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Hilton downgrades UK executive lounge offering

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Back in July, Hilton issued a group-wide edict to its hotels that it was no longer necessary to serve spirits or port in the Executive Lounge.  All that was necessary to meet brand standards was to offer beer and a red and white wine.

To be fair, some hotels have pushed back on this.  Not surprising, since we’re hardly talking about a massive expense here.  What is the total value of the spirits on offer in a typical lounge? £100?  I assume the annual cost can’t be much more than £500.

Hilton Leeds

There also appears to be a move against the ‘free breakfast’ that you are obliged to receive as a Gold or Diamond member.  More and more properties are following the example of the Conrad New York which I visited in February, and restricting elite guests to something along the lines of ‘coffee, juice, muffin’ with the option of paying for a full breakfast.

This following story may or may not be true, but it comes from a staff member working in the Executive Lounge of a UK Hilton property.

Apparently, Hilton has is also reducing the recommended level of lounge catering from the Autumn.  What is not clear is whether this change will be mandatory or optional on individual hotels.

The current recommendation of ‘two hot and three cold’ food options will be reduced to ‘one hot and two cold’.

I don’t have any further information on this at present, although the source is reliable.  Hopefully individual hotels know what is good for them and keep a broader range of options – cutting hot food as we move into the Winter does not seem incredibly smart …

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Comments (19)

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  • James67 says:

    Nothing would surprize me. My last half dozen stays in Hiltons ranged from just ok through mediocre to downright awful withe the result that I have had only one stay in the past year. When they are in the process of making these changes they should consider renaming their loyalty scheme Hilton HHoribles! My most recent stays have been Edinburgh Grosvenor, London Metropol and Euston and, honestly, I have been more satified in some Travelodges

    • Rob says:

      Hilton’s problem in the UK is brand standards. Doubletree – in theory the cheaper brand – is ofte FAR superior in terms of hotel quality because they are often the old Mint properties. And, whilst I haven’t stayed in a UK Hampton, the new-build Berlin one I visited a couple of years ago was equivalent to any good 4-star hotel and had free internet and free breakfast for everyone. The main Hilton-branded properties, on the other hand, are now showing their age badly – the photo of the Leeds Hilton in the main post tells the story.

      If you go to, say, Kuala Lumpur and stay in the Hilton by the main railway station – on the other hand – it feels like a Four Seasons (nearly!).

      • Colin says:

        Hilton Doubletree in Dunblane is an old ‘hydro’ and is a very grand affair (recent ish refit too), while Hilton at Haymarket, Edinburgh if you are unlucky you end up in the annex across the road, which is quite grim.

        In Kuala Lumpur once stayed in Traders (Shangri La group of hotels), stunning hotel and service. Friends from KL constantly moan about the quality of UK hotels (and cost) with good reason.

      • James67 says:

        I understand where you are coming from. My only good experence lately in UK was Hampton Croydon last year which I enjoyed. Early next year I am at Doubletree Victoria for a quick overnight theatre break at Wicked and flight connection at Gatwick so I will see how that goes. Last year I stayed in Hilton Pattaya for 2 nights and it is new and at £150+ per night expensive for Thailand. I hated it though, it was uninspiring decor and layout and staff lacked the charm you typically expect in Thai properties. I have a feeling managment wanted them to be very formal. It wasnt a patch on the old Marriott along the road athalf the price. There, refurbished roims are nice enough, pool is relaxing and enjoyable, food is great and staff are wonderful, relaxed and friendly but professional too. Have had good hotel experiences in KL too and will be there next year too. Was going to blow remaining HHonors points on cheaper Doubletree though unless you think Hilton is worth the difference.

        • Rob says:

          KL probably offers the most luxury hotels for the least money anywhere in the world, so it would be a shame not to stay somewhere flash. The Hilton shares a building (and pool) with LeMeridien in a tower directly outside the station where the airport train arrives. Loads of other good options, although the Mandarin is dated.

          • Andrew Grant says:

            +1 for the Hilton KL. I stayed back in March. It’s very nice and in a good location. I was able to get a room on the top floor with Gold status and the view was superb.

          • Sir Stamford says:

            I share the view on Kuala Lumpur Hilton especially their Executive Lounge which has a superb offering. I stayed with them back in December 2012 and they were excellent.

