Fitness & Spas Food & Wine Lifestyle Luxury Hotels Travel

How a luxury hotel makes a traveller immediately welcome

Fruits, on arrival

Fruits, on arrival

How to make a traveller feel really at home after what could be a really exhausting day?  Some luxury hotels do have the secret, and Mandarin Oriental Boston achieved ten out of ten on this occasion. The gal had flown from London to New York, gone through immigration (always a nerve-racking occasion if you are not American) and spent three hours in the excellent American Airlines lounge at JFK, and 39 minutes in an (excellent but packed) American Airlines plane to Boston. It was then a short limo ride to the hotel and in the room awaited – all her favourite fruit!

A perfect room service burger

A perfect room service burger

How did they know?  We have our ways, with a smile.  Yes, it should be possible, for all travellers at luxury level, at all times, but it hardly ever works.  Welcoming people in the right way creates lasting memories. My friend Tiffany Dowd arrived after an all-night flight at Park Hyatt Zurich last week to find a cupcake marked ‘breakfast for Tiffany’. Brilliant. Anyway, because of my long day today I needed total US immersion, and what better than a burger?  And it was – brilliant. I ordered, rushed to the gym and arrived just before the order. This burger was wagyu, marvellously rare as requested, mushrooms as requested, and went so well with a 2011 Zinfandel, Saldo by Orin Swift’s The Prisoner Wine Company.

Suite 821's bathtub…

Suite 821’s bathtub…

And then the unwinding began in earnest.  The bathtub in 821, the hotel’s Oriental Suite, has Jacuzzi jets. You lie and soak and face a Hollywood-mirror end wall with inset television. They have provided Diptyque bathsalts and, what a lovely idea, a proper and firm back brush. Soak and scrub while watching Downton Abbey or, for true masochism, Piers Morgan or Richard Quest (why are so many of CNN’s male front-liners so unattractive? Wolf Blitzer, now he has grown a beard and let his hair go bushy, is another who would never get an on-screen job were he female).

..and its bed

..and its bed

Finally, time for bed. This suite has so much going for it.  I can find everything, easily. The bed is in this attractive Japanese-look four-post frame (or is it Italian?). In the morning I shall be able to look out, straight across Boylston Street, at Crate & Barrel, and the Apple store is only one block west. Even without going outside I can get into the Prudential Center’s 50-plus shops, and I could, if necessary, access Back Bay station, for the train to New York, all without having to brave the elements.  But what happened, in fact, is that my life temporarily changed.

Come back after a run, and the spa beckons

Come back after a run, and the spa beckons

I had thought about going to the hotel spa, to try its new Aromatherapy Associates’ Rose Infinity line, but instead I spent at least two hours dissecting the suite. Why, you may rightly ask.  In the middle of a power breakfast, surrounded by scions of Boston Life, I realised my wedding ring was missing.  Was it back in London, or on the plane across the Atlantic, or the second plane coming up the East Coast, or even here?  I took the bed to pieces, looked under all the furniture, emptied the trash several times, completely spring-cleaned my handbag. Nothing. The hotel was marvellous. Security would check in the moment I checked out.

Alain Negueloua

Alain Negueloua

Several hours later, and after added degrees of despondency, I got a call from the boss of this luxury hotel, Alain Negueloua. Security had gone in – and there was my ring, right in the middle of the dressing table.  I never use a dressing table, but why hadn’t I seen it?  I rushed back to Mandarin Oriental Boston, and he was waiting, with the ring in a fan-top box.  Please put it back on my finger, I asked.  I think I looked rather like the Cheshire cat who had found the cream, full-fat version, of course.