Inside the Hilton Park Lane – a photo essay | UK news – Lifotravel

Hosting more than 200,000 guests a year, the Hilton hotel on Park Lane is one of London’s landmarks. It was here in 1967 that the Beatles met their guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A decade later, two people lost their lives and many more were injured when the Hilton was rocked by an IRA bomb, and in 2012, the International Olympic Committee set up residence during the London Games. The first skyscraper hotel to be built in the capital, it will celebrate 60 eventful years this coming April.

Behind the £1,500-a-night rooms and extravagant banquets is a small army of staff who keep the vast operation going.

The Hilton on Park Lane, London, celebrates 60 eventful years in April.
Guests can pay up to £1,500 a night for a room.
The hotel hosts more than 200,000 guests a year.

Every morning, the operation springs into action with a meeting between the Hilton’s most senior staff, chaired by Matthew Mullan, the general manager. They begin with updates on the number of guests staying, discuss any issues and share feedback.

Mathew Mullan, the general manager of the Hilton.

Mullan has worked at the Hilton for almost 35 years, having helped to run hotels all across the world, including in Egypt, Barbados, Malta and Abu Dhabi. But he started in the hotel business completely by chance. “It was an accident, more than anything else,” Mullan says. “I had no idea what I wanted to do but I started working in food and beverage and then joined the company as a trainee manager. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

One particular memory that stands out for Mullan is hosting a US presidential visit in Belfast. “It was Bill Clinton’s last international trip before he left office,” he recalls. “He just carries this fabulous aura around him, and when he walked into the lobby of the hotel, the whole place went silent.”

Pastry chefs Giulia and Peta make fresh cakes.
Freshly made cakes.
The hotel once made speciality deserts for Bill Clinton during his stay.

During his stay, Clinton was specific about what he wanted for dessert. “Clinton wanted blueberry cheesecake, so we went over the top with it and every day it was replaced.”

Staff at the launderette under the hotel
The hotel runs on a small army of staff.
Hotel housekeeping prepare one of the rooms.
Ironing trousers at the launderette.
Housekeeping inspect bed linen.

Natalila Brodiak has been working in events at the Hilton for more than a year, alongside her daugher-in-law, also called Natalila. Having moved to the UK from Ukraine in 2000, Brodiak still has family at home whom she supports, including her parents and her eldest son. On her uniform, she wears a Ukrainian flag pin. “I’m proud of my country, and I wear this pin to show support,” Brodiak says. “It’s very important to me.”

Natalila and her daughter in law of the same name Natalia
The banquet hall has an event most days, from weddings to conferences and needs to be set up differently for each event.
Staff polish the cutlery and set up the tables

Also on the events team is Filipe Seabra, who at 79 is one of the Hilton’s longest-serving staff members, having worked at the hotel since 1967. Born in Portugal, Seabra moved to the UK in the 1960s and began his career at the Four Seasons hotel. “This is my life. Here, Hilton is my life. The company, the people I work with, this is what I love,” Seabra says. “The people I work with are the most friendly I’ve come across, and it really is a team effort to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Filipe Seabra, 79, has been working for the Hilton hotel since 1967 after moving to the UK in the 1060s.

Roy Firth, who has been a doorman here for about 11 years, says the highlights for him are the people he has met and worked with.

Roy Firth, a doorman at the Hilton.

“I don’t feel I could have had such amazing experiences anywhere else,” Firth says. “Moments in my career, such as meeting the Dalai Lama, hosting the Olympic committee and celebrating the diamond and platinum jubilee. I really do feel blessed to have shared in this.

“Our hotel has such a wealth of history and I am extremely proud to be a part of that. To have so many positive experiences with all those that I have met from all walks of life is an amazing bonus.”

Marc Hadiman, the head chef at the Hilton’s Galvin at Windows restaurant.
Bar staff prepare cocktails at Galvin at Windows.
Staff shortages are a big problem at Galvin at Windows.
Jean-Charles Tremorin, the restaurant’s pastry chef.

On the 28th floor, the restaurant Galvin at Windows offers a panoramic view of the London skyline. Its general manager, Peter Avis, began his career in hospitality as a dishwasher in Miami at only 17, having moved to the US from his home town of Liverpool.

“I didn’t have any formal education, and I was told by my school that I should go and get a job with the council and sweep the streets,” Avis says. “But when I was 17, my sister got a modelling contract in Miami, and I got the chance to go out there with her for three weeks and decided to stay there.”

Peter Avis arrived at the Hilton from Liverpool via Miami.

From there, Avis worked at an array of hotels and restaurants before taking up his role at Windows in 2020. His biggest challenge since then has been the current staff shortage – experienced hospitality workers have been in short supply since European workers went home during the coronavirus pandemic and were discouraged from returning by Brexit.

“There’s a hole in the workforce, and there is a crisis in hospitality recruitment,” Avis says. “But we’ve been developing opportunities to bring in young people who may have otherwise not had the chance to work in our industry, such as those with disabilities, not because it’s the nice thing to do but because it’s the right thing to do.”

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