Subscribe to Candid Magazine
Q&A with Hotel Café Royal’s Nigel Stowe
June 20, 2016
Nigel Stowe moves throughout various rooms in the exclusive members’ club at Hotel Café Royal. As director of this chic establishment, he seldom sits still, as he hustles and bustles around the marble-clad walls of Café Royal. The swanky five-star, 160-room hotel is located in the heart of Piccadilly Circus. Whilst Café Royal has undergone extensive renovations, it’s evident that Stowe, with his spark, an eye for service, detail and sheer people magnetism, is the best asset Café Royal has gained most recently.
Give us a little background on yourself?
I grew up in Rutland, which is the smallest county in the UK and the only county in Britain that doesn’t have a McDonalds. I was an art student, then studied Architecture to degree level in London – it was during the 90’s, the rave scene took off, hit the clubs for a good ten years and stayed in London.
What led you to a life in the hospitality industry?
I had a job as a runner for a TV company. My bosses suggested I work somewhere like the Ivy – I did, and stayed there for ten years and have been in hospitality ever since. Plus, I genuinely love to look after people.
What drew you to the role of Club Director at Café Royal?
The potential. I had worked in luxury restaurants, members’ clubs and finally hotels, so this was a culmination of all three experiences. And Café Royal was the first members’ club I had seen within a five-star hotel.
What plans do you have for the club?
I could write an essay on this topic, but I want to develop the club, continue to curate inspiring events, develop the membership, improve the service, and develop an art programme. Also, I would like to go back to the basics of great service and a human touch. I think venues, clubs, and bars are too driven by PR and marketing – so much so that you often walk into a place that feels like a marketing exercise. I believe this trend will go full circle and people will eventually crave discovering a place when they visit it, rather than walk in with preconceptions of places they have read about online.
What separates the club and Hotel Café Royal from other establishments in London?
We are situated in a five-star hotel, with all the facilities and benefits that come along with an establishment of that calibre.
Stowe not only knows his clientele, but he also has strong relationships with them. Having worked in the industry for over fifteen years, he has grown to charm the lot. “I want you to leave here thinking ‘that was a nice hour’ and I want you to feel like you’ve known me for ten years; that’s the goal.” And in closing our conversation, I have. Just like that, he’s immediately off, tending to one guest and then another, simultaneously conducting the chain of command below. Nigel Stowe is clearly a man on the move.
Words by Shelby Welinder