Insider’s guide to: Shepherd Market
Just a short wander from The Athenaeum through some gorgeous Mayfair streets is Shepherd Market, a charismatic square that dates back to the 1700s.
8th June 2021
How did you get into hospitality?
From a young age I knew I wanted to work in an industry where I was surrounded by people. I wasn’t entirely sure what that would be, but what I did know was that I loved performing. I was in my first musical when I was 7 and the rest is history! Being on stage has always been my biggest passion and as I got older I realised there are many similarities between working in a hotel and being in a musical. In hospitality, we are in a sense ‘putting on a show’ for our guests in the hopes of receiving a standing ovation in the form of a positive Trip Advisor review or a returning guest. So whilst I may not be singing and dancing my way through the Les Mis score every night anymore, I am still doing what I love most.
After graduating from Shannon College of Hotel Management in 2018, I moved to London to join the team at Rosewood London on their Management in Training Program. For the better part of the two and a half years I spent at Rosewood, I was the Reservations Supervisor which gave me the opportunity to learn about the ‘business side’ of the operation and also develop my selling skills, which essentially led me to where I am today. I’ve always been a people person and love in-person communication so learning how to sell and somehow providing a memorable and 5* service over the phone was a skill that took time to perfect, but I had the best team to show me the ropes. Fast forward a few years later, I hopped over to Piccadilly and joined the team at the Ham Yard Hotel where I was the Reservations Manager. It was another great opportunity and I adore the hotel but after speaking to guests over a phone for years at this point, I really missed the face-to-face communication. I knew for a while I wanted to make the jump into sales but I am the type of person that will not apply to or accept just any role. I have to feel proud of where I am working and the minute I met with the team at The Athenaeum, I knew this was where I wanted to be and who I wanted to work with! So in 2020 I joined The Athenaeum as the Sales Manager. It’s only been a year since joining the team, and yet already such a journey (the pandemic playing a big part in that). I spent the first five months learning my role over Zoom as we were in lockdown, but that allowed for a lot of training time without distractions.
The people. I joined the team the week that the world went into lockdown so I didn’t have the chance to meet anyone in person for my first five months. However through the morning meetings on Zoom, I still felt very welcomed and included in the operations. So when I finally did come back to London months later, I kind of felt that I already knew everyone. It is very much a mindset of ‘one team one dream’ and you can see that in the way the team do their jobs every day. A few months ago I took on the role of Event Planner as well as Sales which was completely new territory to me but everyone was and continues to be so helpful and patient with my numerous questions! I feel really lucky to work alongside them.
This is a tough one! There have been quite a few over the years. At The Athenaeum a few weeks ago we had a little Chihuahua staying with us called Dolly Pawton. She was so adorable and had a number of photoshoots around the hotel for her Instagram page. I was having a call with a client in our rooftop Residence Lounge and she waddled over to be and sat beside me for an hour during my call, it was great! As for human VIP guests, at a previous hotel I got to meet David and Victoria Beckham which was very cool – I’m a big Spice Girls fan…and who isn’t a fan of David Beckham!
Having been ‘locked down’ three times, each of them were very different. I hate to admit it, but I secretly enjoyed the first lockdown. I hadn’t spent more than two consecutive weeks with my parents or sisters since I was in high school, so being at home with them in Ireland for five months was a very welcomed break. For the lockdowns that followed from November onwards I was back in London, which was very different. However I’m easily entertained and was able to keep myself busy between work and some of the new skills and hobbies I had developed. I got very into cooking & baking, which for anyone that knows me is definitely not a skill I had prior to lockdown. Like many others I’ve perfected my banana bread! I also learned Spanish and a small bit of Mandarin through Duolingo and got very into running – so much so that in a few weeks I am about to run my first half marathon.
Firstly, It’s so nice to see people wanting to book events again. The enquiries have been coming in quickly which is exciting but not surprising in the least. Everyone has had to put their events on hold for nearly a year and a half so people are eager to get back to business! I think the biggest change is how ‘Covid conscious’ we are, and what protocols we have in place to make the guests feel safe. That is a standard question that every client asks me about.
My perfect day out in London would start with breakfast at Farm Girl Café in Notting Hill. It’s one of my favourite spots for pancakes and they make the most delicious vegan donuts! It’s also nicely tucked in behind Portobello Market so I’d follow breakfast with a bit of shopping. From there I would hop on a Boris Bike and venture along the Thames for a few hours with a few stops here and there, most likely including a stop at Southbank for some street food and another stop for a cold drink in a pub with a nice beer garden. For dinner we will definitely be going for sushi at my favourite restaurant, Sticks & Sushi. They have a number of locations but I always pick the Covent Garden one because it’s walking distance to our next stop – a West End theatre. My absolute favourite thing to do in London is to go and see a show. I’ve always been a musical person and believe there is nothing better than a live performance. After the musical, I’ll probably get some frozen yoghurt and then hop on the tube to head home.
It definitely changes depending on the time of year. Now that we’re heading into summer, my go-to is a nice refreshing Aperol Spritz, and without a doubt I would ask Julie Andrews to join me. She’s been such a hero of mine since I was a little girl. I would literally bombard her with questions about her life and the different films she’s made throughout her career. I know she would have some really cool stories. I adore her!
Aisling organises all of our corporate and social events, click below to get in touch for your upcoming event.
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