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Malcolm Hendry, hotel manager
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a hotel manager

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…according to Malcolm Hendry, 48.

The secret of a great hotel: great towels

‘I’m the general manager of The Rubens at the Palace, as well as the smaller Hotel 41 next door, both of which have five stars. To move up the star ratings as a hotel, there’s a long list of simple, objective requirements – providing an iron in a room, for example. But at the five-star level, things are very subjective so the inspector has some leeway in making decisions. For instance, there’ll be a statement that the towelling has to be of a certain luxury and softness.’

It takes hard work to stay at the top

‘It wouldn’t be impossible to move down a star, and going from five stars down to four would be easier than four to three, because the highest level is more competitive. Losing what everyone has worked hard for is one of the worst things that could happen. A bit of fear does spur you on, but fortunately we don’t have many “Fawlty Towers” moments.’

Luxury hospitality isn’t everything

‘When I travel, I’m definitely not a person who only stays in five-star hotels. You can take inspiration from a three-star hotel or even an Airbnb property. Personally, I like to stay in a modern, minimalist hotel – which is something quite different to where I work.’

Posh guests mean posh lost property

‘On one occasion a Patek Philippe watch got left behind and the owner didn’t think about it for a month. I think they’re worth around £20,000, so you have to be a certain type of wealthy person not to notice that on your arm. And we had a small dog left in a room once – the story goes that its owners had to run for a train.’

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