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THE HOTEL by Jeffrey Robinson

THE HOTEL

Backstairs at the World's Most Exclusive Hotel

By Jeffrey Robinson

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-55970-377-6
Publisher: Arcade

 A day-in-the-life view of venerable Claridge's of London. Some say that hotels sell sex. But according to Robinson (Bardot: Two Lives, not reviewed), what the expensive old inn on Brook Street sells is sleep: They feature mattresses so comfortable that the king of Morocco, who had come to the hotel with his own bed, ordered them for all the beds in his palace. If God is in the details, then Claridge's is a holy place, selling not only serene sleep but a kind of Edwardian service that is almost extinct. One customer wants his door handles wrapped in Kleenex. They are. The actor Edward G. Robinson had the concierge buy him two French poodles, and the president of South Korea, whose large party arrives with 450 pieces of luggage, needs the TVs in his suite replaced with sets made in Korea. Although the hotel does not sell sex, and no unregistered guests are allowed in the rooms after 11 p.m., like a good brothel it knows how to give a lot of bang for the buck. A Mr. Al-Turki will be spending some $75,000 for his six-week hotel visit. He would like to be called Your Excellency, and the staff is instructed to do just that. The centerpiece of Robinson's grand-hotel diary is a lavish state banquet given for Queen Elizabeth by the amir of Kuwait. For two hours of good food and appropriate conversation in a re-created desert tent in Claridge's ballroom, the amir spends nearly $300,000, and the hotel staff brings the project off with an attention to detail worthy of a NASA launching, including the creation of a silver pot used to hold the amir's plastic container of supermarket yogurt. The soul of discretion, Robinson has agreed not to mention many clients' names or their hotel room numbers. As Claridge's centennial year approaches, it may need a little interesting p.r., and this book should do nicely.