Opening a hotel in London might seem a daunting task to most, but young and intrepid Olivia Byrne is not most people. The daughter of a veteran hotelier who built two Paris hotels from scratch, Olivia, together with her brother, has taken the family business to London where she manages a state-of-the-art high tech/quirky design boutique establishment in Eccleston Square.
Formerly a run of the mill budget B&B in the heart of Victoria, The Eccleston Square Hotel, has been transformed into a stylish hub by the ambitious siblings who act as hands-on managers, personally greeting guests and ensuring nothing is left to chance (Olivia mastered attention to detail in the kitchens of Joel Robuchon where she took a 6 month internship).
The hotel’s philosophy is that a guest should be able to do most things from the comfort of their Hästens bed. The beds are, in fact, a major feature – they massage, change gradient for different positions and give you an incomparable night’s sleep of course.
Another great touch is the provision of ‘Handy’ mobile phones allowing guests to make international calls free-of-charge.
And while the emphasis is definitely on high tech, the Byrnes siblings do make sure guests enjoy simpler pleasures too – such as access to the Eccleston Square private gardens.
Interestingly, the hotel has not applied for, nor does it intend to, for a traditional star rating, hoping to make it instead on its own merits. This has paid off.
Says Olivia, “We opened Eccleston Square Hotel in 2011 with a client base of zero; five years later we have a high percentage of repeat business and a solid reputation. Suffice to say, we place enormous importance on positive word of mouth recommendations. Being young millennials we are interested in the fast moving online media world, including social media and bloggers – but we are also aware of volume of noise and information on the internet. Our message is clear and strong and we seek to work with brands and writers who are aligned with the hotel’s core values of technology, well-being and value for money. The branding factor for us is really being the most high-tech hotel in London.
As with all things nowadays, branding is of paramount importance, including social media influences. Yet it’s important that the voice on social media strikes the right note. Whilst social media is important, it is certainly not the be all and end all! Rather, for a hotel, this would be the intangible hospitality factor that a guest ‘feels’ (and shares, even if via social media).”
Establishing a new standard in any industry is a hard path to tread, but the young Byrnes appear to have acquitted themselves splendidly so far. We look forward to their future projects.