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London's luxury hotels cut rates for celebrities

01 December 2008 by

London's luxury hotels are cutting rates for celebrity guests in return for their endorsements, a report has claimed.

Hotels including the May Fair and the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park are slashing celebrities' bills by at least 50%, according to the Sunday Times.

The properties expect their famous guests to host press conferences in their suites in return for the favour and mention where they are staying during interviews.

They also hope to attract paparazzi photographers to get mentioned in connection with the stars.

The May Fair has struck deals with celebrities including Hilton heiress Paris Hilton, X Factor judge Louie Walsh, singer Ronan Keating and members of the pop group Girls Aloud and is offering them rooms for as little as £100 a night.

The Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge has an "ambassadorial" rate for celebrities and last year appointed Mary McCartney, daughter of Sir Paul McCartney, as its official photographer.

"Celebrities who regularly stay at the hotels enjoy a bartering agreement," the hotel said.

This agreement works on a basis that international celebrities who regularly stay at the hotels and consider themselves to be "fans" of the group appear in the group's advertising campaign over a three year period. In return, the celebrity receives a number of complimentary room nights and chooses a charity to which Mandarin Oriental makes a donation of USD 10,000 (£6000).

However, critics of the deals say ordinary guests have to subsidise the celebrities through higher bills.

A whistleblower at the May Fair told the Sunday Times that staff at the hotel had to pay fines for errors.

Hotel documents show six staff on reception were "fined" £150 when a guest was mistakenly given back a £900 deposit he had paid in July.

The hotel said: "Staff who are docked pay sign an agreement that they have broken procedures either knowingly or accidentally. It is part of their contract.

"A member of staff who let a guest who said he had run out of money and would reimburse us later leave without taking any credit card details or contact details from him was asked to reimburse the money because she had broken all protocols. This is standard practice in the hotel industry."

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By Kerstin Kühn

E-mail your comments to Kerstin Kühn here.

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