How do you choose a hotel when you travel?
Well, I travel both for business and for pleasure. I like to make both experiences as pleasurable as possible. Especially with business travel, I tend to be settled in one place for at least a few days at a time, so I prefer to stay in boutique hotels – similar to ourselves. I enjoy the personal touches in a boutique property, and it’s inspiring to see what these unique hotels are doing to impress their guests.
Location is a key factor in my decision making process – so I try to find somewhere personable and conveniently located for driving or transport links. But it is essential that I can get a good night’s sleep, so I want quieter locations where possible.
And then I’m influenced, like everyone else by word of mouth and reviews I’ve read.
If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at?
I have stayed in some amazing places but the three hotels really stand out in my mind as extra special are The Armani Hotel in Milan, the Ritz Carlton Almaty and the Dunmore Hotel on Harbor Island in the Bahamas.
What made them so special?
Each of these hotels are perfectly located. I did much of my growing up in the Swiss mountains, so I’m slightly biased towards the mountainous scenery of the Ritz Carlton Almaty! What is really special about this hotel is it does so much to bring the Kazakh culture inside, it creates an authentic sense of occasion and location and of course, as you’d expect, the staff have been trained to offer a really exceptional level of service.
The Armani Hotel in Milan is so exciting, it’s in the most fabulous, central location, I love its nod to technology, the décor is simple yet sublime and the food was too good! The attention from the staff is possibly some of the best I’ve seen in the world.
And as for the Dunmore Hotel on Harbor Island in the Bahamas – it is faultless. Its unique location is breathtaking, but it doesn’t just rely on its geography, its offers excellent service to match. I’d go back there in a heartbeat.
If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?
LOL I do! (editor’s note: Laugh Out Loud)
Essentially, we’re selling sleep, so the most important thing we offer is an incredible bed, ours are handmade Swedish Hästens massage beds. We constantly hear our guests tell us that our beds are the best they have ever slept in; they’ve even been known to cure bad backs. We’re selling sleep – so we’re driven to offer the very best.
A second thing I think is essential is a tailored service. We have developed a very sleek hotel App which is available to download onto a smart phone and it is ready loaded on to the in-room iPad. Clients can do everything through the app, from ordering a 3D Movie from the comfort of their own bed to requesting a cocktail to be delivered at precisely 21:05, from the back seat of a taxi. And then equally, some clients prefer to pick up the phone or pop down to reception to chat, some like lots of conversation. We’re a small boutique so we very quickly get to know all of our guests and we pride ourselves on being able to personally tailor ourselves to the kind of service they prefer.
And lastly, technology. Some might think it’s ironic that I mentioned this last, as Eccleston Square Hotel is known for being one of the most technologically advanced hotels in Europe. But the thing is, we were driven to offer our guests the best in everything, and technology naturally fell into that remit. The air in our rooms is filtered fresh air, not recycled from other rooms, so it’s actually fresher indoors than it is outdoors and yet we’re in a central London setting. This is the sort of technology our guests can’t see. But then it’s lovely to be able to offer our huge 103” 3D movie screen to guests for watching films or sport. And guests love the iPads and vibrating beds in the rooms, we get hundreds of comments about the bathroom’s SmartGlass walls, which click from opaque to transparent at the flick of a switch. It’s a joy to offer great products and services.
Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…
The first thing I tend to notice about a hotel when I first walk in (besides its smell) is whether or not there is a friendly team waiting to help me. Like with the Armani Hotel I mentioned before, I loved the friendly service their staff gave me. It has stayed with me years after the visit.
I also love to see great modern amenities in the room. At Eccleston Square Hotel, we think everything should be at the very least better than what guests have at home, so we ensure that our shower products (L’Occitane) are really beautiful, and that guests have great coffee, literally on tap for example. The third thing I’ve loved in hotels I’ve stayed in before is the food. From the Italian food in the Armani Hotel to the Kazakh cuisine in the Almity, it’s the food that has given me a real sense of location and helped to cement a unique experience.
Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.
Ok, I don’t think it’s fair to say which hotels these were, but I can categorically say that staff that don’t care, a really noisy bedroom and bed bugs are three of the worst things I have personally experienced in other hotels. I’ll keep quiet on which brands J
How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?
This is the first time I have heard of such a concept but sounds like an innovative way of creating a boutique hotel! And innovation in the hotel industry is definitely a good thing!
Where are you off to next?
I’ve just come back from a work trip to Dubai and Mauritius, next I’m off to Paris and Zurich!
Aged just 23, Olivia was one of the UK’s youngest ever directors to open and run a London hotel and to this day, she directs all of the hotel’s Human Resources, Sales and Marketing operations.
Parisian born Olivia Byrne grew up in Switzerland and was educated at Institut Le Rosey before going on to study at L’Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, one of the best hospitality management schools in the world. The daughter of a hotel owner in Paris, Olivia always knew that she wanted to work in hotels and went on to enjoy internships at some of the most fabulous establishments in the world, including Hotel Hermitage Monaco and Joël Robuchon, Monaco, a two-star Michelin restaurant.
After graduating, Olivia took an active part of the re-construction, refurbishment and redesign of the stunning Grade ll listed building and opened the technologically advanced luxury boutique hotel in July 2011.
Since opening, Olivia and Eccleston Square Hotel has won multiple awards for its advanced technology and it has received constant high praise in the national and international trade, lifestyle and travel press. Olivia runs Eccleston Square Hotel with her younger brother James, they are both bilingual in French and English and live in London’s SW1.