The Hari, in London’s Belgravia area, is a unique 75-room luxury hotel that reminds the gal of a ‘secret place’. Once you know it is there, you love it, and go back again and again.
This is an hotel, owned by the Harilela family, that is absolutely part of the local community – they love its all-day Italian restaurant, Il Pampero; they love going up 17 steps from the ground floor to the mezzanine nook that is a coffee bar cum bar, with an outside terrace. This hotel is a haven that has lots of living greenery, outside, and inside (think living walls, and plants in bedrooms, including, in my case when I was last there, a fledgling hazelnut tree from a sustainability-linked initiative, www.tree2mydoor.com
Once the virus headed for London and England, GM Andrew Coney started thinking. Once the last guest left on 25th March 2020, the hotel was ready. It had four tokyobikes, sourced from that company’s London workshop, and The Hari posted messages telling Londoners that the hotel would deliver – whatever.
“At first”, says Andrew Coney, “the most common requests were along the lines of can you get me bathroom supplies? and as we had plenty in our own store cupboards we were able, and happy, to oblige”. Now requests have moved on, to picking up of prescriptions, and general groceries.
Andrew Coney, above, joins his team members in pedaling around, delivering up to a mile away from the hotel (“trying to deliver a whole baguette is tricky when steering a bike”, he admits). If payment has not already been made to the store, the hotel uses its own card machine, placing the machine on the customer’s doorstep to have the pin input.
And when he is cycling around, doubtless Andrew Coney – who also calls himself Chief Mischief Maker – is dreaming how he will decorate his hotel for next year’s Chelsea Flower Show, in May 2021 (at the last one, in 2019, the whole of the hotel’s Chesham Place facet was covered in fresh blooms, to a height of more than two metres). He gets inspiration, too, from his all-time favourite movie, the 1959 film North By Northwest, in which Alfred Hitchcock directed Cary Grant, James Mason and Eva Marie Saint – because of mistaken identity, an innocent man is pursued across the USA by agents of a mysterious organization trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to smuggle microfilm containing government secrets. www.thehari.com