As with people, so with hotels; arrogance can be an expression of insecurity. 'Exclusive' means that part of the enjoyment lies in the knowledge that the pleasure is unavailable to most people. It's not a noble sentiment. True class is inclusive; take Corbyn & King's London restaurants, where everyone is treated equally, whether they are there for a break from shopping with tea and a teacake or for a prolonged bonus-fuelled blow out.
I took my girlfriend to Stockholm to celebrate my forthcoming birthday. I know and love the city; this was her first time. I chose Ett Hem on the basis of glowing reviews and, from a design perspective it didn't disappoint - it is a flawlessly beautiful and comfortable space.
If only the experience had lived up to the aesthetics. We arrived to find the hotel had no evidence of our booking. This happens, fair enough. However, we found ourselves treated, by the ice maiden at reception, as if this was our problem or mistake and, moreover, both got the palpable feeling that - until the booking could be found - we were anything but welcome. We were imposters, guilty until proven innocent. While we waited for our booking to be retrieved - eventually - from the Small Luxury Hotels of the World website, a guest (the only one we saw all weekend) walked through the lobby and glared at us - twice - as if we had crawled out from under the skirting. I started this feel that I actually had made a mistake; in booking the place at all.
Fortunately, the rest of the weekend went smoothly and the remainder of the staff were unfailingly relaxed, friendly and helpful. But a whiff of snobbery from our unwelcoming welcome hung in the air throughout.
If you are going to call a place 'At Home' and charge a small fortune for the privilege of sharing it, then please put as much thought into designing the customer experience as you do into the cushions. And please, please don't put someone on the front desk who doesn't have the self-awareness to leave their uptightness and froideur at the door when they come to work.
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