Ms B and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary yesterday, and EG Chauffeurs (one of London’s premier chauffeur services, best rated on Trustpilot), very kindly invited us to use one of their S-class Mercedes. In Britain, some people have the strange habit of calling the best of its class “The Rolls Royce”, and of course EG Chauffeurs have their fair share of these fine British cars to choose from for those not in the know.
Why an S-Class is better than a Rolls Royce
In Germany, where I’m originally from (before I became an Englishman a few years ago), we use “S-class” the same way: as epitome of perfection, luxury, and prestige. So S-class it had to be. Ervin Gjoni’s (the founder and head of EG Chauffeurs) strategy is to focus on the Mercedes brand such as S-Class and V-Class rather than other brands, going forward. The cars can be used universally for everyone with great taste, a need for comfort, and the right amount of spare change. A Roller is not the first choice for most businessmen and-women on their way to a meeting or for running errands, especially around London streets.
About Shepherds and Steam Engines
The word limousine (nowadays often used for the stretch version only, but really referring to any chauffeur driven luxury sedan or saloon car, usually with a partition between the driver and the passenger compartment) comes from the French region of Limousin, whose shepherds were known for their robust cloaks and hoods that protected them from the elements. Their outfit resembled that of early chauffeurs who were sitting on an uncovered seat outside the passenger cabin, no matter if it was cold and snowy or not. The French word chauffeur means stoker and derives from the earliest times when cars were steam-driven and had to be loaded with coal.
When cars were invented and during the 150 years or so that followed, a chauffeur driven car was not the exception but the rule. Those were the days, yay!
The Role of a Chauffeur
A movie about a chauffeur (Driving Miss Daisy) won four Oscars, and more recently, the French Transporter franchise with Jason Statham celebrated the fine art of driving expensive cars around for clients while wearing nice suits – and killing baddies along the way, of course. You see, chauffeuring has often been associated with auxiliary services.
(c) Driving Miss Daisy photo: Hollywood Reporter; (c) Transporter: Moviehole
As you’d imagine, in reality a chauffeur’s duties are quite different from the movies. Chauffeurs can comfortably drive you to airports or business meetings, financial roadshows, Royal Ascot or Wimbledon Championships, or take you on a tour to see all the beautiful, iconic places the UK has to offer.
The World’s Most Famous Chauffeur (for Now)
Roosevelt Zanders (1912–1995), perhaps the world’s preeminent (for now that is, give Ervin’s team a few more years) chauffeur of all times has his own Wikipedia entry. The list of former clients includes Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and John F. Kennedy. But Zanders was not just driving these famous people around. He also made their hotel, restaurant, and theatre ticket reservations, picked up dry cleaning, and arranged for babysitters. Rumour has it that he also once made a cash delivery of today’s equivalent of USD1mln for Aristotle Onassis, that he delivered 45kg of cooked king prawns to John Wayne’s Paris hotel room for a little party, and two tiger cubs to the President of Panama.
The World’s Best Chauffeur
Well, back to our evening yesterday: As soon as we had agreed the details, we were sent a profile of our driver, and details of the car, including licence plate number. 15 minutes before pick-up, we received a text from him, to advise that he was waiting in front of our building. As soon as we were out the door, our chauffeur was waiting to greet us with open doors.
The car ride was very pleasant. There is no need to talk much about the car. (It was less than a year old and all their cars are new.) Everyone knows what an S-class looks like and that it is an extraordinarily fine car. We were still surprised about the all-round views, as soon as the partial glass roof was laid open.
Tales from the Life of a Chauffeur
Our friendly and professional driver was at first politely holding back, until he realised that we were exceptionally chatty people. While making sure not to mention any names of clients or to divulge anything too personal about the unnamed clients, it was interesting to hear how his current main client was an 8-year old girl (well, presumably her well-to-do parents) whom he drives to school or wherever she likes. A few weeks ago, he drove the child and her miniature pet poodle to Paris (and back) to visit relatives (the girl prefers to go by car, because the poodle doesn’t like planes or trains).
Another client from before always had his armed bodyguards drive in two armoured SUVs directly in front of and behind the Mercedes, you know, for safety, as you would, if you’re a Russian oligarch. There is of course the odd high-ranking politician, Hollywood A-lister or rock star, comes with the business. Apparently even rock stars are on their best behaviour these days, at least on the way to the concert.
Why Nothing Beats a Chauffeur Service
When we arrived at Galvin la Chapelle for our dinner reservation (post here), the service was impeccable again. Chauffeur service does have a great touch to it which no Uber service (and apparently they do S-class too, I didn’t even know until I researched) could ever dream of coming close to. EG Chauffeurs’ staff are seasoned, well-vetted, well-trained professionals and long-term employees with the clear objective to exceed any expectations. The prices for EG Chauffeurs’ S-class service start from as little as £90. A whole day (8 hours) costs just £395. This is very reasonable, considering many car rental firms hire out self-drive S-class for similar amounts of money, perhaps on average just £100 less.
After an amazing dinner experience, our chauffeur was waiting for us again right in front of the restaurant to pick us up and drive us home. What a perfect way to end the evening. We’ll be back as paying customers, not every day, but for special occasions.
Looking for more great experiences? Check out our posts about our helicopter ride over London, our visit to two-starred Lafleur, Frankfurt, two-starred Hélène Darroze, London, or our tour of the Douro Valley.