When Jeremy King, half of the dynamic duo behind The Beaumont Hotel, took to the stage at the Independent Hotel Show, we had to be there. Right on the front line, our reporter Joe Peskett went along to get the inside scoop from one of hospitality’s most respected stalwarts.
Why go into hotels? Hotels are the ultimate experience of hospitality… A lot of it is the same. I would create a hotel that I would like to go to. So often hotels have no sense of purpose, heart or soul. The ultimate challenge is hotels.
The ideas behind the Beaumont came from the way people are drawn to history… and I do find it easier to draw on the past. Whilst it remains my ambition to make a truly 21st century, contemporary brasserie. Most rooms in hotels, most couples get up at a different time. So I had an idea. When I get up from the bedroom I will have a sliding door.
That was all quite easy, that was practical but what the heck was the hotel going to be? It’s much easier if you’ve got a history to work from. I thought maybe I should just write a history and make it up. I constructed in my mind a fictional character called Jimmy, based in 1926 America during the Prohibition era.
It was all imaginary but because I never published the story, but people would come to me and say, I believe one of my family relations stayed at your hotel. If we give our hotel individuality then we have a chance. Design should never cry out for attention but withstand scrutiny.
I have got a great belief that entrances to hotels are important… You need to walk into a lobby and know exactly where everything is.
We have been approached by people from outside of London. I think you are at risk if your property becomes an asset, you are at risk if your staff become human resources. I see too many people see someone walk through the door as a source of income. You have to look at someone as an opportunity for them to have a good time. Too many people are thinking about a product and not an experience.
If I could open my perfect hotel… you would have a range of categories, for example, a four star floor and a three star one. You must give people the opportunity to spend but you must not make it mandatory. I’m interested in the new wave hotels who say, what do we want from a hotel? A good shower, nice sheets, security and especially female security.
I’m opposed to dynamic pricing… In our business you need loyalty. If you keep within a brand and if you publish different rates it evens out over the years. When hospitality businesses are run through the board room that’s when they go wrong. It’s always about treating people how you would like to be treated yourself. When I turn up at a hotel I don’t want someone asking do you have a reservation? I want somebody to have made the trouble and they say good morning Mr King, welcome and they should know how long your journey has been. You can get that at small hotels. Would you like a tea or coffee? That’s the first question you should ask.
Too often we all sit on our laurels… If all you aim to achieve is maintaining your standards they will decline. At The Wolseley I change the layout of the menu twice a year. My advice: can you sum up your business in one hotel? If you can’t you have to look at it and if your business is just an amalgamation of styles and trends people will see it’s not sincere. The danger of trends which become band wagons. If you try and jump on a moving wagon you can fall flat on your face.