Nicholas Huntsman on how London hotels are being set-up to accommodate the unnatural arena of a celebrity press junket
Meeting rooms trump spas when it comes to attracting celebrities on publicity junkets.
Celebrities in town to promote their latest movie or book are making their choice of hotel based on how well connected the hotel’s meeting rooms are.
That’s according to the Corinthia Hotel in London’s Whitehall, which since opening in 2011 has had everyone from Johnny Depp and George Clooney to Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce Knowles pass through its first floor meeting rooms.
Popular: Many press junkets are held at the Corinthia Hotel in London’s Whitehall
These are working trips for the A-listers. They may enjoy the five-star service, choice of restaurants (Massimo Restaurant & Oyster Bar or The Northall), 3,300 sqm underground spa on three levels or Whitehall location, but like any other business traveller, what they are mostly doing is having meetings and selling their products.
In practice, that involves meeting long lines of press – both print and broadcast – a process parodied in the film Notting Hill (see below).
In turn, what the entertainment companies are looking for is well-connected meeting facilities – those with state-of-the-art broadcasting systems installed on opening after a total refurbishment of the property costing some £300 million in 2011.
For junkets, interviews and broadcasts – the reason most Hollywood stars are in central London in the first place – many older hotels require a booster truck outside to allow live feeds of interviews with the stars.
In contrast, the Corinthia has five connected rooms on the first floor of the hotel, with each room capable of handling up to four cameras that run back to the media room (or control room) and a bank of monitors.
Awkward: The unnatural process of a press junket was parodied in Notting Hill
Firmdale Hotels is opening its Ham Yard property in May with what is promised to be state-of-the-art communications
The system is backwards compatible – so it can offer standard definition and work with older systems, while at the same time can facilitate audio breakout without any additional hardware. It means a full broadcast camera can be connected and controlled from the media room via SMPTE camera fibre, eliminating the need for additional cables between rooms and corridors.
In preparation for interview, the huge Espa Life spa has Daniel Galvin’s Ultimate Make-Over Room. According to the hotel, the salon “incorporates the experience and insight of celebrated hair colourist Daniel Galvin and world famous, Oscar-winning make-up artists, Lois Burwell”. The room has high spec Kino-Flo True match lamps lighting to recreate both movie lighting and natural daylight.
While there’s no doubt Corinthia has done well in the celebrity stakes, competition is fierce. Long-time favourite Dorchester has stayed at the top of its game both for its service and location on Park Lane, and has also upgraded its own systems, while the Firmdale Hotels (Covent Garden Hotel, Soho Hotel) also draws celebrities, and is opening a new property Ham Yard in May 2014 with what is promised to be state-of-the-art communications.
Next time you are flicking through the channels and catch one of these “talent” interviews, try and guess the hotel.
For a review of the Corinthia, click here.
Read our contributor biography of Nicholas Huntsman.