ME London is the flagship property for the ME by Meliá group. The hotel is Foster + Partners’ first UK hotel project, and the first for which they have designed all of the interiors and exteriors.
Situated in Marconi House, the original London home of BBC radio, ME London offers a collection of 157 rooms, including 16 suites, as well as a two-floor penthouse in the turret of the building. We caught up with ME London’s General Manager to find out more.
LM: How did you start working in hotels, and do you have a particular role model?
GM: I started my career in hospitality 20 years ago, working as a Management Trainee at The Grosvenor Hotel, when it was still a Forte hotel, and I went through the Forte Training Management Program. My passion for luxury, in all its forms, began at an early age as my father was a Director for Chanel, Givenchy, Lanvin and various French Haute-Couture houses. I was therefore exposed at a young age to various elements of what elegance and luxury represent. I was drawn to hospitality, and in particular hotels, because I was always interested in hosting and entertaining people, as my parents did when I was young. And what better place to do it in but a five-star hotel (apart from your own home)? My parents were great hosts, so this taught me at a young age things like etiquette, protocol and how to warmly welcome guests. Then during my career, I was lucky enough to work with mentors like Philippe Leboeuf (now GM at Mandarin Oriental Paris) and Stephen Alden (CEO of The Maybourne Group). They are outstanding professionals that have an eye for detail, and an uncompromising passion for quality and superb service. I try to emulate them every day, with my own style of course.
LM: During your career, you have worked for several prestigious properties including The Ritz and The Dorchester. Are there any particular highlights?
GM: The highlights differ depending on the hotels I have been involved with. However, working with great professionals and amongst successful teams is what I enjoy the most, as well as being part of the history of certain landmarks of hospitality: The Ritz, The Connaught, Claridge’s, The Meurice and The Dorchester all have a great heritage and legacy. Opening The Chiltern Firehouse as the Managing Director was also an amazing past experience. Today, my passion for ME London excites me as I have been given the opportunity to make ME London the best hotel in London.
LM: You have recently been appointed the General Manager of the ME London hotel on The Strand, an award-winning design-led property. What are your plans for the development of this venue?
GM: Ever since ME London launched, it has been on my radar as ‘one to watch’ in London. I have an excellent team working with me, and I am looking forward to taking the hotel through its next stage of development.
I am excited to be putting my 20 years’ experience to use at a strategic level to help to continue to successfully position ME London as one of the world’s leading contemporary hotels and London’s most sought after place to stay in.
So far, the changes to ME London have all been about structure and setting expectations i.e. what’s acceptable and what is not in terms of standards and service delivery. The back of house areas have to be running tidily and efficiently before you tackle front of house. The next phase of development in the hotel will be to inject warmth into room décor and ensure that the packaging of services, such as room amenities, are executed in a way that allows guests to feel like they are unwrapping a gift. The soft touches and feelings of “surprise and delight” are things that I love doing in hotels like this.
Our plans for ‘Radio’ is to strenghten its positioning by particpating in international mixology competitions. As a team, our aim is for ‘Radio’ to be known as one of the best bars in the world.
The key words and elements I want to achieve at the hotel are: sophistication and elegance in an effortlessly cool environment.
Click the link below for page two of our interview with Guillaume Marly