Photograph courtesy of London Marriott Grosvenor Square
Harry Miles has been Head Concierge at London Marrriott Grosvenor Square for a quarter century. In our latest Ask a Concierge interview, Harry shares his experiences dealing with extravagant guests and what it was like to be a concierge before one could just 'Google' for information. He also reveals a few of his favourite things to see and do in London.
You've been with the London Marriott Grosvenor Square since its opening 25 years ago. How did you begin your career? Did you have any idea that more than two decades later you'd still be with the Marriott?
I started my career in 1970 as a night porter at the Waldorf Hotel. My father also used to work at the hotel and he got me the job. During my time at the hotel I was promoted to head night porter, which gave me an opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the hotel industry.
I first started work at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square in 1979, which was then known as the Europa, and was promoted to head concierge in 1985. I’m celebrating my 25th year as head concierge at the hotel and am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given during my time here.
What changes have you seen in the hotel since 1985?
I’ve seen a number of changes during my time in the hotel industry, especially at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square. I think the biggest development has been the Internet - being able to work digitally has made my job far easier. I have to deal with around 300 questions a day from guests and having email means I can meet the requirements of our visitors without difficulty.
Any interesting experiences with notable hotel guests over the years?
In the late 1980’s an Arab Prince stayed in the hotel for a couple of weeks, along with his large family and entire entourage. They took over the entire second floor of the hotel and utilised a vast array of security.
On the second day of their stay a big Harrods truck pulled up in front of the hotel and
delivered two ping pong tables which were ordered for the kids. Two rooms were cleared of all furniture and became the designated ‘play-rooms’ for the children. Several further rooms had kitchens set up, an aquarium was brought in for the prince’s dining room and one full suite was designated as a ‘storage’ room. This room was empty at the beginning of his stay but was gradually filled with Selfridges, Harrods and Luis Vuitton bags and boxes.
During my time at the hotel I’ve had a number of notable experiences with guests, including achieving the impossible in the wake of the volcanic ash crisis - but of course discretion is very important in this job!
Is it possible to have an affordable day out in Mayfair?
There are many ways to have an affordable day out in Mayfair. The Only Running Footman is my favourite pub for a bite to eat and you can get delicious food at affordable prices.
There are also a number of art galleries dotted around which run free exhibitions. The hotel is even running a number of deals to celebrate its 25th Anniversary this year, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy a night of luxury. It is also only a stone’s throw away from Selfridges which means visitors can enjoy some window shopping, or even a stroll in Hyde Park for an affordable day out.
What sets the London Marriott Grosvenor Square apart from other comparable hotels?
Everyone has their own definition of the term luxury, but in my opinion luxury is all about exceeding the expectations of your guests. By ensuring the first class handling of visitor requests, along with maintaining a classic 5-star surrounding, the London Marriott Grosvenor Square is a perfect example of luxury at its best.
Top tips for an ideal day in London?
There are so many things to do in London which is great as it means that tourists are often spoilt for choice. As far as an ideal day out goes, I would recommend a trip to the British Museum, a stroll in St James’s Park or a visit to my favourite place in the city - Hampstead Village.
London Marriott Grosvenor Square is located at Grosvenor Square (W1K 6JP). You can find out more about Harry and crew here.