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Inspiring Inclusion: Boutique Hotelier Gathers 100 + Women in London

On International Women’s Day 2024, Boutique Hotelier’s Women in Hotels brunch took place at the magnificent art’otel London Battersea Power Station.

Just over a year after the opening of art’otel’s first London outpost, General Manager, Jennifer McCabe, and her team welcomed the group of 100+ female hoteliers to celebrate their achievements. Everyone was thrilled to be spending International Women’s Day in such fun and creative surroundings. 

women in hospitality london

"It was an honour to be chosen to host the second Boutique Hotelier IWD event at art’otel London Battersea.  It’s been such an exciting hotel to open and operate and to have the chance to showcase it to some of the industry’s most influential leaders was a wonderful opportunity,"  Jennifer McCabe​​​​, General Manager, art'otel London Battersea Power Station tells us.

After a delicious brunch, attendees took their seats for the much-anticipated panel discussion moderated by Zoe Monk, Senior Editor, Boutique Hotelier. Speakers included:

Fiona Moores, Group Operations Director, The Pig Hotels

Tessa Gorman, Managing Director, Rosewood London

Fjona Hill, Co-Founder, Hampton Manor

Catherine Morris, Managing Director, Tradelinens

(L to R) Catherine Morris - Tradelinens, Fiona Moores - The Pig Hotels, Tessa Gorman - Rosewood London, Fjona Hill, Hampton Manor
(L to R) Catherine Morris - Tradelinens, Fiona Moores - The Pig Hotels, Tessa Gorman - Rosewood London, Fjona Hill, Hampton Manor

An Event designed to “Inspire Inclusion” 

The 2024 International Women’s Day theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion.’ According to the IWD website, "When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world". 

The women-only brunch provided a safe space for panellists to share their journeys  and empower those in the early stages of their hospitality career. The audience learned how they climbed the ladder and navigated roles traditionally occupied by men. 

Breaking the Mould

Even though women represent 51% of the workforce in the hospitality industry, only 30% of those in leadership positions are women. 

Tessa found that earlier on in her hospitality career, there were few opportunities for women and that it was so competitive. Nowadays, it’s encouraging that women strive to help each other more. Being part of a network provided a sense of empowerment and enabled her to move forward. Fiona revealed that there is a greater level of acceptance today and support from some good male mentors has meant the industry is more open now. Catherine talked about how women are able to be more authentic now about their struggles. The general feeling was that the panellists are more comfortable at this stage in their careers to challenge their male peers.


Fiona admitted that navigating childcare still presents a problem, and she would have found it more difficult if she hadn’t reached a certain level in her career before having children. Tessa who began her first GM role when her son was only 3 months old, praised the culture at Rosewood where CEO, Sonia Cheng leads by example as a mother of four. 

Leadership Qualities

Fjona spoke about the importance of emotional intelligence as a vital quality of leadership. Other takeaways include the ability to empathise and be more vulnerable which are also seen as positive leadership qualities. 

Fiona feels as though her voice is heard at The Pig Hotels where over 50% of senior management are women. As a small independent hotel, Fjona was proud to say that Hampton Manor’s senior leadership team now consists of 50% women too. Tessa admitted that any minority is a positive for decision making. 

It was unanimously agreed that having women in leadership positions makes better business sense. However, Fiona said it is still difficult to find mentors and that she would love to see a formal mentorship programme in place.

5 Ways to Elevate Female Talent

  1. Provide a platform for women to be able to get involved in public speaking in order to have their voices heard as the more we speak up, and actively contribute to male dominated fields, the more we can change the preconceived notion of women in power. 

  2. Better signposting to mentorship schemes so that women know how and where to access them. 

  3. Tessa talked about imposter syndrome and how women can lift each other up through mentoring. Women have the tendency to wait to be put forward but sometimes they need to create these opportunities for themselves.

  4. Prioritising work life balance over productivity and results.

  5. More flexibility in the workplace such as a four-day week

Ideal Dinner Party Guests

For a bit of fun, the panellists were asked who they would like to invite to a dinner party. Answers ranged from Alex Polizzi to Taylor Swift. Other notable mentions were Michelin-starred chef, Angela Hartnett, Dame Deborah James and comedienne, Victoria Wood.

Legal Advice Impacting Women and the Industry as a Whole

Louise Attrup, Employment Partner at Debenhams Ottoway shared her vast knowledge about changes that are expected to come into effect next month. They includes updates to sexual harassment legislation, as well as changes to flexible working regulations. Louise also urged hoteliers to think about the practical issues reflecting changes in society before they face a situation.

Zoe Monk – Boutique Hotelier, Louise Attrup - Debenhams Ottoway
Zoe Monk, Boutique Hotelier and Louise Attrup, Debenhams Ottoway

We were then treated to a glass of Gusbourne sparkling wine to toast the 2024 ‘Women in Hotels’ list. before Natalie Campbell, CEO of BELU, took to the stage to stress the importance of driving changes, such as transparency of salaries on job adverts to create a truly inclusive business.

A huge thank you to all the inspiring women for sharing their challenges and their wins. Although a huge amount of progress has been made since the first International Women’s Day in 1911, what is for certain is that in order to create long-lasting change, we need to continue this conversation for as long as it takes.

“Coming together to celebrate the achievements of women in the UK hotel sector was incredibly inspiring and I’m delighted that Elegant Hotel Collection supported as a sponsor. As a luxury soft brand, we place the hotelier at the heart of everything we do. Supporting the Women in Hotels event has been a true privilege, and we look forward to doing more to champion the UK’s thriving hospitality industry in 2024 and beyond.” Catt McLeod from Elegant Hotel Collection.

“A great event connecting powerful women in our business. It was fantastic to meet so many female hoteliers, owning and/or operating their hotels.  Women are pushing through glass ceilings in what was once male-dominated industry to become heads of department, general managers, CEOs and founders.” Kayley van der Velde, representing Karma Design.

Maritsa Samonas is the head of Business Development at BlomaH, which provides innovative solutions for product sourcing, supplier management, and project coordination. Maritsa is also head of Community Development at Netwomen who strive to help women create a sustainable future for themselves and organisations to elevate & retain talent to bridge the gender and ethnicity gap.

1 Comment

Great insights Maritsa. Thanks for sharing.

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