Monday, 25 April 2011

Rafayel – Hotel with a heart and soul

Aristotle said Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

We at Hotel Rafayel believe that.  A fledgling establishment we might be, but the engine propelling Rafayel’s rising star is its ability to accept praise and criticism in equal measure.  According to Steve Ross, you can't operate a company by fear, because the way to eliminate fear is to avoid criticism. And the way to avoid criticism is to do nothing. 

To do nothing is to be nothing, and Rafayel is not of that caliber.  Growth is only possible if you face your critics bravely, take the best out of them, rather than hide behind silence and expect the worst to go away.   

Some of the best reviews and worst critiques that Rafayel has faced and tackled head-on:

“My Second Home…
As someone who has spent over a thousand nights in various London hotels over the last decade, what tends to matter to me most (after the four basic C's of cleanliness, comfort, cost, and convenience) is familiarity and favour. I found it annoying after spending hundreds of nights and tens of thousands of pounds in one chained establishment, to be left with the feeling that my custom was no better to them than a once-in-a-lifetime visitor! Not so at the Rafayel. I've stayed here about fifty times over the last six months and it just gets better and better every time! They give me the same room and price everytime whereas try booking regularly with the chained hotels and price and room allocation becomes a lottery. The Rafayel folk make it their business to get to know me well (not intrusively) and they know what I like and don't like - they even know to remove crisps and chocolate from the minibar before I get there…

Four things make this place outstanding for me: one is that the decour throughout is stunning and imaginative; another is the unique gadetry at your disposal and excellent facilities including the gym; another is its ecological credentials; but above everything else is its people - they are exceptional…

“This is not Five Star…”
This is a longer story of bad service, however I will only mention the most significant details.
Arrival by car is slightly tricky as the access isn't clearly signed but eventually we got there. They will park the car for you as described however the location where the car will be parked is according to the lady at the reception 'a secret'.
When we arrived at our room we could clearly hear voices from the inside and it appeared that the porter (who didn't speak much English) accomodated another couple in there although their key card didn't work but luckily he had a master key. In order to rectify this we kindly received an upgrade. I am still not sure if this was lucky. The room was much bigger but the bed sheet and covers were stained and dirty. Complained on the way out and had fresh sheets at night.
Once returned I tried to switch off the air con but without success due to missing instructions. I called the reception who was switching the air con off from their desk as you cannot do this from the room (good job I didn't change my mind every 5 minutes....).What is the difference between a 5 star hotel and this '5 star' hotel - the hotel itself. Who ever owns and manages this place seems to think that shiny objects and random gadgets will do the job but a visit to real hotel in this category would have taught them different.
This isn't a bad hotel as such but not within the category they want to be in. The staff is average to incompetent as everything else isn't great either.
Never again!

Dear Guest, we thank you for your comment. However we do not agree with some of the judgments it presents though we respect your opinion.

We are very sorry for what you have considered substandard, received during your stay with us and would like to assure you that we have investigated the matter thoroughly within minutes of reading your review. We would like to once again apologise for the failure of our property management system followed by a human error by a trainee member of staff. We have found the cause of the above and would like to assure you that appropriate measures have been implemented in order to avoid re-occurrence. At this point we need to stress that our immediate reaction to our mistake which we accept was an upgrade for you to one of our 400 square feet room with a King size bed, 42 inch main TV and a state of art bathroom featuring comfort such as a bathtub TV. VDA, one of the world's leading companies in the development of innovative building energy management system is a designer of our Micromaster in-room climate control which is considered as one of the most user friendly in the trade, where a guest is in s total control of the in-room climate. Besides Rafayel on the Left Bank standard features such as media hub, I-pod docking stations, free WIFI, free internet on the television, free game station hire including newest Nintendo WII and PS3 as well as pre-loaded selection of the newest blockbuster films our guest enjoy the cutting edge VDA comfort features where lighting selection and brightness, temperature of the room, speed of fan in the air conditioning unit and volume of music played through ceiling speakers can be controlled on the television by simply using buttons on the remote control. We are sorry that you have not explored these features, but correctly stated we are also able to make any required changes from the main desk once informed of the preferred over the telephone.

Valet car park at the Rafayel on the Left Bank for which we charge an equivalent of 0.60 pence per hour is a CCTV monitored, locked from the general public underground area and as we take security of guests' vehicles very seriously only authorized members of staff have the accessibility to the car park. As transparent and flexible as we are, security and wellbeing of our guests property is our top priority and for this reason we are unable to allow our guests to visit the underground car park on their own. We are more than happy to accommodate cars in spaces outside the underground car park or on request allow guests to drive their vehicles themselves to our underground car park, only if accompanied by a member of staff.

