Day in the Life: Omar Ismail, manager of The Balmoral's Palm Court

Omar Ismail recently appeared in the documentary series, Channel 5’s Inside the Balmoral

Published 28th Jun 2021
Updated 28 th Jun 2021


I wake up and immediately take some time for my well-being, say a prayer, think about the day ahead and count my blessings. I’ll then have a large and healthy breakfast, usually a bowl of muesli topped with banana, apple, pomegranate, dates and grapes with Greek yogurt and honey. On weekdays I’ll have a cup of my mother’s Indian-style loose leaf tea cooked on the stove but on weekends I have to reach for the coffee to give myself a little extra energy. If I have enough time and it’s a nice day I always try to get outside before getting ready for work.


On the bus I take the time to listen to a motivational meditation. I like to get into work early to prepare for the day ahead. When I arrive I get into my ‘superhero’ Palm Court uniform and immediately feel ready to welcome guests and deliver the world renowned hospitality I am so passionate about. Then it is the day-to-day – looking at the table plan, speaking to the chefs and checking if we need to do anything particularly special for any of our guests. For example, today a gentleman requested a single red rose to be on the table when his wife arrived, to celebrate their anniversary, so we arranged this.


We always do a daily staff meeting ahead of our Afternoon Tea guests arriving. We have a newly expanded tea menu offering 88 different teas. Each has a story to tell and each day we select a tea and talk it through as a team. Today we shared the ‘cloud tea’ story which is a personal favorite. It’s is grown in the Indian state of Meghalaya, which translates to ‘cloud’ and it is said that the clouds touch the tea as it grows. Storytelling is a big part of the team’s day and everyone has their favorite teas and stories to recommend.


I usually grab a quick veggie sandwich for lunch and call home before heading back to check in on the guests and talk them through the teas they are trying. It’s really important to me to make sure everyone leaves feeling like they have had a great and personal experience. Interacting and getting to know people is my passion so I always feel like I have had a good day when I get to know our guests and can give them an incredible experience.


I spend some time getting things prepared for the next day, then catch the bus home. I always listen to some Classic FM on the bus, after a busy day it’s the perfect way to unwind. My wife and I take turns cooking dinner but we usually have something healthy like dahl and then watch some television together. I then make some calls to family and friends to check in on them and catch up.

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Time to go to bed so I can start my routine again in the morning.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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