Last month I was doing a bit of work over in the states and managed to jam in some fun time with mm in New York and San Fransisco on the weekends in between the project stuff. I met mm first at The Hudson on West 58th Street. I was prepared for the size (or so I thought) by a text message from mm telling me my closet at home was bigger than the room. I had stayed in NY loads of times – I knew all about the pokey, expensive rooms, but the last few times visiting I had stayed at The Dream Hotel which was small but really comfortable – and apart from a strange night of screaming teenagers in the corridor during one stay it is generally pretty good. But the Hudson was something else…it wasn’t actually the room that really bugged me. It was the mood of the hotel. I never felt comfortable there.
I’m not a dag, and I’ve stayed at some pretty cool places around the world, but this place took the cake for attitude. Sloppy front desk service, security guards who acted (grunted) like they were on human growth hormones, and a night desk clerk with the worst service ethos I have ever experienced. If Russel Crowe was stuffed around at the Mercer in the same way that I was by said security guard and night desk clerk as I did one night at the Hudson, then I understand why he hurled the phone. The room and its lack of facilities (no fridge, a joke of a desk) really was just the icing on the cake.
So the following weekend when I met mm at The Clift (part of the same chain - or should I say – group as The Hudson) I didn’t really have high expectations. “Oh well”, we mused, “We don’t spend much time in the room anyhow…”
But this room rocked. This hotel rocked. I arrived to find mm having a cocktail in a dramatic but inviting foyer after my flight was delayed and my luggage lost. After a swift and seamless check in I joined him and got served really fast by a great waitress. We had a few very soothing drinks, then went up to check out the room (which was substabntially cheaper than the Hudson!) and it was huge! Big soft bed, i-pod docking station, full mini-bar, big bathroom, robes. Lovely!
So, a tale of two hotels and two cities. The Hudson – trying too hard to be too edgy, with staff who are equally “too kool for skool” in a city that I actually find the opposite. I love NYC complelety - the service you get in bars and restaurants is normally second to none, the people are generally friendly, and while there is a NY attitude, it’s not rude and arrogant. While at The Clift – possibly one of the coolest places to stay in SF – the whole vibe is warm, inviting and comfortable. And both from the same chain.
How can they be so different? Maybe the Hudson has high enough occupancy rates that it doesn’t need to worry about actually making guests feel welcome. But surely the Morgan Group has a consistent level of service and staff training – indeed – a service style. While each is branded seperately they still are part of the same parent brand, and any great service brand needs an ownable and recognisable service style.
So, next time I’m in NYC I won’t be heading back to the Hudson. It sucked. But I would stay at The Clift again in a heart beat.
(One of the best places I’ve actually ever stayed in NYC was the Pod Hotel but it’s great rates guarantee it very hard to get in – you have to book well in advance. )