What really breaks our hearts here at the Rafayel is the fact that you have refused to be assisted by our management team who were aware of the issue which occurred the evening before when they met you at the reception desk during your check out. We really have a lot to offer from our River Wellbeing SPA with free facilities including GYM, Jacuzzi, Sauna, Steam-room and at the present moment 50% off all treatments, through Banyan on Thames restaurant in which all our guests are also treated with a 50% food discount and Jazz weekends in our Nirvana Lounge overlooking the Thames with some of the best musicians in the industry, we would be thrilled to have the opportunity to amaze you while experiencing the genuine Rafayel on the Left Bank in the future.

“The best service in London…”
We stayed in the Rafayel for one night only. The room was absolutely lovely, huge bed, sofa, space, tea and coffee. The bathroom had a walk in shower, together with bath, tv, hand basins. We were worried about noise because of the helipad, but the rooms were soundproofed and we did not hear a thing. In fact we stood by the Thames watching the helicopters taking off.

We ate in the restaurant by the Thames and were amazed to be given 50% off food. The member of staff who served us could not have given us better service anywhere in London. The staff at reception were very helpful. There is a shuttle to Clapham station and our driver was a delight and actually took us to our destination in Clapham. We only had to telephone the hotel to arrange to be collected from Clapham and taken back to the hotel. Our car was taken away to be parked on our arrival and was returned to us promptly on our departure.

The car parking is also the cheapest in London for a hotel. We shall certainly return for a longer break.

“Overpriced and overrated would not stay again…”
We arrived for one night as we were going to the 02 for a concert. I saw a fab review of this hotel in a daily paper and thought i coulnt go wrong I was. On arrival at 3.30pm we were told our rooom was not ready even though check in was at 2pm. On our arrival several staff were all sat down on the floor outside smoking not good for the first impressions. I had booked a delux superior double room and what a huge let down i felt at the sight of this yes it had a brilliant view over the Thames but if you look at the rooms they have been finished off badly. The location of this hotel is not good if you are looking to visit central london and i must say the staff were not the most friendliest i have come accross. All in all for the cost of this room i would not stay here again I know as I am a frequent traveller to London that I have stayed in much nicer hotels in central london at a fraction of the cost of this hotel

Dear Guest, thank you for your review. It is these kinds of critical reviews that are so imperative for us to respond to because we see inherent contradictions in them. In this open world of communication, transparency and honesty is of the utmost importance.

Your comments in our opinion have been very inequitable and needlessly critical. The room category you stayed in are the Thames Rooms. They are titled for a reason – they are on the river, like yacht rooms, and the guest is able to experience that wonderful feeling of being on a river cruise. The hotel is developed by persons of great repute who built the 'Nova Park Hotel' in Paris in 1981. Thames Rooms are specifically decorated and designed the “yacht room” way, which has been lauded by top designers of the world. On your comments on the room design; please go to these links: Reputed Hoosta magazine terms this very views as 10-most-beautiful-hotel-views. World class architectural hotel magazine Sleeper designer magazine of March/April 2010 has a full devoted section on great design features, GS MAGAZINE of WINTER2010 of great Architectural repute from USA has a full four page article on this novel design. Philips/Voltimum world leading low electrical consumption solutions rate London's-Rafayel 5 star hotel sets new standards high on luxury but low on environmental impact using Philips green solutions. On your disparagement on the design and furnishing of the room, this depends on individual taste. Perhaps it did not meet your sense of aesthetics, but there are others who have greatly appreciated the high quality finish of the rooms. Most consider our lobby areas stunningly beautiful and classy, while some find them cluttered. It is all about one’s individual liking.

The Thames Rooms are our prime rooms (7 of them), which earn a 99.7% positive rating, for which you claim to have paid a very high price. First of all, you will not get any room in London that is a mere 4.5 metres away from the river bank – that is as close as you can get, and we can challenge anyone who says otherwise. Most of our customers, and even the harshest of critics, acknowledge that you would not find such good value for a room like that in London or may get one at double the rates. The price you paid was a mere £155 (inclusive of 20% VAT, 22% of third party booking commissions, cost of 80 employees that run the hotel, and cost of 3 vehicles for our complimentary shuttle services for pick-up and drop-off), not to overlook the fact that nowhere in London will you find such room sizes – 320-400 sq.ft. with floor-to-ceiling windows offering a brilliant view of the Thames, which you did acknowledge. It is therefore impossible to comprehend how our prices cannot be deemed as excellent value for money more so when you consider the free WiFi, hi-def IPTV protocols we offer, free gym use, 50% discounts on food and spa services and no hidden charges of any kind, with 24 hour car parking services for 15 pounds only?

Your undeserved criticism pierces the very heart of our business strategy like a rapier and is one we vociferously refute. Sad truth it may be, but people find negative reviews like yours helpful while glowing reviews are disregarded. That notwithstanding, we take criticism very seriously and strive to improve the quality of our establishment and services – guest interaction, variety in our fusion cuisine, additional amenities – all at an all-inclusive cost for our guests. Between survival and non-survival lies the question of value, which we take exception to if unfairly censured for it because it hits the very core of our strategy. Our efforts are reflected in the 3,000+ reviews we have earned (hotel, restaurant and spa) in a short span of 11 months.

