The Grand is a highly luxurious property that I was hugely excited about staying in, up against personal 5* experiences at the Fairmont Dubai, Kempinski Budapest, Ritz-Carlton in Singapore, not to mention most-excellent stays at The Beach at Bude boutique hotel and the Excellence Playa Mujeres resort in Mexico. However, The Grand is perhaps the most iconic and well known amongst it’s more modern aforementioned contemporaries, romanticised as a hallmark for service and Victorian-era suave sophistication and charm.
I was keen to see whether The Grand would live up to it’s reputation, looking to enjoy the sights and sounds of Brighton from a plush and comfortable stay along the seafront.
The Grand Hotel, Brighton: Review
Proudly situated on and towering above Brighton’s seafront, The Grand offers gorgeous and uninterpreted ocean views from it’s lobby, conservatory and front-facing rooms; it’s also ideally tucked along from the famous Brighton Pier, minutes from sights such as the Brighton Pavilion and the quaint shopping and food district of The Lanes, whilst being striking distance of parking facilities and Brighton’s train station.
The Grand experience starts as soon as one heads through the brass revolving doors, top-hatted doorman greeting guests upon arrival, reminiscent of the Victorian-era of which they were first introduced. I must admit that I found myself marvelling at the plush and tastefully decorated art-deco high ceilings and furniture that make up the lobby, bar and check-in area. In fact, The Grand carries elegance throughout it’s entire ground floor…
Sadly, I was rather underwhelmed when it came to my standard room.
I invite the well-seasoned travellers amongst you to think back to your last *good* Holiday Inn or Hilton stay and what your room looked like for what you paid for no more than I suspect would have set you back £150-£180 per night – before reflecting on the following photos and considering The Grand’s £350 price tag for one evening’s stay.
I must admit, I expected something a little more special; yes, the building is 153 years old and is full of character, but the floorboards were severely creaky, perhaps crying out with disdain for that rather dated bathroom and awful shower-curtain combination. The bedroom itself was nothing overly special or even notable for it’s size, fairly contemporary but lacking personality that would separate it from anything of note.
The Grand’s bedding, towels, carpeting and furniture were largely clean, but I wouldn’t have said that the room was spotless (the window and windowsill filthy) and scuff marks littered across furnishings brought the much romanticised elegance of The Grand to an abrupt end. The standard of room decor, facilities such as a plastic kettle that would embarrass the collection-counter staff at Argos and absence of an in-room fridge, notwithstanding the overall cleanliness, simply did not match up to what I expected for a hotel of this potential.
I don’t think it is unjust to demand something better of this nature when considering the attention to detail applied throughout the ground floor, the setting and of course the value for money element.
Cocktails at The Grand
Fortunately, The Grand claws things back when it comes to it’s bar, a hubbub of social affairs, an enjoyable spot to people-watch over a mid-morning coffee, scoffing a seaside afternoon-tea with a view or sipping an evening aperitif.
The service here was slow, with cocktails taking upwards of twenty minutes to arrive despite it not being hugely busy of a late afternoon / early evening visit, however were clearly spectacular upon arrival; the twist on the espresso martini (above) was pretty theatrical and rather delicious.
The bar is certainly a comfortable area to socialise, adorned with beautiful inviting furniture that one could easily sink into. I would for sure return for the cocktails and bar snacks served here, it was genuinely a great intimate place to hang out before heading out to enjoy an evening or pop into for a drink before bedtime.
Reflecting on my time in The Grand’s bar, GB1 restaurant at breakfast and subsequent interactions with staff throughout the hotel during my stay, I do think it’s fair to suggest that improvement could be made to The Grand’s customer service – for me, it was generally good, but missing attention to detail that would allow it to excel and one would expect.
When you pay a premium for quality, it’s disappointing when ‘the little things’ are missed or the service doesn’t feel personalised and engaging; examples included delivering a teapot when a coffee was ordered, serving tea without a teaspoon, clearing plates whilst somebody was still eating, not explaining about the included breakfast at check-in or just a general lack of enthusiasm and warmth during various guest/staff interactions. In fact, the only interaction with any staff member that left me feeling positive was with the charming doorman, Chris, who embodied the passion for customer service and was an excellent ambassador for The Grand. Service is what makes a good hotel GREAT (or Grand…) but I just felt a little deflated.
The Grand Brighton: Review Verdict
I hate to beat up The Grand; I think the product and elements of the service were good, but for £350-a-night, simply not good enough.
Yes, the public areas of the hotel are awe-inspiring, the location spot on for exploring Brighton and the bar a perfect place to unwind with a cocktail or two of an evening, but overall I am not convinced that the quality of my standard room and service received matched my expectation; not once was did I feel like a special or particularly-valued guest, surprised or delighted, something one would expect at a comparable property such as The Grosvenor, The Savoy or Claridges in London. If it weren’t for my most excellent company and the beautiful sunshine to accompany my time in Brighton, I probably would have felt rather disappointed about the overall experience at The Grand Brighton and rather short-changed in the process.
The Grand, 97-99 King’s Rd, Brighton BN1 2FW.