Grand Location, Grand Lobby, Not Such A Grand Value A review of Grand Hotel Europe by Orient-Express
This is kind of a tough call since the GHE is in the super-luxe category, where criticism may seem a bit pompous. However, at these prices one should be able to make the call. The GHE is certainly sumptuous, as the public areas project an over-the-top sense of luxury of a by-gone era. But the hotel is relying too much on this first impression, and a look at the edges suggests more than a bit of fraying and the rooms are not even remotely luxurious. The rooms are Marriott-nice, the customer service is Holiday Inn-efficient-to-a-fault, but at the luxury rates commanded by the GHE one expects Peninsula standards in all respects. The customer service is palpably cool to the touch (almost cold), but the breakfast buffet is wonderful and wonderfully set in an art nouveau masterpiece of a room, the caviar bar is practically a deal by western standards, and the location can't be beat only steps from the Church of the Spilled Blood. My bottom line is simply that the mismatch between (a) the rooms' aesthetic and quality standards and (b) the lobby standards does not support the stratospheric room rate. Next time, I will consider the Astoria's more understated charms.