If you know anything about The Standard Hotel in London, you’d say it is anything but. You don’t even have to step inside to gather that this hotel is different. If you have a look at Booking.com and TripAdvisor, you’ll see that the hotel is listed as a 5 star hotel. Having a look at the local accreditation company AA, you won’t even see The Standard listed; perhaps they did not want to pay the fee for the privilege of being rated. Hmmmm. Bump over to Forbes Travel Guide, and, well, forget it. So what’s the deal here? The answer just might be in the name.
In considering official rating companies such as AA and Forbes (for luxury), they follow an objective set of standards that ultimately calculates a star rating (or not); you have it or you don’t. I trust that The Standard hotel didn’t meet the criteria that was needed to attain a star rating with these companies. But really, do you think they even care?
I had the pleasure of strolling into The Standard for lunch this week after some quiet time at the British Library across the road. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the hotel; in fact, they encourage non-guests to use some of their space for remote working. Once you step inside, you really know you are somewhere different; you have the urge to navigate every inch. As you walk down its short corridor, you find cult(ure) pieces behind a display window for purchase that include socks, necklaces, sleep masks, toys and other unique items that help to tell their story. Walk further in and you find a library space, dj booth, workspace and dining tables in an open concept fashion. Yeah, not your typical hotel by a long stretch. What’s more, you’ll be easily confused (at first) with who’s who. Staff do not wear uniforms and you won’t see any name badges. The only recognizable person I discovered along my journey was the concierge but it was only because he was wearing the coveted Les Clefs d'Or golden keys.
I must confess that my knee jerk reaction was to objectively think “how bizarre”, that is, until I saw the hotel through the lens of its brand storyline. They don’t want to be like other hotels. They want to have a cult following. They want you to feel like we are all one. Get it? The bottom line is that a star rating really can’t tell their story.
So are star ratings relevant in this day and age? Are they leaving out the hotels with perhaps the most potential to connect with guests on an emotional level? That’s certainly something to think about. In speaking with a leading international luxury hotel representation company, the words shared were not minced. “Star ratings are really of yesteryear”. The issue I have with star ratings in general is that they do not address the heart and soul of the hotel. They’re certainly not meant to, so it's not as if they aren’t doing their job.
Hotels like The Standard are to be commended because they’re stepping outside of the usual or logical comfort zone in order to attract a guest persona that may enjoy their brand narrative.
Are you a prospective cult(ure) follower of The Standard? It’s anything but standard.
I’d love to hear your take on star ratings and guest engagement. Have you experienced The Standard before? Tell me about your experience. Do you get it?