Overview: A promising hotel, trying hard, but still working out the kinks
Strengths: Room interiors are very strong, staff tried hard
Drawbacks: Few rooms have views, limited dining menus
Notable: A few avoidable service snafus during my “soft open” stay
A recent business trip brought me to London for a week of meetings. Having followed the development of the new Four Seasons Ten Trinity hotel in London for some time, I decided to make this new property my residence for the week. The property opened earlier this year but, unbeknownst to me, it was still in the “soft open” period. Most aspects of my stay were fine, but there were still a few kinks being worked out, and not all of the facilities were yet available.
Before departing New York, I tried to check in using the Four Seasons app. Typically, this works great and they simply give you your key when you arrive. I was emailed by the hotel after I tried to check in asking for credit card and passport. I emailed images back to them.
I contacted the hotel in advance of my arrival via the Four Seasons Elite desk in Toronto to arrange arrival transportation. The hotel offered an E-class or S-class Mercedes to pick me up. I selected the E-class, but was greeted by a Jaguar XJ Autograph. It was odd to be so specific on the booking, then send a different vehicle. (They didn’t say “or similar” in the descriptions of the vehicles when they offered.) The car was brand new and had but a few hundred miles on it. The in-car Wifi was fast. Perhaps 15 years ago, my main vehicle was a Jaguar XJ8 – and I enjoyed riding in the latest incarnation.
Arrival and Lobby
As we arrived at the hotel, I was greeted by name by the doorman and a manager on duty. Unfortunately, they again asked for my credit card and passport and it took a couple of minutes to complete the check-in formalities. They certainly would have had no problem billing the credit card I guaranteed the room to if I didn’t show, making it a bit frustrating to have to provide the information for now a third time (once at booking, once through online check in and now upon arrival).
The building itself is the former customs house, and is a grand building from a by-gone time. It has a very strong exterior and the interior centerpiece is a large, domed rotunda with a bar and lounge in it.
While not to the level of the Four Seasons George V in Paris, there were some lovely flowers in the lobby.
It was only about 11am, but thankfully my room was ready and I was escorted by the manager. The hotel is shaped roughly as a rectangle around a center open shaft. Due to part of the hotel still not being open, we had to walk the long way (three quarters of the way) around the floor my room was on to get to my room. It was a 2 minute walk to get from the lift to my room, though that time will come down when the property is fully open. While 2 minutes isn’t a lot, typically room to lift is a 15-30 second walk, so this felt disproportionately long.
The lift lobbies and corridors were nice and certainly new, but not well adorned. It wasn’t clear if there would be additional art or furnishings added.
I booked a Premier Room during a “guaranteed upgrade at booking” program and was moved to an Executive Room. There was no further upgrade offered upon arrival. The welcome note (below) mentions an upgrade if available upon arrival; either they feel they met the obligation with the upgrade at booking or perhaps they don’t upgrade above Executive. Either way, the room was more than fine and met my needs.
The interior of the room was gorgeous. The room featured high (10+ foot) ceilings and was quite spacious. At roughly 600 square feet, this room was bigger than entry-level suites at many London hotels.
The minibar was well stocked. I appreciate their offer of half bottles of wine.
A welcome gift was waiting for me. It and the fruit were freshened several times during my stay.
A note laid out the FSPP benefits included with my stay. As a FS Elite guest, I was advised the fast internet, not just basic, would be included for me. My devices connected without issue and the speed was very fast. That said, the gradation of having two different speeds of internet still seems too detailed for me. At five-star prices, fast internet should just be included.
The bathroom had a layout that reminded me of some Peninsula hotels. The room was warm and the water pressure was great.
To get to the bathroom, you walked through the closet area, similar to my suite at the Four Seasons Washington DC.
A drawback is the room faces the central open shaft in the middle of the building. The website calls it an “atrium,” but “large interior air shaft” would have also been a suitable description. Not much natural light made it into the room.
Looking at the three lower room categories at the hotel on their website, they all have much lighter color tones but all face out to the street. While they won’t have expansive views (the building is surrounded on three sides by other buildings), I suspect they’d have more natural light. The three lower room categories, even Premier, are a fair bit smaller than the Executive Room. When you re-fit a building with a hotel, trade offs must be made. They shifted the corridor towards the outside of the building, making larger but darker rooms on the inside and smaller but lighter rooms on the exterior.
When you walk back from your room to the lobby, the lifts deliver you right to a server station in the Rotunda room. This was not the best setup.
Food and Beverage
Dining was a definite strength of the hotel. Their “fancy” restaurant is Le Dame de Pic. The chef (who doesn’t actually work here or cook here) is Anne-Sophie Pic, the only female chef currently with three Michelin stars. The stars are for her restaurant in southeast France, not here, of course. I ate breakfast here twice and both were very good. The room was very appealing and the service was flawless. Breakfast was included with my FSPP booking, though the gratuities did appear on my room bill. I did not eat dinner in Le Dame de Pic, but the menu looked very good (and high end).
