You can judge a good five-star hotel by its shoe-shine service. This correspondent recalls a stay in London's Grosvenor House a few years ago when a shoe-shine request brought an immediate delivery of a tin of shoe polish to the room. At the other end of the scale is Singapore where your shoes are actively solicited in hotels.
So trying to get shoes polished, particularly at the weekend is a test of five-star service levels. Dubai's Jumeirah management team has been focused on raising UK service levels to global standards since taking over this Knightsbridge shopper's favorite hotel five years ago, and has done an excellent job.
The cult of tipping has gone. Guests have a 'discretionary service charge' included on their bill which can be deducted on request. Thus the concept of uniform service prevails rather than the notion of looking after the big tippers first.
High service standards
And yes it is possible to get your shoes shined, albeit with delivery the next day. There is also a useful 'make room up' and 'privacy' button system on the door which prevents interruptions. And the staff are genuinely helpful and pleased to be of service.
Jumeirah is clearly making real headway in raising UK service standards. The group has a policy of paying above the industry norm salaries and its ambitious expansion policy is very attractive to the career minded. You will find a suitably international mix of staff, and the adoption of global best practice is evident.
Take the superb Rib Room and Oyster Bar on the ground floor. The ambience here is straight out of New York with mahogany interior, spacious seating arrangements and sunlight filtering through the horizontal blinds. There is also the same attentive service both at breakfast and dinner, and the food is mouthwateringly good.
To work off the calories visit the skyline gym and spa on the ninth floor with lovely views down over the Cardogan Square gardens below and across the rooftops of the most expensive real estate in the world. Here the staff is mainly from Eastern Europe, properly qualified in physiotherapy from their home countries.
The Jumeirah Carlton Tower is a home-from-home in the heart of London's famous Knightsbridge district with fine views from most of its handsome range of 220 rooms, including 59 suites and a massive presidential suite. Decor is strictly contemporary with a traditional rather than a modernist twist.
Inevitably the hotel is popular with shoppers, being a stone's throw from Harrods, and around 30% of guests come from the UAE and 20% from the UK with the balance from around the world.
The only problem for guests is likely to be getting a room. Occupancy levels have been running at close to one hundred per cent over the summer, partly due to the crisis in Lebanon but also because the group's 87-room boutique hotel, The Jumeirah Lowndes, around the corner is closed.