5ive Star London sat down recently with Philip Newman-Hall, General Manager at one of the UK's top hotels, Belmond Le Manoir.
He took some time out of his day-to-day running of the exclusive hotel outside London to answer several questions posed about the luxury hotel industry in Britain.
What inspired you to start working in the hospitality industry and what is unique about Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons?
I first got a part time summer job as a waiter when I was 15 in a hotel in Eastbourne in Sussex which at that time was called The Wish Tower Hotel. It made me realise that I was good at something (I hated school and therefore did not perform well) and that if you gave great service and engaged with guests not only would they pay you for whatever you were providing they also gave you tips. In those days my tips were more than my wages!
Le Manoir is unique because of Raymond Blanc and his core philosophy that the kitchen and the service is the heart of the house. Even though we have had various owners in the 30 years that Le Manoir has been open this essential ethos has never changed and Raymond and all of us are as passionate today about Le Manoir as he was when he first opened the doors on the 17th March 1984.
I believe we are also unique in having nearly 220 staff to look after our guests which has to be one of the highest staff to guest ratios in this country.
Your favourite dish by Raymond Blanc?
I love the beetroot terrine with horseradish sorbet but my absolute favourite has to be the timeless classic which is the quails egg ravioli.
If you were to briefly describe Belmond Le Manoir to a first time guest, how would you?
A French House with a Heart and a Soul set in the English countryside with fantastic food and gardens and the most relaxed and friendly service.
What would define a quintessential British day for you?
Full English Breakfast, National Trust Afternoon Tea and a British Pub Dinner.
Your advice to a first time visitor to Belmond Le Manoir?
Stay for more than one night! You really don't have time to experience all the gardens if you are only with us for one night. Book a garden tour with one of the gardeners and try and get to see the kitchen whilst you are with us.
Some of your favourite travel destinations and properties?
So so difficult as I have been very lucky in being able to stay in some lovely properties. However as a hotelier I sometimes want to just stay in a Gite in France or a cottage overlooking the sea in Cornwall.
My favourite hotel of all time is another Belmond property that I first stayed at 20 years plus ago when it was owned by Richard Branson and that is La Residencia in Deya in Mallorca.
In London I still love The Goring for its quintessential Britishness.
To find out more about Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, please click here.