My name is Hervé Guyat, owner of the New Steine Hotel & Bistro, and Gulliver’s Hotel.
The aim of this blog is to help our customer’s experience whilst in Brighton by sharing my passion of food, restaurants, Art Galleries, Theatre and Fringe performances, bars & Clubs and any event worth visiting whilst in Brighton. As you will see below I have gained a lot of experience throughout my working life.
I left my hometown of Biarritz in the South of France 24 years ago to start a career in the prestigious Bond Street and Sloane Street working for Valentino and Cacharel.
I guess this is where I got my first eye for details and beauty. I was first employed as sales assistant but was soon promoted to buyer and boutique manager for the Sloane Street store. This involved creating the ambiance, helping with window dressing and the overall appearance of the Boutique. We wanted to create a glamorous and inventive look. I was spending my entire time making ladies and men feel good in our collections, they needed to be surrounded by a décor to match.
In 1990 I left the fashion world and moved to the hotel business.
‘’Boutique hotels’’ was not a very well known term back then. They were called Town House hotels in London. I first worked at the Abbey court Hotel in Pembridge Gardens, part of the trendy Notting Hill Gate area. The hotel was mainly used by fashionistas and designers such as John Galliano. It was all about being quirky and glamorous looking.
When designing the hotel, we looked for English charm mixing Laura Ashley and New England. We used original oil paintings, Villeroy & Boch china , antique furniture and bibelots in different areas, including bedrooms, creating an exclusive home from home.
We did not have a reception desk, instead we would sit down with guests to fill in their registration cards on comfortable Chesterfield sofas offering a personal butler service.
We wanted to differ from the large four and five star hotels, making each client feel special and unique.
After a few years in town house hotels, such as 57 Pont Street in Knightsbridge, I decided to work for the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge. I was intrigued with English private members’ clubs as we do not have those in France. Working for famous UK institutions such as the Royal Thames, I was fascinated by the way these establishments were being run. Some staircases or bars weren’t allowed to be used by women. Members of the Royal family came in; I was used to Diana coming into Valentino as well as the Duchess of Kent but no others. I learnt to greet customers in a more formal way, which was a great asset to my hospitality skills.
After a year it was time for me to hit the larger 4 and 5 star hotels in central London starting with Harrington Hall and the Westbury Hotel in Conduit Street, Mayfair. This is where I learned how to deal with larger amount and different type of guests including business customers. Having different departments, a restaurant, gym, spa, beauty rooms and conference facilities was all new to me.
In the evening I was hosting the famous Pelican Restaurant and Brasserie on Saint Martin’s Lane. I used to go to work at the Pelican as one would go to his favourite hobby. Our clients were west end musical, theatre or opera performers and their followers. I learned about the food and drink trade as well as the nightlife clientele.
My last job was the opening of the Hyde Park Ryan Hotel. This was to be the flag ship hotel of Irish company, Ryan Hotels. I was employed as room division manager. The position included taking part in the full refurbishment of the 200 guests’ bedrooms as well as all the public areas: the bar, restaurant, conference facilities and a gym. It helped me understand how to design a room in a practical way with all the guests’ requirements.
After the Hyde Park Ryan, I moved to Brighton eleven years ago to put all my expertise into opening my own Boutique Hotel, New Steine Hotel. The stylish but very personal décor, with a French hint, I used during the interior designing of all three properties. I also added a warm welcome and some quirky entertainment. Art exhibitions, cabaret nights and our popular Supper Club dinners for which New Steine Hotel & Bistro is famous and unique amongst the city’s boutique hotels complemented by an excellent restaurant for evening dining. People did not really know about boutique hotels in 2000 and I was one of the first in Brighton, along with Blanche House and Hotel Pelliroco, to offer something different.
In 2003 neighbouring hotel, Gulliver’s, came up for sale and it made sense to grab the opportunity to buy it. In 2007 I was to buy the final piece to the puzzle, the Trouville. This enabled me to join the two hotels to make the New Steine Hotel & Bistro as it is today. I moved Gulliver’s where the New Steine was, offering a simpler service with no compromise on style or standard including our famous award winning Sussex Breakfast. Finally, in April 2009, restless Hervé was to launch his events company - Brighton Sussex Events.
This was to complement our concierge service for both hotels as well as organising events. I wanted to share my passion for Sussex by offering tours of the country side including walks on the south downs, authentic Sussex villages like Alfriston, vineyard tours and local food. I thought this would definitely enhance our boutique hotel experience.
Another important part of what the New Steine offers includes two attractive meeting rooms, which can be used by up to 50 people. These also convert into private dining rooms, ideal for parties, weddings and other events. With my wide experience in all aspect of the hospitality industry, I have always wanted to offer all the services you would expect from a Boutique hotel. I hope I have succeeded.
I have done a lot of research into what is a boutique hotel and used both my knowledge gained working in London as well as my experience staying in stylish hotels all over the world. My partner, who also works in the hospitality industry as an events manager, and I, try to go away as often as possible always choosing our hotels very carefully. We like to try new concepts or trendy Boutique hotels such as the D2 in Chiang Mai or the Rocky Resort in Ko Samui where the owner chose every piece of antique herself. We also like some of the classics such as the Danieli in Venice or the Carlton in Cannes.
When I designed the New Steine in 2007 I took a step back from all the above and with my vision, I tried to create a boutique hotel with my own inspiration.
I had a beautiful Georgian property to play with and that was the start of mixing an old 1850’s building with some modern features including the red pillars as you come in or the modern Dutch crystal chandeliers everywhere in the public areas. My second commitment to create a boutique hotel was to offer excellent food, 24 hours a day with our room service menu, and that is why we chose to use local products in everything from breakfast to dinner.
Another important element was to exhibit local artists in both our restaurants. The hotel lives with Brighton and what is happening, so during the Brighton Fringe festival we will have cabaret shows. During the Food Festival we put on our Supper Club. We like our guests to feel in tune with what is going on in Brighton. Our reception and concierge service is open 24 hours offering full local knowledge. I hope we have succeeded and followed our mission statement which is
Combining, Style, Comfort, Art, Food, Local Produce and Impeccable Service at Affordable Prices