A Cup of Tea with Luca Garofalo – Conrad London St. James
A cup of tea with… where we sit down and chat with those who make Victoria what it is. People with a passion for Victoria, people who live here, work here, know the area, its history and its future better than anyone else.
This month, we visited Luca Garofalo, Sales Manager at Conrad London St. James Hotel, the luxurious hotel in the heart of Victoria. Having worked and lived in other European cities, he tells us about his take on the London.
How long have you worked in Victoria?
I’ve been working in Victoria for about seven months now, but before that I was in Mayfair, which isn’t too far away. I moved from one side of Buckingham Palace, to the other.
What was the biggest change here you’ve experienced since then?
I particularly enjoy being in this area. It’s full of opportunities, and I’ve come in at the best moment, because the new developments are coming to life. So, the biggest change is developments in the area, another change is that these new developments are getting tenanted and people are starting to get comfortable in the area. Victoria is being made use of and you can feel that everywhere, in my hotel of course, and across the neighborhood. It’s much more lively than even maybe just one year ago.
What’s your favourite spot in Victoria?
I have many, I really love the new developments. They are very fresh and original. But this particular area right here, almost going into St. James, it is very London; it is very old; it has a Victorian feeling to it. There is some beautiful, Georgian architecture just around the corner, leading into the park. We are really, really blessed here. You turn your head and you can see the Abbey just down the road with the Houses of Parliament. You turn the other way and you can see so many other, little, quirky, very London places.
If you could change one thing in Victoria, what would it be?
Homelessness, is something I have really experienced here. Otherwise, in terms of pollution it doesn’t feel that bad. We are a huge city and pollution here is really not as bad as other comparably big cities, I think. We are quite lucky, because, as much as we complain about the weather, the rain and wind actually keeps the air very fresh. I wouldn’t mind a bit more greenery in the area, along the streets, but at the same time, we’re close to many beautiful parks here, so you just have to go round the corner for that.
And what’s your favourite story?
Discovering how this neighborhood is linked to the Parliament and activities in the political area. There are so many politicians using our facilities, and of course discovering the division bell, which is a bell that calls the MPs to go back to Parliament to vote, so you get a bit of an insight into their life and what they do. One of the best stories is also the continual opportunity of change, seeing how beautifully London is changing and modernising itself. We have so many IT companies here, which is so unexpected.
What’s your message for the people out there in Victoria?
The best is yet to come. We are seeing the new developments coming to life, empty spaces are being occupied by exciting companies. We’ll also benefit from having the American embassy fully open and in full swing down in Vauxhall, because we have direct access there from Victoria Station. That’s going to be a hub of activity, people will be socialising there, and then Apple headquarters will be there too. Victoria will be the natural point of contact with the city of London and London itself from there. We are going to see more exciting restaurants, new bars, it’s just a fabulous time to come to London. I actually came from the very well-known Mayfair because it’s so well developed and improved. So I’m very excited for what the future has in store for the area.
What’s the biggest issue, challenge Victoria may face in the future?
Keeping up with the good work that has been done so far, keeping the consistency. You have all sorts of changes around here, neighbourhoods that have undergone complete transformations that are now seeing a revival. Victoria is on the way up and the point is to keep it there. It’s a very fine balance of security for the people living here, managing to balance not just new business coming in, but also to attract people to live in this area. To make it a 24/7 type of neighborhood, where people live and enjoy what’s on offer here. People are promoting the area in every possible sense, so I’m sure they will do a very fine job and they will get the standard of Victoria higher and higher.
What’s your favourite lunchtime spot:
Right now I’d have to say the Blue Boar Bar and Restaurant right here in our Hotel – It’s just great, but so is Cinnamon Club, which is just down the road.
We are blessed with choice actually. The new restaurants at Nova are lovely, like Aster, Stick’n’Sushi and Timmy Green is great for burgers and something a bit more simple.Back to our news Top