It is always difficult for me to write a review that counters many of the other reviews on this website. It’s not that I don’t mind going against popular opinion, but the issues I bring up will genuinely sound petty or illicit the “first-world problems” blather that some people have emailed me with regarding some of the reviews I write. I know there are those who will roll their eyes, but in the end, I think I owe the hard-working staff and leadership of the Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square an unvarnished opinion about our week in their hotel.
To say that this Four Seasons property is beautiful is an understatement of as great a proportion as the history of heft of the building itself. The teams of architects, designers, engineers, archeologists, and restaurateurs that had to get everything right just to open this property is astounding and this review is not about the beauty of the building - as will be evident from my photos of our lovely room. No matter what you are looking for out of your stay in London, this hotel will offer it to you. If you want some time away from home on a long weekend to spending a few weeks or months in a place to do business by day and pleasure at night and on weekends, this place is perfectly situated away from the hustle and bustle of Knightsbridge, but a...It is always difficult for me to write a review that counters many of the other reviews on this website. It’s not that I don’t mind going against popular opinion, but the issues I bring up will genuinely sound petty or illicit the “first-world problems” blather that some people have emailed me with regarding some of the reviews I write. I know there are those who will roll their eyes, but in the end, I think I owe the hard-working staff and leadership of the Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square an unvarnished opinion about our week in their hotel.
To say that this Four Seasons property is beautiful is an understatement of as great a proportion as the history of heft of the building itself. The teams of architects, designers, engineers, archeologists, and restaurateurs that had to get everything right just to open this property is astounding and this review is not about the beauty of the building - as will be evident from my photos of our lovely room. No matter what you are looking for out of your stay in London, this hotel will offer it to you. If you want some time away from home on a long weekend to spending a few weeks or months in a place to do business by day and pleasure at night and on weekends, this place is perfectly situated away from the hustle and bustle of Knightsbridge, but a Circle or District Line Tube will get you there in 15-minutes.
Unfortunately, though, the Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square is an amazing building with amazing people who have either not been properly trained or who have lacked leadership to carry out the requirements of a running a 5-star hotel. I thought a lot about this review because I know just how hard they tried, but whether it is a lack of leadership on the part of management or just the newness of the hotel, something is missing from their toolbox to allow them to excel.
I dislike giving a simple score to a hotel because it is very atypical for everything in a hotel to rate exactly the same score, but that is how the website is set up and I’ll do my best to explain the three of five for the Four Seasons (FS) Ten Trinity Square.
Service is the most important thing no matter where I stay and I have to say that I was optimistic about FS newest property in London. In fact, some of the optimism was because the concierge was in touch with me long before my stay to let me know they were here and ready to provide any help I needed. It was a nice touch, but not so nice was the “upsell” that started on our way from Heathrow to the FS Ten Trinity Square. First I was offered an upgrade to a different suite for a certain amount of money and then another amount of money (less) was offered for an upgrade to a different suite. The whole thing was odd since I am lucky enough to have a credit card that gives me certain things on availability so a quick check of the hotel’s website showed availability for the time I was going to spend at the hotel for the type of suite that I would have been “entitled” to under the agreement the FS has with AMEX.
Haggling over the style of suite that I would use for the week is hardly a big deal, but it should have raised alarms about the kind of style that managers are using at this hotel. In all of my years of not just Four Seasons, but in luxury hotels all over the world, I have never bartered over text and at the front desk about whether or not I wanted a different room. It was bizarre, but chalk it up to a slow week in a hotel with rooms to fill (there was a lot of availability) and a rocky start to a long stay. What followed after that was nothing more than lack of training, attention to detail, care, and outright odd staffing decisions that really lack any rhyme or reason.
Once we were in our room, it was obvious just how hard everybody worked to make this hotel an amazing homage to its history. We are in the Cooper Suite, the suites are named in the hotel, and it is a very nice touch, but one that not everybody in the hotel understands. Strangely, we were asked for our suite number, suite name and one person asked us for our own name because our suite name and number did not go back to a room with anybody in it at all. It was very odd, but the room - as you can see from the photos, is extraordinary.
The service in the room is another story and not a single day passed that did not result in calls and requests to the hotel that would not have been an issue at any hotel I’ve ever stayed at on earth. That is saying something since this is one of the few places where English is not a second language and communication is not the problem. What is a problem is the staffing overlaps in everything from housekeeping (a front desk person helped turn the room down one evening) to multiple people standing around doing very little at the front door (at least it looked like nothing, but they certainly didn’t open the door, nor did they help with packages or even an umbrella from the car to the entrance).
The hotel is very proud of their restaurants and with good reason, they appear to be popular and by all counts they seem to be quite good. Again, though, it is the simple things that matter when it comes to hotels and one thing that cannot be simpler is “classic French toast” and breakfast. The hotel’s room service menu is high-priced, but with our AMEX’s allowance for breakfast each day, we tried room service and it was not very good at all. The classic French toast is not listed as having been “reimagined” or anything crazy and I’ve had French toast all over the world and what arrived was nuts. I thought it was the wrong order, but the doughy in the middle and crème brûlée on-the-top concoction was, in fact, actually the order. It was not so terrible that somebody in the world might not like it, but I cannot imagine calling something classical in style and coming up with what they did.
