Thursday, August 31, 2017

Peter Mayle on The Connaught Hotel (mid-1980s)

Author Peter Mayle describes what he likes about The Connaught Hotel (mid-1980s) in Acquired Tastes <>:
The lobby is tiny by contemporary standards, no bigger than your great-grandfather's study, and probably furnished in much the same way, with brass and glass and mahogany paneling, and carpets and chairs in those quiet colors that age gracefully until they achieve a kind of faded bloom. There is nothing to jar the eye, nothing too bright. Everything has a well-bred gleam... 
...[W]elcome was the absence of self-congratulatory literature— those overwritten puffs that most hotels cannot resist scattering throughout their rooms to promote their bars and restaurants and telex machines and conference facilities. Indeed, there was a sentence in the single sheet of guest information that... read: "Business meetings in public rooms will not be welcomed. " Work, like sex, should be conducted away from the view of other guests. The writer was a man after my own heart, and he was particularly firm on the matter of dress: "No jeans." I warmed to him even more. 
...I suppose the truth of it is that I am a sartorial snob. Jeans, running shoes, ski jackets, tennis shirts, yachting sweaters, great-white-hunter outfits, and Australian bush hats are all admirable garments in the right place and at the right time, but they look sloppy, incongruous, and rather silly in the middle of an elegant hotel. Some people may think it's chic to look like an escapee from a logging camp, but not me...
...[The staff was] more than professional. They were friendly, and many grand hotels are too busy being grand to be friendly... To find people like this, to train them and to keep them, costs far more than any number of superficially impressive luxuries. All the marble lobbies in the world can't compete with friendly human beings who are anxious to please you. That's what you pay for, and it's worth every cent.


  1. I have eyed that book for a while now and this quote just made me pull the trigger on a purchase. Thank you. GLH

  2. If you want something similar in Paris, check into Le Bristol. The one time I stayed there i saw Felix Rohatyn sitting in the lobby.

  3. Fond memories of frequent drinks, tea and Dover sole in the old Connaught, i.e. before the 2007 renovation :(

  4. For those of us without the disposable income of a CEO, a two minute walk down Mount Street from the Connaught and you're at The Audley, a traditional pub which has been in business since 1730. It was a favorite watering hole of US Embassy staff, whose offices are soon to be moved out of Mayfair to their new site in Nine Elms, southwest London.

  5. Several years ago when England and Argentina were at war, I was dining with friends at the Connaught. Almost silently the Maitre D' approached each table and quietly informed everyone in a hushed voice that he was very sorry and sad to advise that "we have lost the HMS Sheffield".
    With very little conversation, everyone quickly finished and with barely a word, departed.
    As for the Audley,"Towels up, Gents"
    R E Stone