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A Reply to Sathnam Sanghera of The Times

At Skene House we read Sathnam Sanghera’s article in The Times with some interest. Read it here. In his article he described how badly some hotels are adapting to their customers’ needs, from overcomplicated lighting, to spending money on installing phones by toilets (we don’t get that either), to the hotel industry’s seeming loathing of fresh milk. At Skene House, we ❤️ fresh milk and provide it for all guests, in every hotel apartment, all guest lounges and each breakfast restaurant.

We could also see how well what we offer at Skene House meets Sathnam’s criteria of what travellers want from hotels when travelling away from home. At the time of writing our properties ranked No1 and No2 on Trip Advisor for the city of Aberdeen, with the No1 position being held for five consecutive years. Five years! We deliver quality rather than gimmicks and our guests thank us for it. The reason we provide what people actually need goes back to the 70s. Imagine your world zig-zagging as we go back in time as Charles Skene, who founded Skene House, reveals what he witnessed.

“When the oil boom came to Aberdeen, I saw lots of UK and international business travellers, often with kids in tow, staying for long periods in Aberdeen hotels or attempting to relocate to the Granite City. Children were running up and down the hotel corridors, kids were trying to ‘play’ in the lobbies, there was no designated space for adults to relax or work, families crammed into one ‘family room’ (family purgatory more like), parents or solitary travellers couldn’t cook, and laundry was a nightmare. A hotel room simply didn’t deliver what a modern business traveller required. And that was what I spotted back around forty years ago.’

‘In 1979 I launched Skene House Apartment Hotels. We took the best of a hotel, mixed with the best of an apartment, and we gave people a home. We recognise that when living away is part of the job, accommodation that delivers isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. I was a business traveller myself and had suffered for many years at the hands of poor or fanciful providers. For one night, or one year, we offer travellers a respite. Each one, two or three bedroom apartment comes with its own kitchen and living room. We wanted an apartment at Skene House to become a guest’s own private place. Put your feet up after a day’s work and watch the telly. Cook your own meals, work at your desk and sleep in your own separate bedroom. Today we also spend money on small essential details such as washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, washing powder and fabric softener, as we feel there’s no point providing equipment without enabling our guests to use it. We want our visitors to relax or work, not head to the shops to buy household products. And we put a pint of fresh milk into the fridge – it’s not a difficult thing to do! In our Holburn property we have an Honour bar so if you fancy a glass of wine or a dram you can have one, you don’t need to walk out to the shops to buy a bottle or venture to a pub alone in a city you don’t know, unless you want to of course.’

‘Just a few feet away from each apartment are the ‘hotel’ services visitors need. A reception desk and 24 hour check-in (providing an element of safety for lone business travellers), breakfast, guest lounges, newspapers, free tea and coffee, and business services. And we made sure it was roughly the same price as an ordinary hotel. We haven’t invested cash on scatter cushions that nobody wants, or smart TVs that are too smart for their own good. But yes, our free wifi is strong in all our apartments and public areas (isn’t it annoying when free wifi only really works in a hotel lobby?), and we provide ample, free city centre parking for all our guests. We’re not going back to basics, or reinventing the wheel, just providing guests with what they tell us they need. Over 2016/17, our guest questionnaire revealed that 99%, of 1702 guests who answered the question, said they’d stay again, which isn’t perfect but it’s a great figure. We’re a family business, based in one city, and we take a lot of personal pride in what we deliver and we can relate to what Sathnam is saying.”

So Sathnam if you or any of your colleagues ever find yourselves in Aberdeen and you wish to put us to the test (quake) we’re quietly confident you’ll be able to operate the lights, open the doors, work diligently, cook with ease and chill out. Thank you for saying what you did, because we’ve spent almost four decades providing the elements you recognise a traveller requires, so your comments are exactly what we needed to hear.

If you do wish to discover more about Skene House click here. Call +44 1224 659 392 or email reservations@skene-house.co.uk for further information.

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17 thoughts on “A Reply to Sathnam Sanghera of The Times

  1. It sounds lovely. Decent wifi can be so hard to get nowadays that it’s nice when a hotel can offer a good service. Especially in preference to annoying scatter cushions

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      A big difference when you’re actually trying to work.

  2. Fab about the wifi connection! I don’t want fancy technology that will take me an hour to work out, I want a luxurious and comfy room with internet!

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      Wifi is a huge deal these days. Some people wish to switch off once they return to their hotel room, but others need to continue working efficiently.

    2. Skene House Blogger says:

      Strong wifi is make or break if you’ve actually got work to do!

  3. I don’t get the whole phone by the toilet thing either. As long as there is good WIFI and great service then I am happy! x

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      Exactly!

    2. Skene House Blogger says:

      Wifi and good service, exactly!

  4. Evelina says:

    It’s really hard to find a decent hotel with great wifi connection. Even on holiday it’s a must for me.

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      If it’s there you don’t have to use it, but at least you have the option.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Gadgets are great, but they have to be usable!! I usually end up asking my hubby how to use it!!

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      🙂 Some gadgets are too clever for their own good!

  6. Good Wifi is a winner for me every time and what’s not to love about fresh milk? 🙂

  7. Kara says:

    I think that service can make or break a hotel or restaurant and looks like you have got it right

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      It’s amazing how it’s the personal connection that often makes the biggest impression.

  8. Great post. I love having a phone in the toilet. I think it comes in handy.

    1. Skene House Blogger says:

      Love your candid comment 🙂

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