The Wordrobe’s Sophie Ritchie talks tipples and raising the bar for hospitality with Giovanni Spezziga, The Coral Room’s General Manager at the Bloomsbury hotel
With over 20 years’ experience working in food and beverage, Italian born Giovanni Spezziaga’s creativity and passion for the hospitality industry has allowed him to work in some of the finest establishments across Europe.
We payed a visit to The Coral Room in Bloomsbury to meet with Gio in the bright and beautifully spacious bar to find out more about his career, inspirations and plans for the newly opened venue…
How did you get into the industry?
Well, I started a long time ago. I was really young – it was 20 years ago. I started working in a local coffee shop with my grandmother. I was about 12 – we used to live in the same building.
I’d go in on my days off. It never felt like work, more just having fun with her. From that point on, I enjoyed the atmosphere and meeting guests and locals so much that I fell in love with the industry.
Tell us more about your career background
Well, I actually studied as an accountant, but it wasn’t for me. I spent a summer working at a high profile restaurant in Sardinia – it was a beautiful place, full of beautiful people. I returned and started from scratch, as a waiter, and ended up spending seven years there. Being young, I really enjoyed it!
I then moved to Switzerland for a few years to study hotel management and worked at very prestigious members clubs. I am very selective about where I work – I only want to work in the best places.
After that, I moved to London to study English and landed a bartending job at Rockwell Bar in The Trafalgar Hotel in 1999. It was an amazing experience. It was a great time to be working with so many talented people – they made my days easy.
I then moved to One Aldwych before working at W Hotel. I shifted a lot every few years before going on to Scarfes Bar as Bar Manager.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Well, my background is to work with a venue that’s new or launching for the first time – for me it’s great to see a place come alive. An empty room is a blank canvas! It’s challenging but a beautiful experience.
My favourite part is the final two weeks before opening, because that’s when everything comes together. To me, it’s like Christmas and opening a present. We work very closely with the team to make sure everything is exceptional. It’s also a beautiful feeling when the first guests come to the door.
Do you have any favourite bars?
I do love the Coral Room! Also Gibson, The Connaught… it depends on where you are, what your mood is! You can try anything in London.
There’s a massive community of bar managers in the city – we all know and respect each other, it’s a great circle of friends to have.
What does hospitality mean to you?
Hospitality is being welcoming. Be genuine, be honest. Make sure your guests have a good time and that they’re smiling. Don’t be robotic! Show your personality.
Whats’s next on the cards?
For now, I am focusing on The Coral Room. But later down the line, in a few years, my next goal is to be a hotel manger or GM.
What’s your favourite midnight snack?
Oh… it will have to be chocolate!
Make it happen
Where: The Coral Room 16-22 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3NN
Bookings: Click herehere to make a reservation
Words by Sophie Ritchie