The Rotunda lounge serves a more casual dinner, and I ate here on the night of my arrival. The food was good – but the range of menu options was quite limited. I recall prior stays at the Mandarin in London where in their casual restaurant, they had dozens upon dozens of options from around the world. Here I think I had six or eight items to select from. Hopefully this was due to the soft open and they will expand this menu. They also offered the Le Dame de Pic menu in the Rotunda, but those dishes weren’t the comfortable food I was seeking.
I had several people meet me for drinks at the hotel. They were locals and had not known the property was yet open. This was also evident at breakfast, where the restaurant and rotunda were very quiet. Frankly, at many high-end hotels in Mayfair, even as a guest of the hotel, it can be tough to get a table for breakfast. I suspect City-workers will soon take greater advantage of this property.
I ordered breakfast via room service several mornings (including once ordering via the Four Seasons app). The food was very good and delivered exactly on time each morning.
Gym and Spa
The spa was not yet open. Though the website says this at present, when I booked, the site did not say the spa was not open. Looking today, the website lists an opening day a few weeks later than they told me the opening day would be when I was at the property. I was hoping to go for a steam after a run, but no such luck this time. The photos on the website do look quite nice. Sadly, there won’t be a swimming pool.
The gym was open (and I went here in lieu of running on rainy mornings). It was very well equipped and large for a hotel gym. The gym was unattended.
Other Parts of the Hotel
Poking around in the hotel, there was a wood-paneled lounge area off of the lift on my room level. I was not able to get a photo. Perhaps this will be the private club also being billed at the hotel.
Above the main lobby, there was also a sitting area. Perhaps this will be a huddle area for some meeting rooms nearby?
There were a few avoidable service lapses during my stay.
- I asked the concierge for an Indian restaurant recommendation. He gave me a map and pinpointed just where to go and warned I might have a ten or 20 minute wait. I took a cab up to the location – perhaps a ten minute ride – to find the restaurant had a one and a half hour wait. That was very different than what I was told to expect. There were a few other Indian and south Asian restaurants near by, but they each also suggested waits of 45 minutes or more. Clearly popular choices – and the food looked very good – but not what I signed up for. I walked back to the hotel (30 minutes) and asked the concierge for a different venue where he could confirm a table. I went to the bar for a drink (which the concierge covered) and he arranged a table at a locals place near the god-awful Guoman Tower Hotel. The restaurant (not affiliated with that hotel) was quite good and was clearly frequented by local Indian families. Everything was delicious. Lesson here: The concierge should know which restaurants average super-long wait times.
- The Four Seasons app lets you arrange cleaning service times. This is great – it makes things easy for the guest and gives valuable schedule information to housekeeping. The app typically limits you to scheduling a service no less than 30 minutes in the future (i.e.: you can’t request housekeeping in 5 minutes from the time of your request). Several times, I’d sign up for service in an hour or so while I was showering or running, etc., only to find a note slipped under my door (in advance of the time I requested the service for) saying they came but did not service my room due to the Do Not Disturb light being on. This then begged the question, did they come in response to my request, or was this just the housekeeper walking down the corridor from room to room, seeing my DND, and slipping the note while my app request was still pending. To make sure service didn’t slip through the cracks, I then had to call back down to housekeeping to re-affirm my appointment. It was never clear which situation was happening. This put the onus back on me to re-firm by service request – not the way it should be. Mindful that this will happen periodically, having a tick-box on the notes slipped under the door indicating “this visit was in response to your request” would be helpful to avoid this confusion in the future.
- Several times while coming and going (during the day), the front door of the hotel was unattended. While this didn’t create a hardship, it is odd to find the door unattended at a hotel seeking to be at the five-star level. This compares to the Four Seasons Park Lane (London) where there were typically no fewer than three doormen on duty during the day. It would behoove the hotel to over-staff their door, not under-staff.
- A few days after I pro-actively contacted the concierge to book my transportation from the airport (which was confirmed promptly), I received an email from the concierge desk inquiring if I needed transportation from the airport. Indeed I did and had already booked it. Not wanting to be without a car, the email to me forced me to follow up to re-confirm that my original booking was made. Indeed it had been. Again, not unlike the housekeeping situation, this put onus back on the guest. I appreciate their pro-activeness, but they should check the blotter of bookings before offering the same service already organized.
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The hotel is directly across the street from the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. I had a few extra minutes one day and took some photos of the area.
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Overall, this will be a strong property. Most of my business is near Mayfair, so I don’t anticipate returning often, as the location is less convenient for me. If my business did take me to this part of London, however, I would definitely consider returning to this property.
The lapses I noted are squarely in the “high-class problem” category; they’re not fundamental to the property and can be easily remedied. Finally, there was a bit of a strange feel being at such a large property with so few guests (due to the soft open). Spooky isn’t the right word, but it was something like that. Once fully in use, I’m sure that feel will pass.
Four Seasons London Ten Trinity
Ten Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ, England
+44 20 3297 9200