This month the Independent Hotel Show hosted “The Power Breakfast” – an insight into what some of the country’s top critics believe is the perfect experience in the hospitality industry.
Over breakfast Juliet Kinsman, founding editor of the Mr and Mrs Smith guides and now eco-travel consultants Bouteco, interviewed the prized panel and delved into their views built on many years reviewing the sector.
With an audience of senior players in the hospitality industry in attendance, the renowned critics didn’t hold back on what they define as the ultimate experience in the sector. The conversation ranged from why Restaurants with Rooms are quaint and welcoming but may struggle financially moving forward, how the Airbnb model is disrupting tradition and even why sex toys (to be purchased) are just a little embarrassing to find in a bedroom drawer.
Columnist, broadcaster and author Grace Dent argued that, for her, all she really wanted from a hotel stay are the basics. Hot water, a clean bed and a plug socket close enough so she could check her phone whilst it charged by the bed. By contract Fiona Duncan, The Telegraphs Travel’s hotel expert linked a stay to feeling and simply defines an ideal stay as one with soul, character and to hold an expression of the owner. A plus is a connection to the location and Giles Coren, food writer and television presenter, added that he wants staff to be around at breakfast time with a chipper attitude, but not over the top. Giles also explained his frustration with hotels where the windows won’t open, a frustration given the need for fresh air.
With each offering a subjective view of the perfect experience it was intriguing to note that all the esteemed panel were concerned over the future of the industry and especially how the well-run properties, with buckets of personality may struggle. At the almost other end of the scale, it was also questioned how hotels could charge the rates they do for an overnight stay. Fiona asked how and why Hampshire the recently opened hotel, Heckfield Place, can charge £10,000 per night.
Juliet Kinsman also added her thoughts throughout the conversation and referred to the recently opened Bankside hotel on London’s South Bank and how the property is design-led. An interesting note given how hospitality operations may need to explore the power of art and design further, given question marks over food and service today.
The Independent Hotel Show, organised by Fresh Montgomery, should be commended for the role they play in bringing together the hospitality community on topics such as this. The audience clearly relished the panel discussion which took place over breakfast during the popular show. It makes one question whether shared content in relaxed settings is needed more so than ever before, as many ask question on the future of the industry and where it may be heading.