Salvatore Bartolone, Head Concierge, St Pancras Renaissance London

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? As a child I was fascinated by Geography and Travels. Aged 5, I was given an illustrated World Atlas as a gift and I became a prodigy by learning all the different Continents, Nations and Capital cities. My older sister soon started to show me off at school at every given occasion. A child who could just about read  and write but instead had memorized all of that data – amazing! I then started to dream about becoming an explorer, inspired by the characters of the books by Jules Verne. I could easily see myself “around the world in eighty days”. Once at school, I discovered a certain predisposition towards foreign languages, cultures and world history. Not much of a mathematician unfortunately, but I was excelling in the “art of communication”.

Tell me about how you got into your line of work.  As a teenager I was a bit of an “independent dreamer” and I learnt to be self sufficient aged 12. My parents would struggle to keep me at home. Aged 16 I was offered a summer placement at the InterContinental Park Lane in F&B just to consolidate my language skills. I did so well that after completing my studies in Italy, I came back to the same hotel and was offered a Pageboy position within the Concierge Department. It was certainly the best time of my life… I was practically based outside running errands come rain or shine. I was there representing my Hotel with immense pride and politeness. I learned the logistics of this great city, all the streets and the outlets, places of interest and history. I soon started to represent my hotel in all the social gatherings and consequently my career developed pretty fast.

Which other international city would you most like to live in and why? Since childhood I have been fascinated by Venice in Italy; everything is on water and life seems to go by in a more relaxed way. Lately I’m also very fond of Barcelona (this City has it all: history, art, tradition, unique lifestyle, and youth).

Which are your favourite pubs? This is a tough one! Recently I have stumbled upon “The Eagle Tavern” off the City Road in Hoxton N1. It is possible the only pub you’ll ever frequent that is famed for its name-check in a nursery rhyme “Pop goes the Weasel…” It was by singing the rhyme with my children that I became curious to go and discover this one. The Food was freshly prepared and delicious, the ambiance rustic and authentic with friendly staff.  Out of town, I love “The London Apprentice” which is set in an idyllic and picturesque spot by the River Thames close to Syon Park. One of West London’s finest, this Pub is one of those places that you naturally think of when the weather is fine and you fancy an outdoor meal or drink.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?   Treat everyone as the most “important” at all times, as you never know what this person might become one day! (Great advice from a former Head Concierge of mine a few years back…!) In fact, a receptionist whom I worked with 25 years ago is now a GM, soon to be the SVP of an important international hotel chain.

What motto do you live by?  I would be tempted by “Never say… never in life” but I would rather go for “Treat others as you wish yourself to be treated!”

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