Walpole: In a world where we’re always available, how do you separate your personal time from your work time?
Andrew McPherson: I strongly believe that the key is to enjoy the career you choose. If you are passionate about your job, you won’t mind if work occasionally spills into your personal time. I started my career in hospitality during my teenage years and I completely fell in love with the industry. Shortly after, I dreamed of one day working as a general manager at one of the UK’s most luxurious hotels.
I am very proud that my dream became a reality and I am now the General Manager at distinguished Scottish hotel, The Balmoral. In the 24-hour world of hotels, it is truly a privilege to be able to spend my time in a hotel I have long admired not only for its architecture, history, and incredible restaurants and bars, but also for the world class hospitality it delivers every day.
The walls of The Balmoral hold over a century of stories. Every day, I feel like I discover a new fact or I find out more about a guest's fond memories from our hotel. It is wonderful to see how many people hold a special place in their heart for this hotel, and it is an honour to discover more about its history.
What’s one thing you do after the work day to help you unwind?
I open a nice bottle of wine, preferably a red, and I unwind by cooking a delicious dinner with my wife. I really enjoy cooking – it is not a chore for me. You have to concentrate on the job at hand so it is a wonderfully mindful way to relax.
I am a big fan of rustic French food and I get most of my inspiration from The Balmoral's restaurant, Brasserie Prince. Stefano, our wonderful Head Chef, has told me all about how to create his delicious dish of roast lamb loins and belly with hazelnut crust, smoked mash and wild mushrooms, which is one of my favourite dishes on the menu. I must admit, my attempt isn’t quite on a par with Stefano’s, but it is very enjoyable to try and recreate his dishes at home.
I must also give a mention to my wife’s delicious lasagna. It is our comfort food and goes perfectly with a glass of red.
What activity do you do in your time away from the office that helps you relax and recentre after a stressful week?
I have only recently taken on the role of General Manager at The Balmoral, but I am looking forward to warmer weather when I can get back to my favourite hobby of sailing. The Firth of Forth offers some great waters with challenging winds, interesting harbours and great camaraderie between the local clubs. It will definitely be my go-to spot come summer.
I am also very much looking forward to soon sporting a beekeeper's suit and heading to our rooftop at The Balmoral, where our wonderful apiary is located. At our fine-dining restaurant, Number One, I tried the delicious honey dessert, which is created using honey harvested in our apiary. Ever since, I wanted to get more involved with beekeeping, and I will be taking up beekeeping as soon as I am able to.
What’s something you’ve read, listened to or seen in your spare time that’s helped you at work?
The wonderful thing about the hospitality industry is that research can be great fun! I recently had the opportunity to go on a virtual showround of the huge luxury cruise liner, Icon of the Seas, which was a truly spectacular experience.
I also experience a lot within the hotel each day. Recently, I had the privilege of sampling some of The Macallan’s rarest whiskies at SCOTCH, our world-class whisky bar with a selection of over 500 whiskies. Our whisky ambassadors are extremely knowledgeable and it is wonderful to learn more from them about our marvellous collection.
Many industry books are very enjoyable reads, too. I recently read Henry Jeffrey’s Empire of Booze which is all about true stories of how the world’s most renowned drinks came to be.
After home and the office, where’s your favourite third space?
Being a huge foodie, I spend my weekends in the beautiful neighbourhood of Stockbridge in Edinburgh. There is an incredible food market on a Sunday, which features artisanal goods from local producers. It is definitely my happy place and somewhere I go to relax and sample some delicious Scottish food. Just across the road, you can also find I.J.Mellis cheesemongers, an incredible shop filled with artisan cheese. We actually serve their cheese at The Balmoral so it is always great to go there for a visit.
On Sunday night, how do you prepare yourself for the week ahead?
My key ritual on a Sunday is to plan for the week ahead and to work through the tasks which I need to complete. My to-do list is detailed and well planned, which allows me to have a clear view of the week, to know where the pressure points are and what the team can do to help. Once I have finished my list, I can enjoy some leisure time.
Best reason you've had to turn your out of office on recently?
The out of office is never on in the world of 24-hour hotels. Even while sailing a breathtaking Corfu last September, I would shield my eyes from the sunlight to check my phone at all times. It is also hard to completely switch off when it comes to something you are very passionate about. Even when out at sea with the distraction of sunshine and good food, I still remain connected to The Balmoral – it's so important to me.
The OUT OF OFFICE hotlist
Your go-to out of office outfit: Jeans and a T-shirt (and hopefully a beekeeper suit soon, too!)
Your happy place anywhere in the world: Enjoying a Sunday roast by a roaring fire at any lovely British pub.
Your favourite bar or restaurant: Panda & Sons in Edinburgh, they do the best Negroni!
Something cultural or sporting you booked recently that you'd recommend: ABBA Voyage - it is neither cultural nor sporting but everyone should do it! An incredible experience.
Something you've listened to or read recently that you'd recommend and why: One Life with Anthony Hopkins, it is an incredible film.
A hobby you'd like to cultivate: If you didn’t know already, beekeeping…
A luxury that’s actually a necessity: Vintage Champagne.
Best luxury under £25: an indulgent champagne cocktail at The Balmoral's Bar Prince.
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