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Yesterday I spent the day travelling around London, meeting clients and contacts.

During the course of my travels I went to lunch at Colbert. As a restaurant group Corbin and King believe in offering you Substance with Style and as a business they are really building themselves a legacy. From start to finish the visit was positive, the no fuss Maître D who advised they could happily fit us in even though the restaurant was full to the efficient smiling waitress who delivered a simple yet very taste Croque Madame. When asked, they responded and when needing space to talk they were out of ear shot. The restaurants are elegant but not ostentatious and this group knows there stuff, they deliver great service, good food and all at a reasonable price. I left with a smile and a thank you from the staff.

At the other end of the scale I visited the Firmdale’s Ham Yard Hotel. Now the hotel has a wow factor, great location, great design and a flow and style that is unique to the brand. One can only dream to arrive home and see an oversized armchair made up of 150 different colours and a having the word “Home” in a 10 foot neon sign hanging above my corner bar. The colours, the patterns, the imagery is great, and I am sure the deservedly win award after award for design.

However this is very much Style over Substance. From the moment I enter to the moment I leave I feel totally underwhelmed by the staffs engagement. This started with the two staff who stand at the front entrance tightly clutching clipboards to a small army on both side of reception desk who without customers checking in, were all huddled together talking. Little or no eye contact was offered to me at any time and when I said I was there for a meeting I was not asked where, if, whom or why, I was simply allowed to stroll around and find myself somewhere to sit.

It being a nice sunny day we sat in the court yard but after 20 minutes of waiting we had to ask the waitress if we could order some food and drink. The waitress to say looked disinterested was an understatement. We were asked if we wanted to open a tab or pay as we go and I opted for the later. As I spent a couple of hours there with different guests every time we ordered the waitress kept asking if we wanted to open a tab and in the end I asked why we needed to. Her response was with a shrug and even a little sigh “because it’s what we are told to say to everyone”.

One of the meetings was a friend who is one of the UKs top F & B Consultants and as we sat there he commented on just how bad the service was which is amazing as he uses the place regularly. When we left I smiled and said thank you to the service staff, and then realised isn’t that supposed to be the other way round!!!

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