Luxury Hotels

Hans, in London, shows a luxury hotel’s restaurant CAN work

Iconic Luxury Hotels, headed by executive director Andrew Stembridge, took over management of 11 Cadogan Gardens, a hidden treasure of a hotel in Chelsea, minutes’ walk from Sloane Square and Peter Jones, in 2017.

As is typical in Belgravia, Cadogan Gardens has a parallel rear street, Pavilion Road, originally for carriage stores and later for car garages.  Pavilion Road has become a cornucopia of such brands as top florist Moyses Stevens.  11 Cadogan Gardens, the hotel, had, at its rear, a small courtyard and then Pavilion Road-fronting garages used for storage. A significant spend, with design by the hotel’s owners, London&Regional, L&R, and Goddard Littlefair, turned this into a locals’ venue, Hans Bar & Grill, named for Irish traveller-collector Hans Sloane, 1660-1753. The photo above shows Andrew Stembridge in Hans Bar & Grill.

Three separate areas offer, in all, 100 seats (the 35 staff also service Chelsea Bar, and Drawing Room afternoon teas) . Even at lunchtime Hans is full, with high-spending locals. There are sandwiches, burgers, bowls and chargrills, home-made icecreams, Veuve Clicquot galore, and the hot chocolate that Sloane introduced from Jamaica. Hans has become a local icon, and it has increased patrons’ awareness of the hotel.

The all-England Iconic Luxury Hotels had a slow start. Chewton Glen Hampshire was bought in 2006 by seasoned hotel owner, London&Regional (L&R), who continue to own nearly a hundred properties, from the USA east to Russia, but they were  not operators.   In 2012, L&R took a lease to manage Cliveden, on the River Thames, and L&R Managing Partner Ian Livingstone asked Andrew Stembridge if he could manage both hotels. He liked the ring of the Iconic Luxury Hotels name and, miraculously, they managed to get it.

It was, however, another two years before the name really became operative, by which time the collection also included L&R-owned The Lygon Arms, in The Cotswolds, and management of  The Cadogan Estate’s 11 Cadogan Gardens. Iconic Luxury Hotels is today a 263-key company. This September, it opens the L&R-owned 170-key Mayfair Townhouse, directly across Piccadilly from The Ritz. Mayfair Townhouse is deliberately named, to attract search engine enquiries: unlike three of the other Iconic Luxury Hotels properties, it is not being put into any consortia (and although L&R, on the real estate side, has close connections with Accor, Four Seasons, Hilton, IHG and Nobu Hotels, its Iconic properties are brand-free).

Across its portfolio, Iconic Luxury Hotels’ average stays are just under two nights, with roughly 40% repeats. It has no loyalty programme.  Andrew Stembridge wants not only loyal guests but loyal staff, and that means finding them: there is a total headcount of about 760, with company-wide staff turnover of 30%. Stembridge feels strongly about getting the word out about the potential, and passion, of the hotel industry, and he spends as much time as possible talking to schools, getting to students in their early teens. He also works with other L&R-owned hotels, which means his employees can, say, do work experience at Nobu Ibiza..