Olivia Byrne is London’s youngest hotelier and received the Best Professional Success prize for her work at Eccleston Square Hotel at the Worldwide Hospitality Awards 2016.
Olivia was back in Switzerland for a few days and as there are some opportunities in life that should not be missed, we organised a small express meeting at the Mandarin Oriental.
Since I met her, Olivia Byrne celebrated her 29th birthday. She is as pretty as she is charming. Her friendliness and candour match her talent and expertise.
After successfully completing EHL (École hôtelière de Lausanne), Olivia Byrne, who is of French and English origin, became the Director of Eccleston Square Hotel.
The charming, trendsetting boutique hotel in the heart of London is owned by her Family and she manages it together with her younger brother.
The Eccleston Square Hotel features 37 rooms. It was entirely redesigned and decorated by Olivia and her brother. The place is luxurious and like a cocoon with the typical English touch but ultra modern. It offers top-notch technology, especially home automation (très chic, n’est-ce pas?).
To give you an example: the glass doors of the luxurious bathrooms become opaque on demand, the mirror transforms into a television while you take your well deserved bath, an iPad serves as concierge… in short, everything is in the detail. Even the beds are adjustable. They are made by a great Swedish brand (nope, not Ikea) and of obvious value. Your perfect partner for a deep, relaxing snooze!
This attention to detail reflects also in Olivia’s appearance: elegant and stylish, yet young and fresh, despite the huge responsibility she has taken on. She is the image of the hotel that she cherishes and co-manages with her brother. Everything the Eccleston Square Hotel stands for Olivia herself is the perfect ambassador of. A role that suits her very well I must say!
Living only two steps from the hotel, Olivia Byrne hardly ever leaves her computer. As a young woman of her time, she runs her own a blog, The London Guide, where she proposes London tips for her clients. Favourite restaurants, bars, events, shops… Olivia likes to share her insider knowledge.
Constant connectivity is the sign of our time and so, at Eccleston Square Hotel, mobiles with internet access and unlimited calls to 5 European destinations are provided for clients so they may explore the city without the worry of roaming costs (what a great idea!!). All these services are, of course, all-inclusive. Giving the Eccleston Square and edge over the competition.
Curious by nature, Olivia meets me at the Mandarin Oriental. Although this would not necessarily be her choice for accommodation, because the place is very business oriented and a little too classic for her taste (she preferred the small and charming Eastwest in Les Pâquis for her short stay in Geneva), she is keen to visit, discover and rediscover this luxurious hotel.
We spoke about everything and nothing, discovered each other bit by bit and Olivia answered all my questions. Now you can discover her for yourself. Here the transcript of our interview:
The “Portrait” question: Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences? I already know a little bit about you but for our readers – Who is Olivia Byrne? Where do you come from? Who do you want to become?
Who is Olivia Byrne? Well… my mother is French, my father English. I was born in Paris and moved to England when I was 10. My parents then decided to send me to boarding school in Switzerland when I was 13. After that I studied at École hôtelière de Lausanne that provided me with useful hotel and business training, perfect for what I am doing now. I am a passionate hotelier, who loves to be in an international environment. Although I enjoy working in London, I call Switzerland my home!
The “WTF” question: You are today director of a hotel in one of the most charming cities in Europe (in my opinion), and therefore, at your young age, an accomplished businesswoman. Let’s be honest, to succeed in hospitality, it must be a true vocation for you. Can you tell us a little more?
Yes it was quite a challenge! I was 23 when we opened the hotel and still had everything to learn. I had to grow up fast and learn very quickly. It was a bit of a shock at first, and it still is challenging today. However, I am very lucky to do something that I love and am passionate about. Managing a business is actually very creative, and you are always looking to innovate, improve and solve problems.
The “Girl Contest” question: This column – so far – shines the light mainly on female entrepreneurs. Can you tell me what makes your strength as a woman in your field?
I believe women bring organization and are generally quite conscientious in hospitality. For example, I can see it when I compare myself to my brother. He is really good at negotiating and managing the maintenance side of the building (which I am not so good at). I am rather the communicator and organizer in the business. I manage and encourage the team to be the best they can be.
The “Who runs the world?” question: Who are your female or male icons, these people, these men and women who inspire you and who make you want to go on, continue or even change for the better?
I look up to my parents. They are both entrepreneurs and have taught me the value of hard work. They also taught me to never give up and fight for what you have. They motivate me every day to work harder and inspire me to give my best.
The “I have a dream” question: I must say Bravo! What a challenge to take on for someone so young. Yet, you did it and above all, you are succeeding. 5 years later you are still going strong and have, I am quite sure of it, lots of ideas. Tell us, what are your plans for the future, your dreams?
Well, I love what I do, so I hope to continue learning and improving. Managing a hotel is quite complex and things change all the time. You are not only dealing with clients, you are managing your website, social media, sales and marketing. I even write my own blog called “London Guide”. I hope that I will be able to open a second hotel one day and continue to innovate within the hospitality industry.
The “Geneva Hotspot” question: Today we are here at Mandarin Oriental. Beyond that, what are your two favourites restaurants in Geneva and London (for our travellers)?
To be honest I am not so familiar with Geneva, I know Lausanne much better. For example, these past few days I’ve been having lunch at Globus and I think its fantastic. I wish I could have this near the hotel in London! I love their Asian stand, very interesting flavours. In London, there are so many places to explore although I tend to hang out more locally. I spend a lot of time around Sloane Square and the King’s Road. I definitely recommend walking down Elizabeth Street that is only a 5 minutes’ walk from Eccleston Square Hotel. There you will find some fab coffee and pastry shops, British gastro pubs and more interesting boutiques.
The “Last Supper” question: It is the last day of your life, last meal, what is your choice?
Oh, that’s a tough question! I have to say that one of my favourite dishes is “la chasse” (game). I particularly like the way they make it in Switzerland with red cabbage, Spätzli etc. I come always back to Switzerland in October especially to eat this dish!
For more information about Olivia Byrne and her charming, super high-tech establishment, the Eccleston Square Hotel in London, check out the hotel’s website and follow their social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter