Hotel: Backstairs at the World's Most Exclusive Hotel

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For generations, Claridge's Hotel in London has been the hotel, the place to which the titled, the leisured, and the pampered return year after year, decade after decade, expecting and receiving the very finest in service. In The Hotel we are whisked behind the ornate facades and eighteenth-century tapestries and shown the workings of luxury. To research this book, author Jeffrey Robinson spent months at Claridge's following the staff on its rounds and listening to their stories about the clientele. Led by their ...
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Overview

For generations, Claridge's Hotel in London has been the hotel, the place to which the titled, the leisured, and the pampered return year after year, decade after decade, expecting and receiving the very finest in service. In The Hotel we are whisked behind the ornate facades and eighteenth-century tapestries and shown the workings of luxury. To research this book, author Jeffrey Robinson spent months at Claridge's following the staff on its rounds and listening to their stories about the clientele. Led by their intrepid general manager, the staff must handle every contingency - from protecting a president to feeding a king - with unfailing delicacy and unflappable aplomb. Even non-VIP guests can require special care and handling: one insists on having blue toilet paper in the bathroom, never white; one demands that a barber's chair be set up in his room when he stays there; some guests need to sleep facing north, others facing east. All such details are scrupulously recorded in the general manager's logbook, so that every client's whim is anticipated, every wish fulfilled. Also recorded are the names of guests who steal everything they can lay their hands on, default on payment, or act in a manner that is outrageously indiscreet.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
A guest at Claridge's Hotel in London once asked the hall porter to find him an elephant for his friends to ride in the park. With scarcely a hesitation, the porter persuaded the London Zoo to supply one. Another guest requested that a courier fly to Nice to pick up his watch. The porter arranged it. These are among the stories here about innkeeping in one of the world's grandest hotels. Robinson (The Laundrymen) has dogged out the minutiae: Claridge's chef will use only a balsamic vinegar flown in from France that cost more than $100 a bottle; the manager has slept in every room to become intimately knowledgeable with their individual comforts. And there is enough detail about floral arrangements, security, food preparation, computerized records, cost controls, service, staff training and exquisite handling of elegant guests who leave without paying their bills or take expensive hotel equipment for souvenirs to provide a blueprint for anyone considering running a hotel on any scale. The gossip about the rich patrons will tickle tabloid fans. Stylish prose it is not, however.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A guest at Claridge's Hotel in London once asked the hall porter to find him an elephant for his friends to ride in the park. With scarcely a hesitation, the porter persuaded the London Zoo to supply one. Another guest requested that a courier fly to Nice to pick up his watch. The porter arranged it. These are among the stories here about innkeeping in one of the world's grandest hotels. Robinson (The Laundrymen) has dogged out the minutiae: Claridge's chef will use only a balsamic vinegar flown in from France that cost more than $100 a bottle; the manager has slept in every room to become intimately knowledgeable with their individual comforts. And there is enough detail about floral arrangements, security, food preparation, computerized records, cost controls, service, staff training and exquisite handling of elegant guests who leave without paying their bills or take expensive hotel equipment for souvenirs to provide a blueprint for anyone considering running a hotel on any scale. The gossip about the rich patrons will tickle tabloid fans. Stylish prose it is not, however. (May)
Library Journal
Under the skillful direction of Franois Touzin, general manager of London's famous hotel Claridges, the staff go to extremes to meet the eccentric and demanding requirements of the hotel's diverse clientele. Robinson (The Launderymen, LJ 9/1/96) presents a behind-the-scenes look at the hotel industry through the introduction of a cast of characters who excel at this art. His fascinating and insightful observations cover everything from culinary delicacies and room service to security and renovations. Robinson highlights the precision and planning involved in the hotel's day-to-day operation, from banquets that cost l70,000 ($272,000) and last only 96 minutes to the importance of tea sets or room colors for guests. An informative narrative deliciously sprinkled with humorous tidbits that will leave readers entertainedand no doubt dreaming of their own visit.Jo-Anne Mary Benson, Osgoode, Ontario
Booknews
Armchair travelers will delight in the author's descriptions of daily life at Claridge's hotel in London<-->where the champagne is chilled to the right temperature, the truffles are prepared just so, the linen sheets are crisp but soft, and the silverware is always buffed to a shine. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A day-in-the-life view of venerable Claridge's of London.

Some say that hotels sell sex. But according to Robinson (Bardot: Two Lives, not reviewed), what the expensive old inn on Brook Street sells is sleep: They feature mattresses so comfortable that the king of Morocco, who had come to the hotel with his own bed, ordered them for all the beds in his palace. If God is in the details, then Claridge's is a holy place, selling not only serene sleep but a kind of Edwardian service that is almost extinct. One customer wants his door handles wrapped in Kleenex. They are. The actor Edward G. Robinson had the concierge buy him two French poodles, and the president of South Korea, whose large party arrives with 450 pieces of luggage, needs the TVs in his suite replaced with sets made in Korea. Although the hotel does not sell sex, and no unregistered guests are allowed in the rooms after 11 p.m., like a good brothel it knows how to give a lot of bang for the buck. A Mr. Al-Turki will be spending some $75,000 for his six-week hotel visit. He would like to be called Your Excellency, and the staff is instructed to do just that. The centerpiece of Robinson's grand-hotel diary is a lavish state banquet given for Queen Elizabeth by the amir of Kuwait. For two hours of good food and appropriate conversation in a re-created desert tent in Claridge's ballroom, the amir spends nearly $300,000, and the hotel staff brings the project off with an attention to detail worthy of a NASA launching, including the creation of a silver pot used to hold the amir's plastic container of supermarket yogurt.

The soul of discretion, Robinson has agreed not to mention many clients' names or their hotel room numbers. As Claridge's centennial year approaches, it may need a little interesting p.r., and this book should do nicely.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559703772
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/15/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 1.11 (d)

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