Muffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT dealbreaker.com) is an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a "Bulge Bracket" bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Her regular column "Heard in the Suite" is a probing (and, ahem, fictional) weekly look into the secret lives and behind the velvet curtains of the investment banking world.
It is really hard to get work done in London. Someone has got to do something about the Hotel situation in London. Why aren't 30 cash-flush private equity firms snatching up London hotels and converting them into something civilized? I mean, really. It is beyond the pale. So we get into the city and one of the deal team guys is trying to convince us to switch our hotel reservations to some place near the client. I have never stayed at a hotel in London so what do I know. Someone at the client suggests the "Millennium Hotel." Sounds good and modern to me so we go there. Disaster. Look at what passes for "modern" in London:
I mean really. Talk about boring. It's in the middle of this huge, dull square. There are a few trees but that's it. No boutiques. No where to sit and have a nice breakfast. No shopping nearby. Nothing. I am in London, I am going to want to see the city and do some tourist things, obviously.
There was this huge line in front of this building. In fact, I saw it like four times because everyone was staying at the hotel near there and there was always a line and a bunch of police around. At first I thought it might be a British department store with a sale or some celebrity was signing books in it or something but I saw the big American flag and realized it was an American store of some kind. No thanks. I didn't come all the way to London to shop in an American store. Anyhow, there was no way I was staying near that thing so I grabbed a cab while the others were checking in and asked to head to a proper hotel. The cabby was pretty smart. He guessed right away I was American. I was so busy chatting with him that I got out of the cab and paid without even looking at where he dropped me.I don't think so.I was getting frustrated so I called my friend Mark. Mark works for a U.S. bank in London but he doesn't work in investment banking so he seems to have a lot of time off. I don't think that the non-investment banking people really work as hard, but neither are they expected to. Anyhow, Mark came and got me and suggested we walk around a bit and catch up. This is in Central Park. Well, it's like Central Park but it's in London. Again, it's a workday, people!This Swan tried to be friendly but cause of all the bird flu there was no way I was getting near the filthy thing.Mark wanted to sit somewhere so we found a place after walking for a really long time. I have no idea where this is.I don't know how long we spent there. I had too much tea so I got antsy. It was getting pretty late so Mark suggested we go to this hotel. We got there and I was going to check in but Mark laughed and said you don't check in to this hotel, you go there for drinkies. That seems really stupid since it is called a hotel. They made really good martinis though! Mark was getting hungry, and I have to admit I was too, so he called on his cell phone and had Dominos deliver to the hotel lounge. You can tell the food in London is pretty bad. I heard this rumor but found it hard to believe since it is in Europe. Anyhow, all the people in the bar-lounge were watching us after it got delivered. There was no way I was going to give them a piece though. They just stared instead of asking. Like I was just going to give them a slice of pepperoni without even being asked.I was getting a little tired, so I asked Mark to take me to a good hotel. He had just ordered another martini though so I had to have one too. Then we went to this nice looking hotel, but it was really late and by that time they didn't have any rooms anyhow. Mark offered to let me stay at his place instead. I might have been a little overserved.This is Mark's place. We didn't get a lot of sleep and Mark had to leave early in the morning to go to work so I had to go find a hotel really early.
Not only that, but it's filled with a bunch of surly looking people who sit around and do nothing, it is a workday you know, people, and statues of boring looking British guys like this one.
He put me in a cab and told the driver where to take me and I ended up at this place. The jet lag must really have been getting to me because I couldn't really hold my new camera very straight I was so tired. I checked in and went right to sleep. Luckily I woke up in time for dinner!
Next: The London Deal Part II