You’re A Middle Eastern Millionaire Visiting London And Your Favorite Hotels Are Blacklisted. Where Are You Gonna Sleep?
In August, news emerged that a blacklist of Qatari-owned hotels had been circulating on social media among dignitaries and business people from the Middle Eastern countries in a diplomatic standoff with Qatar.
Many of London's luxury hotels historically favoured by wealthy Gulf travellers are now no-go areas.
They include Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley in Mayfair and the InterContinental on Park Lane, all owned by state-backed Constellation Hotels; and the Churchill and the Grosvenor House, owned and part-owned by the former prime minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jaber al-Thani.
The Carlton in Cannes, a well-known property haunt during Mipim that is owned by Doha-based Katara Hospitality, is also said to be on the blacklist.
London luxury hotels have been having a great year, according to data from CBRE. Occupancy rose by 7.3% and average room rates by 7.9% in the first half of 2017, leading to a 19.5% increase in revenue per available room.
Partly this is a result of a new breed of five-star hotels coming onto the scene and challenging the established brands, as well as good performance from stalwarts.
For luxury travellers taking the boycott seriously, here are your options.
Pros: Owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar’s regional rival the United Arab Emirates, so you get extra patriot points for staying here. Incredibly fancy.
Cons: Located in Knightsbridge, favoured by Middle Eastern travellers, but is nearby Qatari-owned Harrods also on the blacklist? Unclear, so you might have to do your shopping in another part of town.
Pros: Also incredibly fancy, great views over Hyde Park, houses one of only four U.K. restaurants to hold three Michelin stars in Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.
Cons: It is right on the edge of Mayfair so it is probably an extra five-minute walk to Bond Street and the good shops. Park Lane is a very busy road, so might be a bit noisy.
Pros: One of the most luxurious hotels in London with an incredibly well-appointed spa. About £100 cheaper per night than some of its rivals.
Cons: Just south of Trafalgar Square near the river Thames, this is so off-pitch for the Gulf set it might as well be in Croydon.
The Mandarin Oriental
Pros: Houses a great restaurant in Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner. Have the spit-roasted pineapple; it is incredible.
Cons: Its Hong Kong ownership makes it generally unproblematic, but the hotel does provide room service for the next-door super luxury One Hyde Park residential scheme, which was part funded and developed by HBJ, the former Qatari PM. Does providing food for the flats next door make the hotel blacklisted? Confusing.
Pros: Shoreditch is not the historic home of wealthy Gulf travellers, who typically do not venture east of Bond Street. But the area has an increasing number of five-star and luxury hotels, such as the Curtain, and is becoming more of a destination for global luxury travellers. Nobu's hotel is the most luxurious of the bunch.
Cons: What if you don’t really like sushi?
Pros: The City location is not typical for luxury hotels — or any hotel really — but the Ned is achingly cool and is in the heart of London’s banking district, so you can see your wealth manager before he is forced to move to Frankfurt. If you do not like the in-house dining options, Weatherspoons is very close by.
Cons: Bank tube station can be a nightmare at rush hour.
Raffles at the Old War Office
Pros: An iconic London building is set to be turned into a five-star hotel, with the announcement earlier this summer that the Indian Hinduja Group is to bring Raffles — the hotel brand that is a testament to British imperial grandeur — to London for the first time at the Old War Office near Buckingham Palace.
Cons: Not planned to open until 2020 so the blockade of Qatar may have to last a fair while.