Here’s something that would swiftly quench anyone’s thirst: A businessman has been charged £75 for three bottles of water at an upscale London hotel.
Edward Heaton was meeting a client at the Wellesley Hotel in Knightsbridge during the recent heatwave.
Instead of a tea or coffee, he ordered three 500ml bottles of San Pellegrino - which typically cost 60p in supermarkets.
But when the property-buying agent asked for the bill he was staggered to be charged £75.
It emerged the Wellesley - a 5* hotel which charges £600 a night for a suite - operates a minimum charge of £25 per person when using its bar after 4pm.
The water had already cost £5.50 per bottle and there was also a service charge of £8.33. A 'minimum spend' charge of £50.17 was also added, bringing the total to £75.
Heaton, who runs property buying firm Heaton and Partners, said: "I have no issue if they have a minimum charge, but they need to make it clear. It is the lack of transparency that I have a problem with.
"I was meeting a client at a hotel. When we sat down, a waitress came over and took our order. It was a very hot day, around 4pm and we asked for three bottles of water.
"There was no menu, we just gave our order, had the water and then I asked for a bill. It came to £75 - for three small bottles of water.
"I thought it was extraordinary and I quietly asked if it was correct and they said 'yes, there is a minimum order of £25 per person after 4pm'.
"I didn't want to make a scene because of the people I was with so I paid the bill but got in touch with them later to complain.
"They were incredibly unapologetic and would not budge, but there were no menus when we sat down and no one explained the minimum spend."
Heaton tweeted his thoughts about the experience, suggesting customers “Avoid @wellesleylondon - £75 for 3 San Pellegrino in their garden. Not told of minimum spend of £25/head. #ripoff
The hotel replied: “@EdwardHeaton Thanks for letting us know. We will make sure our policy at the Crystal Bar is dazzlingly clear to all in future. All the best.”
@EdwardHeaton Thanks for letting us know.We will make sure our policy at the Crystal Bar is dazzlingly clear to all in future. All the best.— The Wellesley (@wellesleylondon) July 23, 2014
The denizens of Twitter piled in, describing the hotel’s policy as “crappy” and it’s response as “smarmy” and “cheeky”.
Heaton, 44, said: "For £75, we probably could have had a nice glass of wine each or maybe even a bottle of champagne.
"But three bottles of water? I wasn't angry. I was just totally bemused.
"I spend a lot of time in central London and I have a lot of meetings in the top hotels. I am pretty well versed in how these places work but I have never had this before.
"I will never set foot in that hotel again."
Most supermarkets charge around 60p for a 500ml bottle of San Pellegrino, which is a popular brand used in hotels and restaurants.
For £75, Ed could have bought 125 bottles or 62.5 litres of the water.
A statement from the hotel said: "The Wellesley applies a minimum spend of £25 per person as standard after 4pm for guests occupying the hotel's cigar terraces where Mr Edward Heaton held his business meeting on 17 July 2014.
"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 e-mail 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."