What makes a five-star hotel great?Back to Forum
Anonymous13 Apr 2012
We’ve received a review copy of Orient-Express: A Personal Journey, which tells the story of James B Sherwood’s relaunch of the Orient Express train service in the early 80s, and the creation of Orient Express Hotels.
The final chapter is Sherwood’s list of what makes a five-star hotel great. Below are a few excerpts from this chapter – we welcome comments and additional suggestions by readers…
Noise. A bedroom must be totally quiet, both from street noise and internal noise.
Reception. A guest in a five-star hotel should always be escorted to the room by a member of the reception staff, or if the porters are trained to explain the room features, by one of them as they accompany you with your luggage.
Concierge. Every five-star hotel must have a good concierge. The guest should understand that concierges often run their desks as private businesses, and are sometimes only paid minimum wage.
Doctors. Five-star hotels must have five-star doctors (and dentists) on call.
Lighting. For me the symbol of a cheapie hotel is always the wattage of their light bulbs. Young hotel general managers must be trained somewhere to put 40-watt light bulbs in room lamps instead of 100-watt ones.
Wifi, faxes and telephones. Wifi is now obligatory in all hotel rooms… The reception or concierge desks should be able to send and receive faxes and emails and deliver them promptly to the guest.
The bathroom. A five-star hotel bathroom should have a tub and separate shower stall, twin basins, WC in a separate room with a door, and full face lighting.
The bed and bedding. The minimum width of a king size bed should be 1.83 metres. It is vital that there be good bedside reading lights… The duvet is extremely warm and great for frigid Russia, Scandinavia and Germany where it has been popular forever. But in warmer climes it can be too warm, and five-star hotels should offer sheet and blanket options.
Room amenities. …I like, at a minimum, a bottle of premium beer in the mini-bar, some cold still water like Evian, a bar of Toblerone and a tin or bottle of salted cashews. I prefer a bottle of good still wine to sparkling wine. There is usually a fruit bowl, and the quality of the fruit can say a lot about the hotel’s standards. A cheese plate with biscuits is a popular arrival offering, as is a vase of fresh flowers nicely arranged… I always ask for an electric kettle, a selection of teas, and instant coffees, cold milk (for the tea), and cups and saucers and spoons for stirring… I hate with a passion soaps that are tightly wrapped in plastic because it is impossible to unwrap them with moist hands, so I always prefer that the soap be in paper wrapper.
Swimming pools, tennis courts and spas. Every five-star hotel should have a swimming pool but sometimes (rarely) it needs to be indoors… A pool must have a deep end and ideally this should be two metres…I was always a keen tennis player and felt that our resorts should have courts when feasible…An entire spa culture seems to have grown up over the last twenty years or so, and every hotel today has to have a spa.
Room service. I always judge the quality of room service by the croissants, the orange juice and the coffee… The style of artwork, china, linens, cutlery and glassware tells a lot about hotel owners and whether they are discriminating or not.13 Apr 2012
Lighting: good lighting but also appropriate lighting. Bright strip or spot lighting in the wardrobe, and mounted in front of the hanging rail (so it shines onto the clothes) or at worst overhead the rail. Too many hotels have the light at the back of the wardrobe, which means that if there is no light in the hallway directly outside the wardrobe it’s impossible to tell if that pair of trousers (or socks in the drawer) are navy, black or even dark brown!
At the time time, you want good ‘task lighting’ above the desk.
Speaking of which, a five star hotels needs a desk – something left off this list. A god sized desk with several AC outlets (using international multi-plug sockets) within easy reach, a proper chair with adjustable height and tilt plus proper lumbar support, and a desk that’s large enough to spread out your work on.13 Apr 2012