Celebrating Service at The Stafford London with Long-Serving Team
1 Sep 2016
- Pioneers include Master Sommelier with 40 years of service, Bar Manager with 31 years of service and Executive Head Concierge with 17 years of service
- Retaining staff has been key to the many repeat guest visits over the years
- A hotel of storytelling with a unique wine cellar and the famous American Bar
Founded in 1912, The Stafford has 105 individually decorated bedrooms and suites split across three unique buildings; the Main House, Carriage House and Mews Suites. The hotel – which stretches across numbers 16, 17 and 18 St James’s Place – has the feel of a private residence. Not surprisingly, back in the 17th Century, it was one of London’s finest town houses. Number 17 (today the hotel’s grand Main House) was most famously owned by Lord and Lady Lyttelton (ancestors of Diana Princess of Wales and her brother Earl Spencer). As an independent hotel, the long-serving team members play a huge role in ensuring guest repeat visits. Some guests have been staying for over 50 years and have returned with different members of their families to visit what feels like their close friends at The Stafford London.
Stuart Procter, the hotel’s General Manager has managed the team for some nine years, having returned in 2015 to his role. Whilst some hotels find it difficult to retain staff, The Stafford London has some of the country’s longest serving staff members, leaders in their areas of service. Gino Nardella is the Master Sommelier and has been with The Stafford London for 40 years. Bar Manager Benoit Provost has been in The American Bar for 31 years whilst Executive Head Concierge Frank Laino has been greeting guests for 17 years. The hotel’s Executive Assistant Sarah Pendrigh has served for 16 years. Their skills have ensured that every aspect of hotel life is to a five-star standard.
The Stafford London showcases the epitome of timeless elegance above ground, but its wine cellars under St James’s Street, offer a gripping history dating back to the 17th Century. The Wine Cellars are open for all manner of events including private dinners, receptions and of course wine tasting with Master Sommelier Gino Nardella. Built by Lord Francis Godolphin and used as an air-raid shelter in World War II, The Stafford Wine Cellars are part of the wider unique history of the hotel. Today, the Wine Cellars house up to 8,000 bottles of the finest wine. At the end of the cellars, guests will discover a fascinating informal ‘museum’ of artefacts left behind in wartimes. These artefacts include a collection of posters and newspaper clippings from around the world, featuring articles on the ongoing war. Gino can often be found showing guests around on private tours.
During the 1930s, it was the fashion for most West End hotels to rename their bars ‘The American Bar’ in order to attract the business of the increasing numbers of North American visitors. The Stafford London is one of only two bars in London who retained the name. Bar manager Benoit Provost is only the second Bar Manager in this time. He meets returning guests time-and-time again, many who have donated memorabilia which is on display in the bar today. The personal gifts that decorate the American Bar have all been donated and include trophies, flags, signed photographs and other mementos, many from across the Atlantic. Nancy Wake was a highly decorated war hero, working in the French Resistance and a huge fan of The Stafford London where she stayed for several years. One of the most popular cocktails at The American Bar is dedicated to Nancy Wake. The ‘White Mouse’ is the cocktail. The name was chosen as this was the name the Nazis called Nancy Wake because she was never caught. Guests often spend time reading about Nancy within the American Bar where her photographs are also displayed.
Frank Laino, the hotel’s Executive Head Concierge produces a monthly video and newsletter for guests about what to do in London that month. Frank has been with The Stafford London for 17 years and he has been a member of the Society of the Golden Keys since 1987. Over the years, Frank has been awarded several industry awards including “World’s Best Concierge” by Virtuoso. At The Stafford London, Frank also assists with the whole day-to-day promotional side of hotel operations working with the marketing department and introducing key London contacts.
Teamwork and friendship continue to make The Stafford London one of the city’s finest luxury hotels and a true home from home.
16 – 18 St. James’s Place, London, SW1A 1NJ 020 7493 0111 www.thestaffordlondon.com
Accommodation is priced from £379.00 per room per night