As the first point of contact for guests, the role of Head Chauffeur at Red Carnation Hotels’ London properties is a crucial one. Luckily, Colin Monplaisir is utterly charming and blessed with a wealth of knowledge about London’s must-see sights and secret spots. Here, he talks to us about his favourite walking route in London and going the extra mile for hotel guests.
How long have you been working as a chauffeur at The Milestone?
“I’ve been with the company for more than eight years and look forward to many more happy years to come! Along with my team, Graham & JB, we have more than 80 years chauffeuring expertise.”
What are your favourite aspects of the role?
“I love the fact that I get to meet so many different people and help guests discover the best bits of London and our home counties. Every day is an adventure for me and our guests. I’ve built wonderful relationships over the years and look forward to building more.”
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
“The first task of the day is to make sure all of our cars are in tip-top condition and ready to go. Guests will be greeted in either a Range Rover Vogue Autobiography or Bentley Arnage Mulliner, depending on their preference. Each vehicle is stocked with goodies for our guests, such as water, newspapers, history books of London, mints, food menus and Wi-Fi.
If it’s their first visit to London, I'll drive to the most popular tourist hotspots—Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and so forth. This gives guests a good sense of location. Whichever Red Carnation hotel they’re staying at, there is always something to see or do nearby.
During our conversation, I gather information and relay their specific preferences back to hotel. For example, If I gauge that a guest likes a certain member of the Royal family, I will personally gather memorabilia on that Royal family member and place a leaving gift in the car for their last transfer; it’s all part of our Tiny Noticeable Touches scheme.
I’ll also make sure that guests know that our cars are at their disposal throughout their stay, and can be used for shopping expeditions, evening events, dinners and even tours around London, the UK and Europe. Wherever there is a road, we’ll be happy to travel there for our guests!
When a guest hires a Red Carnation Hotel chauffeur, we morph into their personal assistants, helping in every way we can. This includes being able to provide information on exhibitions and other exciting events. If a bigger vehicle is required, it’s no problem at all; we’ll be able to oblige.”
Can you share any weird and wonderful anecdotes from your time in the job?
“Last Christmas, December 2017, Dr Fernandez arrived. I’m sure he won’t mind me mentioning his name as he’s one of our regular guests. He brought 17 family members along, spanning three generations, ranging from 2 years old to 70 years old.
I decided to hire a big bus (now known as the party bus!) We decorated the party bus with balloons, streamers, toys, snacks, drinks and numerous other items. It looked like Christmas had arrived early! We also arranged for a customised 12ft banner to be made, which had the family crest and logo on it. We proudly held it up in the arrival hall to warmly welcome the Fernandez family to London and Red Carnation Hotels. They were absolutely thrilled!”
Away from work, what are your favourite areas and places to visit in London?
“I like to visit South Bank with my family. Walking along the river there is fantastic. My favourite route is to stroll past the London Eye and Royal Festival Hall before walking across the Millennium bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral in the City and ending the walk in Borough Market, where there is always a wonderful atmosphere and, of course, great food.”
Are there any secret spots close to the hotel that you often recommend to visitors?
“My secret spot I tell guests about is near The Milestone Hotel & Residences. It’s the Queens Arms Pub on Queens Gate Mews. It’s so tranquil and the setting on cobble-stoned streets is magical. Guests love meeting local residents in the heart of Kensington in a relaxed atmosphere.
Maida Vale canal is another hidden gem. Barges slowly whisk you through locks and canals in the heart of London, whilst sipping a glass of champagne, before you disembark in Regent’s Park. A perfect end to a summer’s day in London!”
Image Credits: Lead image, portrait of Colin and Chaffeur image all courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels. Big Ben and Houses of Parliament © iStock/BrianAJackson. Little Venice canal ©iStock/ph2212.