You Think You Know What “Good Service” Is?

Adrian Padina
5 min readFeb 10, 2020

My take on what it’s really about. Do you agree?

Photo by Steven Cleghorn on Unsplash

As a student many moons ago looking to make his first, big jump into the real world with a ‘real job’, I was at the then Hyatt Carlton Towers in London being interviewed for a junior management position. The Human Resources Manager asked me to define good service and, according to him, I was the first one ever to have answered correctly.

You see, good service is not just about 5-star deluxe hotels, or even 7 stars. It is not about gold taps, luxury cars and butler service. These things help and are indeed synonymous with good service, but they do not fully define the concept.

Good service is about meeting and exceeding expectations.

Expectations in this regard can be defined as getting what you pay for. So, exceeding this is like paying for a no-frills airline but getting a frill nonetheless. Or checking into a DoubleTree by Hilton and being welcomed by their signature, warm cookie.

As a hotelier I have had the fortune to eat at the best restaurants in Spain, including those of the country’s famous chef Martin Berasategui, the Japanese Kabuki and Ferrán Adriá. Yes, I did receive excellent service and ate outstanding food, and this was expected.

But I have also fantastic memories of having eaten at beach restaurants, of having been served by friendly young servers with little experience, of drinking from plastic water bottles and of sitting at wonky tables with paper tablecloths. At these restaurants I have also eaten the most mouthwatering dishes you can imagine, relished with the flavours of fresh stews and locally caught fish.

Did I receive a perfumed hand towel after these unpretentious meals? Did I care? If I was lucky, lemon scented wipes would be given after shelling a plate of white king prawns from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, yet I still remember with pleasure that dingy restaurant, those loud diners at the table next to mine, the cheap yet refreshing white wine poured into dishwasher-stained glassware. Heaven.

What I cherish is a welcoming smile and down to earth attention, with no pretense and no airs. In my wife’s local village restaurant there is no menu. The proprietor arrives with two stews to choose from (will it be…

Adrian Padina

Master hotelier who writes and photographs. Take a peek inside my world.