News & Reviews Europe England What did your hotel do for Christmas?

The Connaught, London
Room type: Prince’s Lodge
24th > 27th December, 2017
Booked with:
 Dorsia Travel

Rather than boasting about my Christmas and how I avoid all family arguments by avoiding my family, I thought it would be interesting to see what a luxury hotel does over the festive period.

Every time I fly from London Heathrow I stay in London the night before, due to a combination of being 50 minutes closer to the airport, and believing money grows on trees.  This has traditionally been The Connaught and has meant every year as I head off on my warm Christmas holidays I get to see the amazing effort gone into creating what Christmas should feel like.  And then I wonder why I’m going.  So rather than visiting yet another private island/Aman/paradise, for just the second time in 10 years I decided to spend Christmas in England.  For some reason it sounded better in my mind than writing it down.

The Connaught offered a Christmas package that contained the following, according to the brochure….

Welcome bottle of champagne and festive treats in the room

Mini Christmas trees in all one-bed and signature suites

Carol singing on Christmas Eve

At bedtime, children find milk, cookies (to leave outside the door for Father Christmas) and carrots (for the reindeer)

N/A.  Never stop believing!  Give me my milk and cookies!  

Adults’ and children’s stockings

Your own horse-drawn carriage to take you for a nostalgic, carefree ride around the elegant streets of Mayfair – keep your hands warm on a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows

An exquisite 5-course lunch served on Christmas Day in Jean-Georges or Hélène Darroze

Specially dedicated play spaces for children

That’s discrimination.  Where’s my area?  You already stole my milk and cookies and now this?!

A love letter from the GM

Ok, things started to get weird.  Should I respond?  Do I need to let him down gently?  Will it be awkward next time we meet?

Seeing that the last time I even saw the GM was at the beginning of the year, I’m deeply touched he remembers me and continues to think of me this way.  It’s good to know that he’s just shy and I am actually always in his thoughts.

The greatest benefits are often those intangible: the suffocating joy from the staff; the welcome from an overwhelming number of familiar faces; the buzz from the guests; the Front Office Manager dressed as Santa; the polaroid provided after the horse-drawn carriage ride.  What a delight to enjoy Christmas was it was intended: in a freezing cold, grey environment warmed up only by the joy of having more than those less fortunate, but definitely less than whoever is currently in the penthouse.

There is no doubt that they fulfilled everything they said they would and it exceeded my expectations, although I will definitely take issue with the use of the word “exquisite” describing the lunch.  “Adequate” may have been a better adjective.  Helene Darroze was not in the kitchen due to having recently broken her arm, but my suspicion is more that she deliberately injured herself to pass the blame of this monstrosity onto someone else.  It’s what Jesus would do.  And then to add insult to (her) injury, they put the price of £295 on the menu, to somehow make you appreciate it more.  If you want me to appreciate it, I would recommend not adjusting the menu for allergies by simply removing the lobster from the lobster dish.  Imagine what they would have done were I allergic to turkey: a few pieces of vegetables on a plate?

I would take further issue with their blatant attempt at exploiting the Christmas spirit by forcing a Christmas Eve menu on us at Jean-Georges, only to be willing to change it to a la carte when we started it and didn’t like it.  I’m happy paying £300 for a meal – heck we just came back from Tokyo where no meal cost less – just not at the quality offered by the conveyor-belt feeling of Jean-Georges.  That restaurant has turned into a brutal mistake – often mine for going there.  There is a direct correlation between the amount of time I spend there and the amount of hatred I have towards it.

Yet let me not end on a negative note, for it is Christmas.  Even with the food being as good value as low-fat bottled water, I would still stay again; we had more fun than an alcoholic locked in a brewery.  Now excuse me whilst I go start a pointless argument, just to it truly feels like Christmas.

Anyone wish to share what their hotel did for Christmas?  

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 26th Dec '17

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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