‘Black or White’
In between two stays at this prestigious hotel, I’d been informed of an overdue upgrade to their gym facility. So, after the disappointment four years previously, I was intrigued to find out exactly what these improvements were and if this famous 5 Star hotel had seen the light..literally!
The Dorchester has always been an integral part of London’s high society ever since the doors opened in 1931. Having attracted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Michael Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger over the years, this hotel is now a second home to numerous VIPs. With the impeccable service, the style, the history and the convenience to Hyde Park, it continues to attract the rich and famous from all around the world and rightly so. However, I very much doubt this is connected directly to their workout experiences down within the bowels of the building.
As I headed down the stairs towards the gym, passing the welcoming Spa area, I realised sadly that the upgrade could only be referring to equipment and decor rather than any favourable relocation within the beautiful building.
Set down in the basement and part of a busy thoroughfare for staff, the positioning of this facility could only have been a ‘box ticked’ when the health & fitness addition was conceived back in the day.
Offering zero natural light, low ceilings and with old ventilation ducting and electrical conduits up above, this small space was certainly not in keeping with the image of the floors above or for the clientele they were hosting.
The minimal investment made within this space has only taken place in the last year for whatever reason. With brand new Technogym equipment, new wooden flooring and a thick covering of black paint on the ceiling to hide the multitude of sins, this exercise space is unfortunately oppressive to say the least.
To clarify, I’m not against integrating the raw look of any ceiling attachments, in fact, it can be an exciting feature and one we’ve used in our designs, but this needs to be styled correctly, and that’s pretty simple to do considering.
8 stations available and all in perfect working order as expected.
- Treadmill x 3
- Rower x 1
- Vario x 1
- Upright Bike x 1
- Recumbent Bike x 1
- Stair Climber x 1
- Lat Pulldown x 1
- Leg Press x 1
- Adjustable Bench x 1
- Olympic Half Rack x 1
- Dual Adjustable Pulley x 1
- Kinesis Press Station x 1
- Dumbbells 4kgs – 22 kgs
- Kettlebells x small selection (max 20kgs)
- TRX x 1
- Med Balls (various)
- Step, Skipping Rope & Various Bands
Towels & Refreshments
- Both available as expected but no juices or sports drinks on offer.
Adjustments & Improvements
- Reduce the Cardio equipment by two or three units to make way for more resistance equipment, benches, etc. With five or six people in this small room, most newcomers would turn away and either head to the park or return later.
- There is no dedicated space for floorwork/stretching so reduce the cardio equipment as above.
- The two large units – Dual Cable and the Half Rack – are too close. Consideration for the working space required is crucial both for practical and safety reasons.
- Increase the Dumbbells at both the ends of the spectrum. 4Kgs for the lightest and 22kgs for the heaviest excludes many gym goers.
- Include some suitable rubber flooring around the free-weights area before the floor becomes damaged.
- Consideration of the ceiling: smart lighting, the correct coloured paint and making a feature of the ductwork (rather than trying to hide it) will add some interest, some height and will make the room less claustrophobic all round.
- Conduct some market research from previous guests as to whether they were happy with the facility or not.
- Relocate the facility in an ideal world.
The Important Six
- Equipment Selection 5/10
- Layout 3/10
- Cleanliness 10/10
- Staff N/A
- Towels/Drinks 5/10
- Inspiring Environment 1/10
The Dorchester has been one of the leading hotels in the city for many years, but now competing with the likes of the Four Seasons just 350 yards away. With their gym and spa located on the top floor, floor to ceiling windows and a view overlooking Buckingham Palace and Big Ben in the distance, there is just no comparison sadly.
With numerous 5 Star hotels not that far away too, the modern day traveller has ample choice where to spend their money. And with an ever-growing health-conscious population, the standard of the health & fitness facility has a direct implication these days. So, yes, it is an important area to consider, and on this occasion, 53 Park Lane, Mayfair has been left behind rather dramatically.
GFG Score: 3/10