            The only negative comment I have is with their front desk staff – they offered to upgrade me to an Executive room when I actually booked an Executive room anyway. When I pointed this out to them, they replied that my room rate was low (I booked the room as part of a Hilton promotion) and they can’t offer an upgrade! I am fully aware that upgrades are never guaranteed even as a Gold member but why offer to upgrade and then retract it?

            Sir Stamford

      • I. Concur says:

        I can happily report that the Hampton outside Newport is a fabulous property: as new, super friendly staff, spotlessly clean, and a decent breakfast selection that would make US Hampton goers green with envy – and to top it all off, only 5,000 HHonors points per night on a reward stay. To think I could spend 6-8 times as many points (granted, in a different geographical location) on a tired old concrete Hilton in the UK boggles the mind. Definitely a case of the program being somewhat posterior over nipple.

  • Paul says:

    Have not been a Hilton customer for very long but got Gold on just 4 stays. My experience has been good to date however most stays were in the USA which is a very different market and hotels, on the whole are superior to most similar hotels in the UK.

    Stayed last weekend in Hilton Strathclyde a rather dull and dated property with a dirty and unpleasant health club attached. No executive lounge but full Scottish breakfast for the 2 kids as well as my self.

    Best thing was the staff…..some of I have ever encountered in the UK. That makes a big difference for me.

    • Volker says:

      Well, you can sometimes get rooms at Hilton Strathclyde from as little as £41 – doesn’t that say it all? I’ve got a stay in Glasgow coming up next month and I had been looking at this property (the price sounded to good…) but Mrs Volker who has been to Bellshill before warned me. So it’ll be the one in William Street instead.

  • Alan says:

    Sounds like they’re trying to reduce the standard to US lounge levels, rather than increase the Asian ones 🙁

    Most of the UK properties I stay at don’t have lounges anyway, so I’m more bothered if this spreads further afield.

  • MaltapointsTom says:

    Yep – stayed at the Hilton Liverpool a few days ago and was a little shocked by the exec lounge offering – there were pretty much queues forming behind the crisp bowl. Certainly no spirits (which I find a bit odd, as I’d have thought that the unit cost for spirits is less than bottles of beer), and no beer or wine outside of a small “evening drinks” window.

  • R. Saunders says:

    With the exception of a very few properties, Hilton isn’t a brand that I use in the UK anymore. Some of the inherited properties from MINT are fine tho’. I achieved Gold about ten years ago but with the continual eroding of the points / quality I have used all my points up and have no intention of staying with Hilton in the near future, and some of the Gold upgrades were odd….. to a family room that smelt of baby sick in Blackpool for example.
    Drinks prices also the wrong side of steep in the UK regional hotels.
    To hear that they are further downgrading the product is no surprise.

  • littlefish says:

    I like the HGIs in the USofA and the newer Hamptons by & large. This side of the pond I’ve found the Bristol Doubletree awful, but the HGI in Bristol mostly pretty good.
    Lounges are pretty much a non-issue for me as the properties I tend to stay at don’t have them.

  • London Traveller says:

    One related point to be aware of regarding Executive lounges is that when I last stayed at the Hilton Deansgate, the front desk staff were quite aggressive in selling upgrades to Executive Rooms. I was told the room I had booked wasn’t ready but I could buy an upgrade. I took up the offer thinking that, on the basis of previous experience, it would be worth it to access the lounge. Only when I enquired two hours later at the front desk as to why I could not access the lounge with my key card was I told that the upgrade did not include lounge access (which, frankly, rendered the upgrade worthless).

    Funnily enough, people trying to check in at the time (two hours later) were also being given the line of your room isn’t ready, but we can offer you an upgrade…

  • Andy says:

    I’ve stayed at the Metropole and the Olympia this week (London) and noticed that the Olympia had reduced the exec lounge drinks to wine and beer… However the Metropole still provided the full service …. But I prefer the lounge in the Olympia but its not as ideally located…

    Following the comments of others though my room at the DoubleTree Ealing Common was much better than either hotel, or Hilton Kensington…. and not much more inconvenient than the Olympia ~ if you are self funding it’s a good deal cheaper for perhaps an extra 10 mins on the tube…

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