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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 05-May-06


Friday 5-May-06

Elegant hotels, celebrities and manners

I'm sitting at breakfast in an elegant hotel in Sheffield, England, blogging on my PDA. It is neither olde-worlde nor traditional, but sports glass-and-steel cladding in an ultra-modern setting. But it's still a great place. Bizarrely, it's called MacDonald's, but they do serve more than burgers.

Aside from the turned-down sheets at night and the freshly-squeezed orange juice in the morning, you can tell the quality of the place by the discreet and polite service that offers just the right level of attention. Good service like this changes minds very subtly. For example, "Would sir care to try the salmon? There's a very nice one, fresh in."

British service does vary, but done well, it is unmatched. In particular, the Brits do 'manners' very well. Manners are about polite respect, not kowtowing nor suppressed aggression. Manners are as much about who you are as what you do and say.

And manners also beget manners, as polite respect leads to polite respect. Which is rather a nice way of changing minds. Be genuinely nice to others and they are much more likely to agree to your requests.

Back at breakfast, another point of note is not about the quality of the hotel or service but of the quality of its guests. The world snooker championship is on in Sheffield at the moment, and many of the players are staying here in this hotel. I am surrounded with familiar faces from TV and it feels strangely unreal. I don't mean the celebrities when I talk of the quality of the guests, by the way, (although I'm sure they are good people) -- I mean the other guests, who are ignoring the celebs, letting them have a normal, human breakfast.

Perhaps it's the well-mannered air that the staff exude and maybe it's the good upbringing of the guests, but manners do rule here today and it is unsurprising that the stars make a beeline for this place. Whilst it's nice to be recognized it's irritating to be endlessly pestered.

So I'm taking a lead from the staff and the other guests by keeping my my mouth closed and my beady eyes turned away.

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