It’s all about the service and vibe whether in Darlington or NYC

I have been lucky enough over the last few weeks to stay in a number of wonderful hotels whilst travelling on business. Let me tell you about my favourites, though very different each were equally extraordinary because their teams made me feel as if I was the most important guest that day.

I have to admit I am not great fan of branded hotel chains, (ok except the Ritz Carlton). I often find their cookie cutter, bottom line led approach over bearing and I feel like a number in a guest factory, so when The Hoxton (my favourite hotel) decided to expand I was worried that Sharan was going to ruin the integrity of the hotel, I could not have been more wrong.

I was lucky enough to spend some time at The Hoxton Williamsburg last week, it was glorious. They have managed to take their culture and translate it to fit each global destination. The team welcomed me with open arms, no smaltzy USA have a nice day instead everyone had a genuine warmth and enthusiasm.

The decor was relaxed, with lots of nooks and crannies to work, hold informal meetings or drink cocktails in all afternoon which is the vibe I love so much in both the London and the Amsterdam properties.

Sitting at the counter in Kleins chatting to the chefs, hearing their stories and watching them make the best burger in NYC was a delight. Timothy ( the M.D. originally from The Hoxton Shoredich ) even popped in to say hello as he had seen on social media we were there.

It truly felt like a home from home despite being a global brand / hotel chain. To be honest I am already planning my next visit and wondering whether a road trip to Portland to see their newest one should be on the agenda.

Now contrast this with Rockliffe Hall in Darlington UK, this privately owned hotel has managed to combine all the glory of a grand dame building, it’s heritage and stunning views with modern service and boutique touches.

The team were attentive, inclusive and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble, they genuinely wanted to give you the best experience possible without being pompous or in your face.

You could tell that both hotels were “guest led” with committed and charismatic senior teams whose enthusiasm and passion runs like a red thread through the business. Their role modelling behaviours have set the tone in each of the hotels which in turn has led to engaged employees and a superb service.

Despite one being a “chain” and the other an independent their similar approach to service, guest focus and the delivery of excellence meant each are now in my top ten favourite hotels list.

If you get the opportunity pop into either of them and see for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. If you are hotelier ditch the process over people approach, get back to the floor and remind yourself and your team that it is all about the guest.

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you develop a great culture to ensure you gain competitive advantage through the delivery of service excellence contact me at

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