The Baglioni Hotel, London
Room type: De Vere Suite
Duration: 12th > 13th January, 2018
Booked with: Dorsia Travel
As part of my escapades into staying in all 22 AMEX FHR properties in London, I am now down to scraping the barrel. And it has shown, with numero 3 left on my list, The Baglioni. We stayed for 1 night. The problem is, we booked 2 nights, and I am now typing this from The Connaught instead. From the spa, naturally, because life stresses can be bothersome.
The hotel did not do anything that would warrant walking, but I simply had to ask myself what extra I would receive from staying here for 2 nights that I had not already learnt from 1? The hotel was not going to mysteriously change overnight, no matter how much the Internet warrior in me tried.
I enjoy using the hotel facilities, even as a non-drinker I’m happy to get acquainted with the bar. When it comes to properties like The Lanesborough, Connaught, The Goring and others that my memory cannot stretch back to remember, they are warm, cosy, relaxing, all whilst in an environment just desperate to give you a friendly hug. The Baglioni’s combined bar/restaurant had the atmosphere of the funeral of a beloved dictator. On a Friday night there were more staff than guests. So, with only one bar/restaurant and 3 spa treatment rooms, this was the only part of the hotel you could spend anytime. Unfortunately, we did spend time there, as the food was also hugely overpriced for what you received, with my girlfriend sending back a dish and my beef carpaccio being as tough and tasteless as a Marine fond of Damien Hirst. At least the staff had the decency to be kind, knowing it was the only trick they had left to convince anyone it was worth spending any money here.
As for the room, I quite liked it, with the beautiful bathroom and Italian inspired design. Where it felt cheap was the requirement for a key card to turn the electricity on, their criminal use of a plastic lid to cover the fruit, and their strange minibar policy of including it, but then having price lists, and then asking on departure if we took anything from it. I guess the Italian in them changed their mind. All small points, which they easily rectified by having the best bedsheets I’ve experienced in my 31 years. Most annoying was the positioning of the TV, like it was created to torture you, especially as it seems they thought that you would have enough to do that you would never watch it. The biggest issue was the curtains, which housekeeping did not close properly and street lights came on in the night and woke us up. We then tried to close them and could not. They did not seem to grasp the difficulty this presented to us and we woke up looking like Mike Tyson had assaulted us.
When I booked The Baglioni, my expectations were that it would compete with The Goring: both similar sized properties, both heavily design focused on national heritage (Italian/English), both in location just at the arse-end of their many better known competition (The Bulgari, Mandarin Oriental; The Berkeley and The Lanesborough), both family owned and both offering excellent service. Yet it was the service that was leagues apart between the two, with The Goring showing a true sense of hospitality and The Baglioni just muddling its way through life. If you do not have the hotel facilities, then you must compete on service.
The Baglioni is one of the weakest properties in the London FHR portfolio, but it is likely one of, if not, their cheapest. If you desperately want to be near the museums and are on a budget, maybe it will work for you. I just feel there must be better properties that would fit that criteria. Even though it is not competing against them, for comparison, The Baglioni’s Executive Suite, at 58sqm was £850/m, compared to The Connaught selling a 33sqm Deluxe King room for £690/n the same night. Were I not in London I would probably have just put up with it, but having been to London almost every week since I was 18, I have no interest in this area and I know that within one phone call and a 15 minute drive, I can be somewhere much better.
I am interested in what will happen with properties like The Baglioni with FHR. With yet another Mandarin, another Rosewood, a new Peninsula, Belmond and Waldorf Astoria (don’t laugh) opening in the next 3 years, there will soon be 27 London properties in the Fine Hotels and Resorts program. It sure feels like the Fine element of it may start to be negated.