Discovered: Strauss-Kahn's Travel Review of New York Sofitel

05/17/2011 05:03 pm ET | Updated Jul 17, 2011

45 West 44th Street, New York City, NY 10036
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Ranked #17 for business in New York

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"Shocking decline in service since last visit..."


Date of review: May 14, 2011 - New
R. Polanski found this review helpful.

I have stayed in the past many times at this hotel. My occupation is in the world of international finance and it has been my pleasure to enjoy the hotel's Imperial Suite and all its amenities. In previous visits these amenities have included separate marble shower and bath, high speed internet access, Bose radio, flatscreen television, minibar, L'Occitane shower and hair products, blow dryer, and blow jobs.

On my most recent stay however I was distressed to discover that some important services were no longer available. For example, my room service orders were repeatedly delivered by male and not female staff, despite my specific requests to the contrary. After my first night, turndown service to me was discontinued for some reason, even while I saw evidence that other guests on the floor continued to receive it. When I complained to the manager on duty about this, the gentleman insisted he would look into the problem and offered me a pillow chocolate in compensation but this was not what I wished to be compensated for. Further inquiries into the matter went unanswered. Sadly, the decline in the standards of the Sofitel's housekeeping was in evidence again on a second occasion during this same visit. In my occupation, I travel frequently and to hotels all over the world. And while English is not my first language, I have found it very easy to communicate my wishes to the maid staff regardless of their local native tongue. Rarely have I been disappointed--and never so much as I was at the Sofitel.

When turndown service finally arrived, it was shortly after noon the next day (!!). Fortunately I had not yet dressed and indeed was just emerging from the separate marble shower. The maid exhibited her professionalism--or so I thought--by knocking hard twice on the door and shouting "Housekeeping." As frequent travelers --and les hommes du monde in general --know, this is the international practice of alerting a guest to the imminent entry of a maid, and that the guest, if he is male, should immediately remove his pants.

Evidently, I was not quick enough to respond, as the maid in question knocked a second time, exhibiting her eagerness to gain access. Thus I hastened out of the bathroom without pausing even to dry myself, so pleased was I to think well again of the Sofitel and overlook a seemingly temporary lapse in service. Maybe the hotel was busy, maybe it was understaffed on the weekend, we live in times of economic distress, after all... Or so I told myself.

Before I could even reach the door, however, this saucy little maid had already forced her way in to my room!!! It is true that she was less attractive than I had expected--and had also experienced during past stays (see above: we live in times of economic distress, after all...). But as a distinguished leader in the world of international affairs, I knew better than to express my disappointment--or to discourage such keen interest and initiative in one so young. Her obvious enthusiasm for her metier indeed touched my heart, and other deep parts of me. The Sofitel housekeeping uniform is one of my favorites of all the chains--and she wore it smartly. The pale gray of the high collar--so teasingly hiding the decolletage!--offset her tawny flush, no doubt caused by her first encounter with a man of such an immense, and enlarging, reputation. Her pressed white skirt, cinched tightly at the waist, cunningly hid, like Eve's fig leaf, her free basket of fruits.

I instructed her as to how I wished for her to perform her tasks. I saw instantly that we had a communication issue, so I instructed her again more slowly, this time using gestures and--when she failed to understand those--I attempted to demonstrate to her physically what I wanted. Instead of providing the services requested, however, she became quite rude, pushed me away, and attempted to leave. I had no choice but to grab her again and threaten to report her poor attitude to her superiors. When she appeared again not to understand me (I had begun to think this may be an "act" of hers, like the dead stares of bureaucrats who know perfectly well what you want them to do), I showed her physically again, and again--and once more in the bathroom--what I expected of her. This was, I explained patiently, how the Sofitel turndown service was to be performed. I further suggested that maybe her own linguistic shortcomings had confused her into thinking the phrase meant, quite literally, to "turn down" a guest.

Immediately after this incident, I was called suddenly and unexpectedly away to an important meeting in Europe, and so I did not have the chance to relay any further complaints to the manager before I used the Express Check Out. But I am so shocked and distressed by the decline in the New York Sofitel's service, I feel compelled to write this review right away in the Air France departure lounge lest any other unwary traveling businessman experience what I did. The poor service--along with the inexplicable unavailability of the chicken sausage on the breakfast menu--would cause me never to return to the Sofitel New York again.

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