I just returned from (another!) fabulous week in London, but this time I did experience a little unexpected stress as far as our accommodations went. I returned to London along with my sister for a girls trip, as well as the opportunity to spend time with my youngest son who is studying there for the year.
As shopping was going to be one of the main activities of this trip, we wanted to stay in the Knightsbridge area in order to be able to be in walking distance of many of the great shops and boutiques. The Berkeley seemed to fit the bill. From what we had heard it was chic and happening, and in a great location. We booked a Junior Suite through my Virtuoso travel agent, with hopes of being upgraded to a full suite (subject to availability, but almost always the case). Our main caveat was a spacious room with two separate beds and a roomy sitting area. We were assured this wouldn’t be a problem, and had a confirmation saying just that.
I landed at about 11 am, picked up my bag and was met by a friendly driver from the hotel. We puled up, and I smiled at the entry way. This seemed promising, and the location was great.
As we were staying right before Valentine’s Day, the Lobby was decked out with a festive display.
So happy and bright!
The bar looked inviting too.
The lobby was stylish and hip, so I was looking forward to seeing our room. My sister had arrived earlier (7 am), and because our room wasn’t ready they gave her a room in which she could change, and rest if she liked. She actually went right to sleep until I arrived. While I didn’t get a chance to take a pic, it was modern, and nicely appointed.
The very nice woman at reception explained that our room wouldn’t be ready until later that afternoon, and unfortunately they had no upgrade available. The hotel was full. She did assure us we would be happy with our Junior Suite. I left her with a generous tip, and asked her to work on it for us.
We left our bags in the temporary room, and set out for a full day of exploration. I will write up a detailed account in my next post, as for now I want to focus on what we now refer to as the Hotel Debacle. We returned to the hotel at about 6:30, laden down with shopping bags, and were shown to our room.
We both looked at one another and had the same thought, not acceptable. My sister and I are cut from the same cloth. We are notoriously hard to please when it comes to hotels. Upon exploration of the room (which didn’t take long) I was on the phone to my travel agent, and she was on with the desk.
As you can see below, these are not two separate beds.
The decor was so sad and underwhelming, there were no words to adequately describe our dissatisfaction. I had to send photos to our travel agent.
The artwork?! They were trying to pre-empt our disappointment with a generous display of flowers, champagne, and nibbles, but alas, it didn’t work.
This decor is more in keeping with a Hilton Garden Inn than what we anticipated from the Berkeley.
I had to snap one more close-up of the “separate beds”.
Needless to say, we had to scramble to find rooms that were available at another Hotel nearby. We were working against the clock as we had dinner plans at 8:30 that evening and we had to move hotels, wash up, and get going. The Berkeley said they may be able to upgrade us the next day, but at the point we both had had it. My travel agent found us two adjoining rooms at The Lanesborough , also in Knightsbridge, just a 5 minute car ride away. We settled up with the Berkeley, there was no penalty to check out early, and in fact my sister’s stay upon her arrival as well as her breakfast was comped. They were so anxious to see us go that they sent us to the Lanesborough in the hotel car.
When we pulled up, we breathed a sigh of relief. While not stylish or hip, the Lanesborough is traditional English luxury.
They were able to put us in two side by side rooms for the same price as our sad Junior Suite at The Berkeley. They also assured us that they would be able to upgrade us the following day. We felt like princesses!
As it turns out, there was an issue with the shower drain, so I was relieved we would be changing rooms, but it was so sunny and happy.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast in the spectacular dining room. Really, it was dreamy.
My inner Anglophile was in heaven.
We lingered over breakfast each day for a long time, the setting was just perfect.
The food was yummy, and abundant (and included as a Virtuoso amenity).
We spent the day out and about, and when we returned we were shown to our new rooms. We had two massive rooms that connected internally. This was my sister’s entrance.
The first thing I noticed was some welcoming champagne from our incredibly patient and accommodating travel agent, relieved that we were finally happy at the Lanesborough!
We were finally content, and with good reason. The rooms, as well as the service at The Lanesborough were perfect. There is a Butler on call 24 hours a day ready to bring a pot of tea at the touch of a button. The bedroom was completely sound-proofed and complete with black-out shades, really ideal for a good nights sleep.
The shower drain worked, no complaints there.
The bar was stocked and ready.
While we didn’t have meals other than breakfast, the hotel Restaurant Celeste has received a Michelin start, and shares the same setting as the stunning breakfast dining room. The hotel also features The Library Bar which is dark and atmospheric, totally cozy and inviting. We stopped in for a drink before dinner one night. The drinks were excellent, and the corn nuts were on point as well.
On the day we were supposed to check out London was hit with what they dubbed the storm of the century, Ciara which ended up wreaking havoc on the airports and many flights were cancelled, including mine. My sister got off o.k. (with lengthy delays) to the East Coast, but I was rescheduled on a flight the following morning as I was heading to Salt Lake City. The Lanesborough was very helpful in extending my stay an extra night, even offering me a discount on the room due to the unforeseen circumstances.
The morning of my flight I had breakfast brought to the room at 5:45 am, and it arrived as ordered, nice and hot. I was sad to leave this fabulous hotel.
The moral of the story? Avoid the Berkeley, get a great travel agent, and always be ready for some travel snafus.
We loved the Lanesborough, and I will most certainly return.
Love this!!!! It was the best trip and you summed up the debacle perfectly! We will be back Lanesborough!
I had a terrible experience at the Berkeley years ago too- poor service, really mediocre room and terrible attitude – and have never been back. I decamped to the Connaught but the Lanesborough looks lovely! I’ll have to try it.
It really was a disappointment! The Lanesborough was terrific, the Connaught is still on my list.
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