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Brown's Hotel - London, England | Hotel Review

Disappointing Stay at Brown's Hotel in London


Rocco Forte's Brown's Hotel: Located in the heart of Mayfair, just minutes from Bond Street and the West End Theaters, is Brown's Hotel, one of Rocco Forte's luxury hotels. Composed of 11 Georgian town houses, Brown's Hotel has 117 bedrooms (including 29 suites).

We have been fans of The Rocco Forte Collection of luxury hotels and after visiting their properties in Brussels (click here to read our luxury hotel review of Hotel Amigo), Florence (click here to read our luxury hotel review of Hotel Savoy), Rome (click here to read our luxury hotel review of Hotel de Russie) and Munich (click here to read our luxury hotel review of The Charles Hotel), we knew we had to check out Brown's Hotel in London, so using their easy to use hotel reservation website, we made our reservations for a short trip to London.

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First Impression/Lobby: We were promptly greeted by the hotel staff when our taxi pulled in front of Brown's Hotel. The bellman quickly retrieved our bags and pointed us towards the front desk. A sharply dressed doorman held the door for us as we entered; a good start at this small luxury hotel in London I thought to myself. That however was short lived.

Located down a narrow hallway from the main entrance, the lobby of Brown's Hotel in London was tiny, unimpressive and not what I was expecting from a luxury hotel group like Rocco Forte. A large, modern, light gray, four-sided couch sat in the middle of the lobby and four side chairs (two on each side) sat plainly along the wall. Two beautiful mirrors hung on the back wall, but each had large flower arrangements that covered half of them so they did nothing to make the space feel larger. Overall, the lobby at Brown's Hotel in London far from impressive.

Reception: Our experience with reception was less just as unimpressive as the lobby. The young lady who checked us in was far from knowledgeable and in three different instances, she had to go to the back office to get answers for our questions (a request for late check out, possibility for an upgrade, which airlines they partner with for frequent flier miles). Why Brown's Hotel (and Rocco Forte for that matter) would have someone that ill prepared at the front desk is beyond my comprehension. Yes, she was nice and pleasant, but knowledgeable? No.

After processing our arrival paperwork (and her various trips to the back office to get assistance) she told us our room wasn't quite ready and that we could wait in the lobby or have a drink in the bar. We opted for a glass of wine and headed off to the bar. About 30 minutes later the front desk clerk came to get us and we were shown to our room, a Junior Suite located on the fourth floor.

The Suite: Entering from the hallway into the junior suite, the white marble bathroom, complete with dual sinks, separate shower and bathtub, toilet and bidet was on the right and a small walk-in closet was on the left. A couple steps further into the room and we were in the seating area comprised of a love seat, coffee table and side chair on the left and inconveniently placed on a dresser to the right, a flat screen TV. Its placement made it just as awkward to watch from the seating area as it was from the bed. A small work desk and stool (not even a chair) separated the bed from the seating area. The bed, flanked by two tall lamps placed strategically on the adjacent nightstands filled the rest of the room. Two large windows allowed plenty of daylight to shine in, but no matter how we looked at it, this luxury hotel room was simply tiny.

After two minutes in the hotel room, I was dumbfounded as to how they could call it a Junior Suite and how they had the audacity to charge what they were charging; we definitely were not getting our money's worth!

As we settled into the room, we decided that Brown's Hotel in London was just not worth the money we were paying and that we would cut our stay short; instead of staying for three nights, we would stay just one night. Later, when we notified the front desk of our decision, we got the surprise of our life.

Our Experience: Before going out for the day, about two hours after actually arriving, we stopped at the front desk to notify them we not staying for the full three nights as originally planned but would be leaving the next day. The front desk clerk told us they would need to charge us for the full stay because we were not canceling 48 hours in advance. We explained we arrived as planned and were spending the night but that we were just checking out early. Again she said she would need to charge us for the full three days. This made no sense to us so we asked to speak to a manager.

A few minutes later, a young man came out and told us that yes since we were leaving early, we would need to pay for all three days. We explained our situation again, we arrived as agreed to and based on their reservation, they could charge us if we didn’t show up, but nothing said about changing our plans and leaving early. At this point, we could not believe we were at a luxury hotel, let alone a Rocco Forte property; how thoroughly disappointing. We then asked to speak to the General Manager; apparently this is the only way we could get this resolved. He said he would call someone and told us to wait.

A short wait later and the Assistant Front of the House Manager came to the lobby. He too said they would charge us if we left early. By this point, we had lost all respect for Brown's Hotel and now, even after many wonderful stays at various Rocco Forte properties, we doubted the corporations core values; so very, very disappointing. Finally, after much back and forth (at times heated) discussion, and us threatening to contact the corporate offices, he told us we could check out the next day without any additional charges or penalties. What a fiasco this was and happening in one of our favorite luxury hotel chains just made it all more disheartening.

And, to show the level of service and incompetence at Brown's Hotel, a full six hours after we arrived (and four hours after notifying them we would be leaving early) received a welcome note from the Rooms Division Manager along with a small plate of sweets to welcome us to Brown's. Typically this is done before you arrive or very shortly thereafter, this confirmed that we had made the right decision to move to another luxury hotel in London (The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Hyde Park).

Housekeeping: Since we only were at Brown's Hotel for one day, I can only report on the condition and cleanliness of the room upon arrival and the turndown service in the evening; both were at a five-star level.

Concierge: Service was good, his recommendations though, not so good. Plus, they don't seem to have the pull at certain restaurants like other luxury hotels in London do. Their rating was above average, but not our top rating.

Restaurant: Upscale dining can be found at Brown's restaurant, The Albemarle which specializes in British classics as well as fish and seafood dishes has both an ala carte menu as well as a set menu that changes daily.

The Donovan Bar is an upscale, stylish bar, perfect for pre-dinner cocktails or after dinner lounging.

The English Tea Room, a must have at any luxury hotel in London, has been awarded 'Top London Afternoon Tea 2009', by The Tea Guild

Pool/Spa/Activities: As with any luxury hotel in London, Brown's Hotel has its own spa, The Spa and a small fitness center. Brown's does not offer a pool, but then again, a pool is not why most people visit London.

Check-Out: Check out was quick and simple, but to my dismay, they actually charged us for our glasses of wine we had while we were waiting for our room. I cannot recall a single luxury or five-star hotel that I have ever visited that charged us for the drinks we had while you were waiting for our room. As some would say, this was just the icing on the cake.

Overall Impression Rocco Forte's Brown's Hotel in London, simply did not measure up to the Rocco Forte standards, or at least to the experiences we've had at their other properties.

The rooms are over-priced and the front desk staff is ill-trained, making for a less than bombastic experience at Rocco Forte's Brown's Hotel in London. Sadly, this experience reflects poorly on all of their properties. I am sure we will visit their other luxury hotels in the future, albeit with a bit concern, but we will definitely not be back to Brown's Hotel in London.

To see other luxury and 5 star London hotels, we have reviewed, follow the links below:
InterContinental Park Lane Hotel London Review
Le Meridien Piccadilly Hotel London Review
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel London Review
The Dorchester Hotel London Review

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