I am back from two days in London and still thinking about the experience. This was a different trip for me – no museums, no galleries – just long walks, some shopping, some dining, some warming up at the fireplace in the lounge at the hotel. I must not have noticed before, but this is what hit me this time: everybody we dealt with was on top of their game. I think this means if you’re very good at something, you go do it in London. Some outstanding people were:
- The Albanian head sommelier at Gordon Ramsay’s at Claridge’s. We had very good conversations, both about wines and about Albania.
- The South Asian saleswoman who sold me two pairs of jeans (Hudson and 7 For All Mankind) after having me try on about a dozen to find, in her opinion, the perfect fit.
- The young pale blonde English woman who took us through the entire range of Jo Malone fragrances until we found the two that were just right.
- The Italian maitre and staff at Pont de la Tour, where we had a festive lunch and felt at home despite eating turkey and looking out at Tower Bridge.
- Everybody at 41 Hotel, including a concierge with the fantastically literary name of Adele Coetzee.
- The hostess at the lounge we used at Gatwick airport, who gave us a most enthusiastic overview of her facilities and truly looked sorry we couldn’t stay longer when it was time for us to board.
This sample is, I admit, biased towards the retail and hospitality sectors, places with brutal competition where staff can’t help but being eager to please in the current downturn. But if this small sample says something about the quality of human capital in London that holds true across the board, then it must be one of the reasons why London is such a great city.