JACKIE: We want to Talk about a hotel that comes from an amazing family of great lodgings and is hands-on owned by an amazing family of hoteliers. I’ve experienced several Red Carnation Hotels, and now I have another one beckoning. David will spin yet another tale of his spring trip.
DAVID: Leaving Paris is like saying goodbye to your wife or lover. (In my case, happily, one and the same.) It was made easier knowing I would return in the near future – and, by my journey back to London on Eurostar which is always comfortable, safe, and swift. I had time to enjoy the scenery, have a delicious lunch, and anticipate my two final days in London. Then, home to Jacqueline.
My residence for those London days was still another treasure in the Red Carnation Collection of wonderful hotels, The Chesterfield in Mayfair. Thanks to the Group’s marvelous VP of PR, lovely Arnelle Kendall, I would once more be in the lap of luxury. Now I could reel out the long list of awards and honors won by Red Carnation, but you can read all that online. Rather, let me paraphrase some of the thoughts expressed by the Chesterfield’s General Manager, Oliver Raggett and Executive Chef, Ben Kelliher. “It’s not all about money,” said Oliver, “it’s about the guests, putting their comfort above everything else. And the people that make it all happen and make it seem effortless. I have 110 in staff who follow the lead of our owner, Mrs. Bea Tollman, in delivering the best service possible.” Or even (in my experience) if impossible. Both GM and Chef agreed that having Mrs. Tollman’s personal and persistent goal of perfection in every area of her hotels has made them the wonders of the industry. It is her design of each bedroom that offers the kind of elegance and comfort one enjoys. It is her involvement in the kitchen, often supplying her own recipes that help make dining a brilliant experience. None of this is lip service, it is heart felt. I can assure you; the evidence is everywhere in her Red Carnation Hotels. And my stay at the Chesterfield was proof positive. My Mayfair Suite was beautifully decorated, the bed huge and supremely comfortable. The bathroom, complete with separate stall shower and whirlpool bath, and a signature red carnation. Complimentary WiFi, flat screen TV, the fresh fruit and bottled water, turndown service … all lavish touches are typical of Red Carnation. And dinner in Butlers Restaurant proved Chef Kelil’s claim that his Dover Sole (locally sourced and fresh daily) is the best in London. Not too shabby either: Orkney king scallops to start, a heavenly chopped salad, a sample of English rose veal with a lovely rose champagne and a brilliant red. Before dinner, drinks in the buzzy bar accompanied by the kind of music I love (Cole Porter, Noel Coward, etc.) from the piano of John Hudson promised my last London night would be something to write home about. So I am!
The delicious food is only one of the many reasons The Chesterfield enjoys a 65% return business and 38% American guests. I especially like the fact that the Red Carnation hotels are pet-friendly and that they match the one pound donation added to the bill of each guest for two worthy charities. The spirit of Red Carnation comes from the very top and is instilled by people like Oliver Raggett to each member of the staff of each hotel. There is an annual gathering of over 800 from all departments from every hotel (United Kingdom, South Africa, Switzerland, and the USA) which celebrates the importance of those who serve us, their guests. Prizes are awarded, entertainment, food, and drink supplied, and the spirit renewed.
Perhaps, after we’ve enjoyed each of the hotels in the Collection (4 achieved; 10 to go), Jackie and I might be invited to join in the celebration!
Fingers crossed; we’ll Travel….