Greeting guests with a doff of his cap and a friendly smile outside the famous five-star hotel, Graham knows Knightsbridge inside out
Meet… Graham Oastler, Mandarin Oriental doorman
How long have you been a doorman at the Mandarin Oriental hotel and what originally attracted you to the position?
I have been here just over a year and a half. Prior to this I had worked at three hotels and was gradually working my way into Knightsbridge as it’s the place to be. I think the hotel itself speaks volumes, having five stars and being one of the best luxury hotels in London. I had spoken to a few concierges that I had worked with in the past and they all said it was the number one hotel in Knightsbridge and that’s what really attracted me to the position.
What did you do before working at the Mandarin?
Before getting into the hotel industry, I was a chauffeur for 20 years. I started the application process of becoming a London black-cab driver, and I had about a year left when I fell off my bike and broke my arm. I thought that I could no longer pursue it, so instead I decided to apply for doorman roles at hotels in London.
Can you describe your role and what a typical day would be like for you?
A typical day is organising cars and taxis for airport transfers, talking to guests who want to know restaurant recommendations and places of interest to visit in Knightsbridge and around London. In general, I help to organise people’s days.
What do you like most about your job?
Meeting different people from every walk of life you can imagine, from royalty to celebrities to wonderful pets.
What do you like most about Knightsbridge?
Aside from the beautiful architecture, I love the vibe of the area. It is constantly busy. I have got to know many interesting people, for instance from the French and Iraqi embassies and the Pavilion Club next door to the Mandarin.
What makes the Mandarin Oriental special during the festive season?
I think one of the main things that makes the Mandarin so special at this time of year is how the local community comes together to celebrate this festive season. The “Wishing Tree” takes centre stage this year, with funds going to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation to help make critically ill children’s wishes come true. What I think is particularly amazing is that the ornaments were created by the local community of luxury boutiques, as well as school children, and are being sold at auction in aid of the foundation.
Do you get stopped for photos often? What do people tend to ask you?
I probably get asked an average of 20 times a day for a photo, but more in the summer with the increase in tourism. The main things people ask me are questions about bus routes, restaurants and shop recommendations.
Aside from the Mandarin Oriental, what are some of your favourite places in Knightsbridge? Can you recommend any hidden gems?
I have countless favourite places in Knightsbridge. Next door is the Pavilion Club, a very glamorous private members’ club with menus designed by Tom Kerridge. It’s a great venue for a party. There’s The Grenadier on Wilton Row tucked away down a cobbled mews. It’s one of my favourite pubs in London. It’s a quintessential British pub; quaint and a good selection of ales. Also, I would recommend Patara, a Thai restaurant on Beauchamp Place. The food is delicious and the service is always excellent.
Catch Graham at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA