Queen of class and a foodie to boot, Dominique Barbeau is a true friend, super mamma, and French Canadian bombshell.
She’s also the first guest for my new High Tea series, when we met last week at the St. Regis Rome.
It was one of those weeks in Rome where in a single week the weather couldn’t really decide what it wanted to do. Winter warm one day, frigid and rainy the next. Fortunately it was one of the freakishly warm winter afternoons as I made my way to the St. Regis Rome from Termini station.
Being the first tea in this series, I was excited to set a standard with the St. Regis Rome. After visiting my first St. Regis in Atlanta years ago on an industry study trip with my university’s hotel leadership development program, I’d come to know St. Regis for its famous butlers, champagne sabering ritual, and inventing the brunch favorite, the Bloody Mary. It’s High Tea experience was expectedly classic, but exceptional nonetheless.
St. Regis Rome serves Dammann Frères tea, a historic French tea company since 1692. I selected a mild mint tea infused with fruit and Dom a stress-reducing yellow tea. The loose leaf teas are brought to the table already steeping in personal-sized tea pots, and filtered before being served. Savory tea sandwiches came first; crustless two-bite-sized sandwiches filled with traditional cucumber, prosciutto cotto and cheese, or smoked salmon. Unfortunately the sandwiches were a bit underwhelming, but the sweets were pleasantly delicious. Sweet scones with fresh cream and jam, an assortment of macarons and small bite-sized fruit tarts.
From start to finish, we were treated to the professional service that makes the St. Regis famous. Our dedicated server, Pierpaolo, was attentive by not invasive – an important distinction in delivering hospitality. His service was personal and authentic, especially as evidenced by his willingness to listen to our very specific instructions for our Boomerang to add to our Instagram story.
As for standards, I appreciated the standard service techniques that I’d expected to see: Dom was of taken care of first, dishes were cleared on the left and set on the right, our tea cups were constantly being refilled. I asked him about the history of the building to learn a bit more about the interiors, and he was kind enough to leave me with book about the art in the hotel. It was a thoughtful gesture that I can also take home with me and remind me later on of my experience there.
The Afternoon Tea at the St. Regis Rome takes place at the palatial lobby bar, known as the Cælum Lounge. The design is very sophisticated, Italian classic. Rich upholstery, elegant wall panelling, intelligent use of living greenery and floral arrangements breathe life into the space even if there is no one passing through. Framed prints, sculptures, and historic design elements add a lick of character and a backdrop for the kind of professional service one comes to expect at a St. Regis. The historic 19th century building doesn’t show it’s age, especially since the hotel is undergoing renovations and under which the lobby recently finished. I appreciated the various zones, divided into smaller, more intimate lounges for private meetings or a moment of solo repose.
Dominique is foodie and founder Foodies in Rome, private, small-group food tours that introduce curious epicureans to traditional Roman and Italian food and wine. Her walking tours in Rome take visitors from Trastevere to Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona, a journey that’s experienced through their stomachs with abundant tastings and explanations. Originally from Montreal, Dom’s foodie career spans over a decade beginning years ago when she lived in Abruzzo and was instrumental in bringing cupcakes to Italian supermarkets. Her passion for food has been a lifetime endeavor, and she shares this passion with her clients who join her on her tours.
I met Dom about 2 years ago through a mutual friend because she was looking to design some new business cards. We connected on our passion for hospitality and entrepreneurship, and we became fast friends. Nowadays we often find ourselves catching up over libations – a chilled Prosecco or icy Moscow Mule – but this time, with tea in hand, we talked about life in Rome and how far we’ve come. She shares snapshots of her glamorous coffee dates, market visits, and adorable (and fashionable) Mommy-daughter time on her Instagram. So naturally, we did a bit of gramming too.
St. Regis Rome
Address Via Vittorio E. Orlando, 3 – 00185 Rome
Reservations +39 064 7092 736 or online
Afternoon Tea served daily in the Cælum Lounge from 3 – 6pm
Prices various menus from €28 – €38/person – I paid €36/person for a classic Afternoon Tea with a glass of Moet & Chandon champagne
Have you taken tea at the St. Regis Rome? Share your experience in the comments below!