Thomas Kochs

10 Questions for Hotel Director Thomas Kochs

The Managing Director of Corinthia London on the future of the UK, the impact of Brexit and his favorite spots in the British capital.

November 3, 2022

Since May 2017, Thomas Kochs has been Managing Director at the five-star Corinthia London, a 283-room property in a Victorian building, and the flagship of the Malta-based group with a total of nine hotels. In our interview, the charismatic hotelier reveals his favorite spots in London and talks about the future of the country and the travel industry.

Corinthia London

The luxurious hotel is one of the absolute top properties in London. © Corinthia Hotel

Will the Queen's death have an impact on tourism in London?
The love and respect for the Queen in this country is breathtaking. In the short term, her death even caused a small tourist boom in London, as many people wanted to say goodbye to her. In the long term, the royal family will continue to be an institution. King Charles and Queen Camilla, and especially William and Kate, have long won the hearts of the people. Still, the Queen will remain unrivaled. But the monarchy will definitely continue to benefit the travel industry.

Did you ever meet the Queen in person?
Yes, several times, actually. Most recently, I met her at a competition for our Gold Service Scholarship, a program to promotes young talent in the hotel business. The Queen was a patron of the scholarship. I had the chance to escort her to the buffet afterwards and explain the set-up. I have never in my life been so nervous before. I admired her a lot – she always showed great interest and was very focused in the here and now.

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Together with his team, Kochs mastered the challenges of recent years with flying colors.

The UK is facing some big changes, including Brexit. How do you experience the challenges?
London is incredibly strong and resilient. But our costs have gone up enormously, not least due to import fees on deliveries from abroad. The impact on the international labor market is fatal as well. It's almost impossible to hire people from abroad. But our numbers show that Brexit hasn't negatively impacted the tourism sector.

Besides Brexit, there's the pandemic as well. How did you lead the legendary Corinthia Hotel through this difficult time?
Corona was terrible. Traditional hotels like ours had always been open, even in wartime. And suddenly a virus hits and we have to close. The staff was forced to stay at home, but we stuck it out as a team. We created a program called Corinthia Connect to motivate us: daily online meetings, digital yoga and cooking classes, and our hairdressers gave tutorials on how to do hair from home. No one was laid off. We also continued to have employees on site to keep the hotel running, such as cleaning and security staff. As soon as we were allowed to reopen, we were ready to go.

Corinthia London

The rooms and suites inspire with stylish furnishings and a cozy atmosphere. © Corinthia Hotel

Tell us more about the "In Residence" program that the Corinthia Hotel introduced a few years ago?
The program includes spontaneous partnerships with people with special skills, like trend researchers. Or our "spiritual owl," a healer named Bianca, who stays with us for a few weeks and starts a mental well-being program with the guests. She has a special talent to heal people, for example through Crystal Healing, meditation and conversational therapy. 

What news does the future hold for the Corinthia Hotel?
The future brings us Salvatore Calabrese, a maestro of the cocktail world. He is our partner for our new Velvet Bar, which opens in November. The bar was designed by David Collins and inspired by the 20s. The music and joie de vivre of this carefree era will be celebrated at the bar.

Sustainability is unavoidable nowadays, especially in the travel industry. How do you take on this issue?
We give guests the opportunity to make their stay as sustainable as possible. For example, everyone can decide for themselves whether they really want fresh towels and bed linen every single day.

Corinthia London Spa

The noble hotel is also known for its outstanding spa. © Corinthia Hotel

What impact does digitization have on your guests?
Every guest is entitled to demand that their own technology work well. But do you really want to control your entire room or the staff via an iPad? We have a classic telephone that can be used to call the staff personally. I find a digitally functional booking system much more important than a highly digitized room with technological service.

What sets the Corinthia Hotel apart from other 5-star hotels in London?
Our main objective is to make people feel better – and we succeed at that. The most important thing is a trained staff that welcomes our guests warmly and lovingly, but with the necessary distance. Our specialty is exceptional service that leaves nothing to be desired.

Corinthia London

In addition to the homely ambience in the rooms, guests can look forward to British charm galore. © Corinthia Hotel

What are your favorite spots in London? Where should every visitor go?
I think it's great to explore a familiar city in a new way. The Thames run right through London and it's just lovely to go on a relaxed Thames cruise and admire the London skyline from the water with sights like the London Eye and the Tower of London. There are also delicious food markets, such as the Borough Market, where you can taste an abundance delicacies from all over the world.

Corinthia London
Whitehall Pl, London SW1A 2BD, United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 20 7930 8181
Price: doubles from approx. €915

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