveHK at Aug 17, 2011 8:51 PM PDT
Thank you for your observations. The fact that the hotel occupies a Grade 1 Listed Building itself creates expectations beyond those normally associated with a new site. I found yours a very measured and fair assessment. May I ask one supplementary question: Did you use the main restaurant - the Brasserie? If so, what were your reactions?
My wife and I only ate lunch in The Booking Office. They do not have an F&B outlet called The Brasserie as far as I know. The Booking Office food was good and the service reasonable.This F&B outlet was very popular with a lot of people coming in for a drink or a meal
Now I have checked the website and the Gilbert Scott Restaurant is described as a British Brasserie. We did not eat there, although it looked very nice. We got lost in the hotel once and ended up at the Gilbert Scott Restaurant reception and got directions from them back to the suite.
We had breakfast in the Club lounge which also has very impressive architecture and a beautiful spiral staircase.
Thank you, SteveHK. My hope is that, in time, the Brasserie might turn out to be as spectacular as the premises it occupies. A lot of effort and resource has been invested in it.
If other Insiders have experience of it, I'd ben very interested to read their comments.
I'm sure that it is a wise move - sad to say; I had high hopes of the St Pancras - and of course it would have been so convenient for your return trip to Paris. But there are always unforeseen risks in converting old buildings to a world in which much more demanding standards and expectations are the norm.
I trust you will have a great time in London.
Need some advice!
I am taking the Eurostar to/back from London to Paris on 10/12, Any suggestions? I have to be in Paris for dinner at 5 PM and will return to London.
Planning to buy the tickets two days before we travel at St. Pancras, is this the best method of getting tickets. This is what I have done in the past, but never know if it is the best way to buy?
There are only two potential difficulties in buying tickets at St Pancras today: (a) the train you want might be fully booked, but that is always a risk and you should be OK traveling on a Monday; and (b) the Booking Hall itself might be busy with the result that you have to queue for, say, up to 30 mins - again unlikely. What are the "pluses": well, you could make your booking and then call in at the Renaissance upstairs for a glass of "something or other" to calm your nerves.
However, another option would be to make an "on-line" booking, via the Eurostar website, which you could do from your hotel room, using a credit card. You would need access to a printer - the copy and your credit card being used by Eurostar on-board staff to validate your purchase during the journey.
I imagine you looking to buy some mint-condition euro coinage. This could be prove to be very wise if the currency collapses in the near future.
I am buying other currencies! We could see the Euro go the way of the "Dodo Bird"!
Thanks for the advice on the Eurostar! I am going at Noon on Wed to Paris, then back that evening. Seats are available, and I just think I will wait to get my tickets either at the hotel or enjoy the "Splendor" of St. Pancras.
Good travels to you Arkwright!
Thanks again for your suggestions! Went from County Hall to St. Pancras and got my tickets! Wow, the place had really changed from just two years ago. There were a lot more trains, shops, and people. Short wait, but I have been criticized for doing my "Recon" work, but it has paid off for me! They have changed some things around and I would not have know that till I got to the station. Why stress yourself anymore than you have to!
Getting set for a special trip on Wed., will send some pictures!
More London threads