For any other £38-a-night family run hotel, being ranked alongside expensive five-star establishments as having the best customer service in the world would surely be viewed as a dramatic victory.
But for Carol-lynn Robbins and her husband Ian, the owners of the Lauriston Court Hotel in the north Wales seaside town of Llandudno, the accolade is distinctly run of the mill.
Their 11-bedroom hotel is today named second in the UK, seventh in Europe and 20th in the world for customer service by TripAdvisor – and it is only the latest in a long line of awards it has won from the traveller reviews website.
Last year Lauriston Court was named as the best hotel in the world in the same category, and Mrs Robbins admitted that finishing second in the UK this year to the sumptuous Egerton House Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge came as a bit of a let down.
“Yes, it is a little bit disappointing, but when you look at the hotel that came first there’s no way that we can compete with that,” she told The Independent. “They charge between £350 and £500 a night, and I read that they’ve got two staff per guest plus a butler. So I think we’ve still done ourselves proud to be able to come second.”
So what is the couple’s secret? Mrs Robbins points to her previous job as a nurse, saying she finds it “very easy to engage with people”, while her husband has spent a lot of time studying the best way to secure parking places for guests on the town’s crowded seafront.
“Because our hotel is small it’s very personal,” says Mrs Robbins. “We know many of the guests because they’re returning, and we pay attention to the detail. We try to anticipate what people may need – and we just love the job and love the place. Our place isn’t posh, it’s just lovely.”
Last October, the couple even acted as witnesses at the wedding of two of their regular guests. Mr Robbins was the chauffeur, taking the bride to the local registry office and making the groomsmen’s button holes, while his wife was employed as the official photographer.
But Mrs Robbins admits there is another reason that their modest hotel has finished so high up the TripAdvisor rankings in the four seasons that it has been open: impressing upon guests the importance of leaving reviews. She says the couple “embraced it from day one”, asking guests to put their compliments online and responding personally to each of them who did.
Elsewhere in Britain, it seems that the South of England is the place to go for hotels with the best customer service. 14 of the top 25 were located below the M4 corridor, with the South West boasting more than any other region with seven.
Morocco and the US earned the most wins in the global category with four hotels each in the top 25, followed by Vietnam with three. The best of all was Marrakech’s Riad Kheirredine, a small boutique hotel with only seven rooms and a stunning roof terrace.
TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay said: “The fact that our UK award winners range from bargain hotels through to luxury five-star establishments shows that great service isn’t always predicated on price.”