On one of my previous visits to London, I had the privilege to interview the hotel concierge of the Guomon Hotel Charing Cross. They hosted the Travelllll quiz night at their hotel, which gave me the perfect opportunity to ask Head Concierge Tony O’Sullivan some interesting questions:
1. Can you tell us a bit more about the history of rail hotels in London and how this hotel came about?
Railway hotels were the 1st dedicated hotels to be built in London – before there were just coaching ins and lodgings/guesthouses.
It was British Rail that built 6 hotels at train stations as they seen this as an opportunity to make a profit an also the prestige of having these grand Hotels at their stations was an advantage.
These Hotels were the Charing Cross, The Great Western, The Great Northern, The Great Eastern and the Grosvenor at Victoria
2. Which famous personalities have walked in these corridors?
Probably the most famous person we are associated with would be Sir John Betjeman and our main room is named after him. He was a poet/writer and would spend many an afternoon at the hotel having tea getting creative inspiration from the surroundings.
3. Any interesting moments that`s happened here?
Many over the years however most recently we had Vivian Westwood visit the hotel for a fashion show. We were awaiting her arrival at the door and expected her to come in a chauffeured driven car – however she surprised us all by walking her bicycle across the cobblestones of the forecourt and in the Hotel – quite an entrance.
4. Where is your favorite spot in the hotel?
This would have to be what I call the “Archive Hall” situated on the 1st Floor. It houses a collection of old memorabilia from days gone past.
5. What`s the weirdest request you`ve ever had from a guest?
We had an event organizer who required 150 light blue paperclips. We carried out a search of the local stationary stores but could only find assorted boxes. We bought 25 and separated the light blue ones from the rest and attached then to her documents.
Upon receipt of her documents she declared “but they are the wrong shade of light blue!”
6. What`s your favorite part of your job?
Meeting and greet so many different people from around the world. It is always interesting to see how different cultures approach us and carry themselves.
7. If you had to give a London insider tip to a first time visitor which would it be?
The best place to start to hop onto one the Open Top Bus Tours – this enables you to get a quick over view of the town and the areas/attractions that interest you most can be explored later in more detail.
8. If you could stay at any hotel in the world (money being no object), which hotel would you stay at (other than your own hotel chain)?
The first hotel that opens in outer space, however the return transfer world have to be included in the rate!
9. What`s the most memorable words one of your guests said to you as an appreciation of their stay?
Put simply “a home from home” is perhaps the warmest complement we have received.
10. If you had to name me one reason why people should choose this hotel when visiting London, what would it be?
As they say in the property market “location location location” we are one of London`s most central hotels. The quality of our staff for the warm welcome they offer and the professionalism they show.
Thanks Tony for this interview. I hope to be back one day to stay at your hotel.
* Photo Credit: from hotel photo gallery