Big Interview: St James's Hotel and Club
It has been described as one of the “best kept secrets” in Mayfair. The private members club and hotel St James’s has been home to an array of film stars, celebrities, authors and diplomats in its time.
The 5-star boutique venue offers the luxury of bedrooms and suites, a private members club along with a Michelin-starred restaurant. The offer exudes luxury with the venue taking as much care over its tea and coffee menus as it does with its wine list.
This has been spearheaded by Antonio Vigorito, who has worked for St James's Hotel and Club for nearly three years as food and beverage manager. He is also vice-chairman of the Food and Beverage Managers Association of London and has a background in luxury hotels and private members clubs – making him uniquely positioned to ensure the venue has the right range and focus on its coffee and tea.
“When you create a beverage offer whether it is wine, coffee or tea it has got to maintain a certain standard,” says Vigorito.
“Let’s say you have an amazing coffee brand or producer, you have to have an equivalent in tea or soft drinks or wines. If you are in a luxury environment then you will go for quality but essentially you have to look at what a customer really wants.”
The hotel and club boasts both tea and coffee menus offering an array of premium products with coffee sales making up around 65% and the remainder being on tea.
It stocks three different types of coffee from his home country of Italy supplied by Lavazza.
“I do have a Michelin-starred restaurant in the hotel and in addition to the Lavazza we have other speciality coffees. We use a company called Difference Coffee Company, which sources the best coffee in the world,” he says.
“They are very rare and super premium.”
The venue purchases three types of rare coffee from the company including the Jamaica Blue Mountain, the Kona, which is a type of coffee from Hawaiian and the Wild Kopi Luwak from Indonesia, which is often referred to as the ‘world’s most expensive coffee’.
“The three blends of Lavazza can make any coffee people ask for such as latte,” he says.
“The other three must be drunk in an espresso style or Americano. Those coffees don’t need milk or sugar.”
Its tea menu is given equal attention with the venue supplied by the East India Tea Company. All are loose leaf teas and the venue has even created its own tea blend called the St James’s Blend, which is sourced from India and Sri Lanka.
“The master blender came here and we gave the indication on how we wanted the tea. He presented us with a few types and we had a tasting,” he says.
Its William's Bar & Bistro also offers the Afternoon Tea 1840, which is based on a historical link with the venue. Charles Elme Francatelli, a former chief cook in ordinary to Queen Victoria, took over the culinary management of the Coventry House Club, which became the St James's Club in 1869. While the venue may have moved, the current St. James’s Hotel and Club’s Michelin-starred chef William Drabble, has been keen to capture these traditions and has created a selection of sweet treats and sandwiches based on authentic recipes and favourites of Queen Victoria with a modern-day twist.
While the venue in Mayfair may be one of London’s "best kept secrets" it also looks like one of the best places to indulge in a premium coffee or tea and you might even see a film star or celebrity.
- Antonio Vigorito is a member of the European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo's Steering Panel.
- For more information on European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drink Expo, contact Sukhvir Hayre on +44 (0) 203 668 9809 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and check out stand and sponsorship options.