BBC2 took us on a trip into one of the last bastions of British Gentility as it once would have been. The Claridge’s Hotel in London. To call Claridge’s well-appointed is to understate its poshness. It is like a shop with no price tags, a club with comfortable well-preserved Chesterfield chairs, a church with wedding banns from the 1700′s.
I often find with these things it is the scale, or sometimes the detail of what goes behind the scenes that is impressive. With Claridge’s I was impressed the longevity of service of the staff, the fact that the hotel had their own tailors making made to measure uniforms for staff, and the scale of their laundry operation. Not sexy but very impressive.
In times where so much is outsourced and contracted out, retaining full ownership of the what makes you unique may not be the most profitable way to run a business but it almost certainly ensures that you can maintain the quality you are renowned for, and maybe also allow you to get away with charging £6,900 per night for your most expensive room. A move that is not going to make you popular on TripAdvisor.
The eye watering charges notwithstanding, it does come across as a great hotel, an institution that has stood the test of time.
We saw a sample of the guests attracted by its opulence, The Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, the actress Joan Collins and an East End Bookie made good, old money, celebrity and a geezer with lots of cash. I suspect in the old days the cockney geezer may have had a somewhat harder time getting the welcome he gets now.
Like the Hotel itself the programme was gently reassuring. The Manager Thomas, with his clipped German accent, exuded an aura of Teutonic efficiency but still showed a clear appreciation of the importance of tradition.
If I had the cash to blow, I think a few nights at Claridge’s would definitely be on my list.
And Oh the answer to the question is 4. That’s how many members of staff it takes to choose an Alarm clock at Claridge’s.