Matthew Steeples examines London venues charging the most for mineral water
A 500ml bottle of San Pellegrino will set you back just 63p in Tesco. At The Wellesley in Knightbridge, however, a customer, Edward Heaton, was left somewhat shocked when he got a bill of £75 for three bottles on 17th July.
Property buying agent Heaton, who was attending a business meeting, was “bemused” by this and asked if it was correct. He was told that after 4pm, the hotel has a minimum spend of £25 per person so alongside £5.50 per bottle of water, the bill included £50.17 for the minimum spend and a service charge of £8.33.
Having emailed and tweeted the hotel to share his astonishment at this “rip off” and the fact he “wasn’t told of [the] charge or shown a menu”, the management responded on Twitter. They failed to show any shock about what happened and simply said:
“Thank you for letting us know. We will make sure our policy at the Crystal Bar is dazzlingly clear to all in the future”.
After ITV London took up the story, a statement was issued by The Wellesley. It read:
“Guests are made aware of this policy on arrival and the rates are printed on the menus distributed on the terraces”.
“The minimum spend of £25 per person is comparable to similar venues across London. Mr Heaton did not raise concern at the time of his visit but did send an email of complaint the following week”.
“In response, The Wellesley’s management team replied on the same day to offer its sincere apologies to Mr Heaton for an experience he deemed less than satisfactory and we would like to take this opportunity to apologise again”.
Mr Heaton clearly won’t make the same mistake again and quipped: “For £75, we probably could have had a nice glass of wine each”. He has since tweeted: “Avoid The Wellesley” and remarked:
“@wellesleylondon Still no apology though and no refund. I will let others decide what that says about your attitude to customers”.
Meanwhile, nearby at the V&A in South Kensington visitors were also complaining about the cost of bottled water in the museum’s courtyard garden. Of the comparatively reasonable £1.60 per bottle charged for a 500ml bottle, Jane Simpson from Yorkshire told The Steeple Times:
“It’s outrageous that a museum would charge so much for water when visitors are from all walks of life. Having said that, I just looked at the sandwiches: £8 for a ham and cheese baguette. I thought it was April Fools’ Day”.
Both Heaton and Simpson would be even more astonished if they visited Claridge’s in Mayfair. In 2007, the hotel introduced a “waters of the world” menu that included 420 Volcanic, a water sourced through 200m of volcanic rock. It is priced at £21 for 42cl – the equivalent of £50 a litre.
Del Boy – who famously bottled Peckham Springs (tap) water in an episode of Only Fools and Horses in 1992 – would have certainly been in awe. If ever a case were needed for “London tap”, we’ve certainly found it now.
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