Posted by: Sarah Lee | February 20, 2010

Nice hotel, no cigar

Modern design in the Marriott Grosvenor Square's lobby

This blog has moved! As nice as is there’s a new all singing and dancing Sarah Lee travels blog waiting to inspire you with travel tales, ideas, deals and lots of fun stuff. So stop hanging around here and click the link above to come on over and take a look…

This week this blog was added to hotel recommendation site Gekko’s list of favourite travel blogs. This is already an esteemed list highlighting some of  my favourites such as 501 Places, Europe a la Carte and Traveldudes so it’s an honour to be featured there.

Gekko is a new site which takes details of your favourite places to stay then uses your preferences to recommend a hotel you might like in another city. It got me thinking about what we look for in hotels and it just so happened that the whole thing coincided with my stay this week at the Marriott Grosvenor Square, London.

At around £200 a night room-only this Mayfair-based five-star promises much, and as I’d never stayed at a Marriott before I was looking forward to it. The hotel is a mix of traditional refinement and modern design and features Maze Grill, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. But I found it rather unremarkable.

Let’s get the good stuff out of the way first: the hotel’s five-star – it’s none too shabby – the public areas in particular are quite stylish. The rooms have comfy king/queen size beds, 32″ flatscreen TVs, iHome docking clock radios (wanted to take mine home, but it’s still safely ensconced in the room!), while the hotel has two restaurants, lots of conference facilities and a well-stocked gym – a great find in any hotel.

Rooms at the Marriott are comfortable, but is it the sort of place you'd recommend?

But where the hotel fails is in just being too blah. There is very little to distinguish it and make you glad you’d invested your £200 in the Marriott brand – it’s like every other identikit city centre hotel.
Another factor that disturbs me is this: if I’m forking out £200 a night for a room I really don’t then expect to pay £5 an hour, or £15 a day, for wifi! Please Mr Marriott read my previous posts on the value of free wifi in hotels, cut this fee and join the cause. You can recoup the money by cutting turn-down service and the two chocolates you left by my bed each night.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a bad hotel. But is it the sort of place I’d recommend? For a place to rest your head for the night, yes, but I’m sure there are more interesting stays in central London at this price and less.

The trouble is that today, we look for more from hotels. Be it a one-star or five, we like it to have a bit of character or interest. In fact on my recent visit to Tenerife I saw just how important destination hotels have become, with hotels with the wow-factor like Gran Melia Palacio de Isora, inspiring guests to stay in-house longer with incredible design and little luxuries.

Interestingly I was staying at the Marriott Grosvenor Square for Fractional Summit – the annual meeting of minds in the fractional industry. In fact Marriott’s luxurious 47 Park Street is rightly one of the leading lights in the fractional industry. Another fractional that I’ve stayed at in London, Ultimate Escapes at Butler’s Wharf offers luxury fittings, a home-from-home feel and a grand view. It’s the sort of thing I’ll be looking for in my next stay in the city.

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