As far as transport connectivity is concerned, everyone makes a conscious decision when they choose Battersea. We make it very clear that we are not located on Bond Street or Sloane Square. This is the reason why we offer free shuttle service to the tube station that operates every half hour in an effort to facilitate our guest’s convenience and economical needs. We cannot be blamed or held accountable for our guest’s impatience when they opt to take black cabs and forego our complimentary service. We are the most aware on the drawback of location and the fact that we are not next to the tube station, but a 15 minute walk can take you to King’s Road, while bus stop #170 is right outside the hotel. We are not located 500 miles away but are just across Chelsea Harbour. So to condemn us for our location is completely unfair when you have made an informed decision to stay at Rafayel in Battersea.

When you arrived, the day was warm and sunny. We have public benches all around the river bank. During their breaks, some of our employees do go out for a smoke in public areas that surrounds the river bank, because our hotel has a strictly non-smoking policy. We have CCTV cameras to show who went out on a cigarette-break, and know for a fact that it was in council-controlled public areas, behind the plants on the bank of the quay completely outside the hotel premises, the view is clear from 121 windows, we cannot 'legislate' their free time in a perfectly public area but in full view of our windows that offer an expansive view of these public areas. Even then we have gently asked them to refrain from smoking within sight insofar as possible.

We thank you for your review. You certainly have the right to complain but we are not in a position not to respond to such stinging criticism which we find very unfair. We are very proud of our honesty and transparency that shows a lot for what we stand for. We are sorry we are not able to agree with you on the inconvenience of the location, a fact you are aware of when choosing Rafayel, or remark on the quality of the room, something that is a matter of taste, and above all, for attacking us on the “affordable” luxury one enjoys at the Rafayel and thereby our excellent value-for-money experience.
By the way this was our motto this month ''We are not perfect though we like to be perfect; and we try hard to achieve perfection.

“Fantastic staff and room…”
I've spend the first night of my honeymoon there, and the hotel gave us an upgrade. The room was fantastic, extremely beautiful, comfortable and big.
The staff was superb. They even let us keep some luggage there after our stay!

Definately recommend it. It's a great value for money, and very good!

“Fantastic in every way, just perfect…”
In my life I have been lucky enough to go to about 150 - 200 hotels at the age of 20. Naturally I've become a bit fussy! I booked hotel Rafayel for my partner and I for Valentines day (it was actually a few days after).

I called the hotel and spoke to Kuman on reception, who had all the time in the world to help me. She listened to the most pedantic requests of mine and dealt with every single one. She helped me get the best possible price and I stayed in the Niles suite.

Upon arrival at the station, the hotel sent their shuttle car, but as a nice surprise they sent the VIP one which was gorgeous. The driver even took me to a party place to inflate my balloon, then went back to the station to pick up my partner (for whom it was all a surprise). I arrived in the gorgeous, modern reception where I met Kuman, and was then taken to the Niles suite by the friendly concierge. Now this room is INCREDIBLE. Such a hidden gem in London. It had a view from the movies, overlooking the river. It was modern, HUGE, and had a bathroom to die for with a TV by the bath. The bed was ridiculously comfortable…

The good news goes on. The hotel had put rose petals everywhere in the room, and cupcakes, for no extra cost. We went to the spa where they had done a fantastic offer, and we had great massages. We then enjoyed the jacuzzi and steam room.

Everything in the hotel felt spotless and modern, like it had been built yesterday. Nothing was too much to ask and every single member of staff had a warm smile. We ate at the restaurant which had 50% off and was amazing, with beautiful views and perfect ambient lighting.

I cannot stress how fantastic this place is, start to finish. I am going back there in a few days to celebrate out one year anniversary, and I have no doubt it will be great again. You simply HAVE to stay at this fantastic establishment, because I imagine it's going to become overwhelming popular as word spreads!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Enjoy our Easter Packages on offer!

Easter Greetings!

Take advantage of our Easter Escape Packages and treat your partner or your family to a mini holiday escape this Easter weekend.  Our 5-star facilities and central location ensure you’re in the best place to enjoy all the city has to offer!

Our Easter Family Package includes:
  • *Family of four – Nile room available for Sundays and
  • £249 per night inclusive of continental breakfast for four
  • And inclusive of lunch for four (food only)
  • Complimentary 4 Easter cupcakes on arrival
 *children up to 14 years of age

Our Easter Couples Escape Package includes:
  • 2 nights accommodation for two adults- Amazon Suite £299.00- (two nights)
  • Complimentary breakfast for 2 on both days
  • Complimentary cupcakes and a bottle of white bubbly  on ice in room on arrival
  • 50% discount on food at the Banyan on the Thames
  • 50% discount on Spa treatments
Offer validity: 17th April-25th April***
Minimum 2 nights stay – Rates per room and per night based on double occupancy

**All taxes and service charges included
***Subject to availability
****May not be used in conjunction with other offers