FOR BUSINESS: The most extraordinary experience I ever had in a hotel was at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. Landing late from Australia, I requested not to be woken early. At 7am, I was awakened by a window cleaner. I pressed a red button for the general manager. Ten minutes later, I was asleep 25 floors up in an identical room. When I woke, everything had been put back where it had been in the other room, even a half-eaten apple in the bathroom. I ordered a lavish breakfast. Back in London, a note from the manager awaited me, apologising and offering a free night's stay. He enclosed my breakfast order and said I would be served it in future at any Mandarin hotel. I have been.
FOR PLEASURE: For reasons I won't bore you with - related to a burst soil pipe and a mendacious little builder called Wayne - I had to stay for four months at the One Aldwych hotel in London. Such incarceration would send even a serious traveller bonkers. Yet I found it cathartic and pleasurable. Owner Gordon Campbell Gray wanted five-star luxury without the snobbery. He succeeded. Service is the key - the staff are bright, efficient and smile a lot. The rooms are sumptuously chic: giant pillows, bowls of strawberries (Gordon heard I liked them) and interesting art. One Aldwych has a fantastically cool bar, two great restaurants, a Roman pool and a hi-tech gym, where I found myself being out-run one day by Rupert Murdoch.