I can’t fault a bad order, but I can fault the reaction. Room service acted like I requested the reimagined French toast and should have known that their kitchen did not use bread for it. They apologized for my “not knowing” what it was like and said it was the correct order and assuring me that people like their take on the classic version of this very simple dish. You decide from the photo whether or not what arrived was actually the classic French toast or some version created by a new chef who may well be a genius.
The next day we decided to chance the Rotunda where breakfast is also served. THIS is where things went from just bad to absolutely worse - and caused us to go to Starbucks and local restaurants instead of taking breakfast or any other meal in the hotel. First, we requested a look at the buffet and it seemed a bit skimpy - even by European standards of breakfast, but this is London where the full English breakfast is a thing of legend. After taking a bagel and some fruit and fruit flies coming off of them we decided that we should probably take the order from the menu. We were very likely the first people there during the morning and there were fruit flies on everything. We ordered and what we decided on was farm fresh eggs and chicken sausage. It was fine, but the flies put us off and we were not the only people to notice. Service was slow and (strangely) the person who served us some of our breakfast was actually one of the people who was working on the door the day before (not the waiter, the host, for lack of a better title).
Service to our room was something we struggled with almost daily and though the housekeepers were doing their best, their best was never quite right. Whether it was moving things around to me requesting (including to TWO different managers) that the temperature not be increased from 17.5 to 22 degrees every single time the room was serviced. One day our toiletries were moved from where they started their day to the next day when the housekeeper swapped the toothbrushes (one purple and one blue, but not quite enough to notice on first blush) and only the toothbrushes from one glass to the other.
It was odd - I’ve never known housekeepers to move things around to the point of taking things like toothbrushes and things out of dirty glasses and moving them to another glass (not a fresh glass, mind you, but another glass being used by the other person in the same room). There was no reason for it and there was no explanation. The logical thing for the hotel to do was to offer to go get two new toothbrushes so we could have fresh ones, but the next thing to happen was another apology and an offer to send fruit to the room. It was late-evening… toothbrushes would have been a better, more logical, choice.
Then came the electronics. On this I am torn because there have now been three stories told to us about why the phone did not work in the bedroom (the only cordless phone in the room) for four days. We also have competing stories from the engineers to an assistant manager to guest relations about why the television did and did not work on consecutive days (in the living room) and could only be watched in the bedroom for two days using the FS app that links your phone to the televisions. Worse than that was that the living room television could not be paired to the iPhone/iPad so we could not use the app to watch it. Engineers came to our room twice and I was offered a lesson in using the television and the app (something I already had downloaded and used many times at many hotels before), but the app was linked to an LG television and the television behind the mirror in the living room is a Samsung.
The engineers that visited our room told us that the presidential suite was having the same problem with their wireless phone that we were and that the problem was related to IT. The bank holiday made fixing it impossible until Tuesday and on Tuesday we were out a lot of the day, but it left us with one phone (not in the bedroom, where the TV kind of worked) and we’re in quite a large room. First-world problems I know, but the manager and guest reception told us everything was working at the same time and on the same day the hotels engineers told us that not only was the presidential suite having the same issues with phones, but that the hotel’s television service provider was aware of the problem with the app and they were going to fix it “soon.”
There were MANY missed opportunities during our stay. You can almost feel people in the hotel wanting to excel and one bright spot was the spa. I could not make my appointment the day after arriving (I picked something up on the flight and was sniffling and sneezing), but I was fine by the time I rescheduled and they agreed to not charge the typical fee and allow me to get my services. The woman who did my services was lovely and the spa staff could not have been nicer.
The men on the door need leadership. They are extremely polite and they are always polished and look professional. However, to allow a guest that you recognize to stand at the bottom of the stairs in the pouring rain so that you can stay out of it and NOT to carry an umbrella to the car dropping the guest off is really confusing. They are all smiles and it is difficult to get angry about it, but they really just need guidance. Perhaps it’s time for the staff to go to another property to brush up on what it takes to operate a Four Seasons property the right way (I suggest they come to Los Angeles and learn from the folks at the Four Seasons at Beverly Hills - they’d have great weather and would come back refreshed and would be capable of delivering the service that I know is in them.
This stay has not been a disaster, but it has not been a nice one. The response for every problem is not to send more fruit to the room. I know it is a nice gesture and it was lovely of them to remember that we were here for our anniversary, but it was really lackluster. They could have done so much better - and I know they will --- in the future. When they will grow into their new hotel is another question, but that comes down to the general manager - somebody I’ve not met, but tried to talk to with varying degrees of success and I’m still not altogether sure there is one.
The Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square in London is a good hotel, but it is not a great hotel. I know the staff has what it takes to become great at what they do and really turn this hotel into a destination for business and pleasure travelers alike. What I do not know is whether or not they are willing to do what is needed to train their staff and it is a terrible shame (and a waste of a gorgeous setting) for us to leave here less impressed with it than at hotels we went to for meals since eating here was out of the question after day two.More