It is not every day that you walk into a luxury hotel, and there is someone permanently stationed in the lobby that can make your shoes fit for walking the red carpet.
At either the beautifully renovated Grade-II listed London Marriott in Park Lane or the St.Pancras Renaissance in King’s Cross, you will find Tom Beecroft, or one of his colleagues, providing a rare personal shoe shining service. He works under the name of Jaunty Flâneur, where Jaunty means “expressing a lively confident manner”, whilst Flâneur is defined as “a gentleman who saunters around observing society”. In real terms, this translates as someone who has the means to enjoy life, and looks after the finer things that they have acquired.
The business was started around a year and a half ago by Tom himself, a former consultant of Deutsche Bank who became fed up with working in the City. A well-spoken individual from Surrey, he wanted to go into a social business, and he definitely picked the right career. Tom describes it as a “gentleman’s indulgence” or a “modern-day valet” – it’s a place where you can sit back and relax in a comfortable velvet armchair in elegant surroundings for 20 minutes with a whisky in hand, have a good chat, and watch your footwear being returned to its former glory and a mirror-like state.
With both feet up on the two metal stirrups, it’s a fascinating process to watch. He uses a Renovateur cream and beeswax polish from France that are full of lots of natural ingredients, meaning that they are not harmful to human or leather skin. Interspersed by a frantic rubbing of cloths, both are massaged into the shoe in a series of layers, using only his expert technique which guides the swirling action of his bare hands. A bigger focus is placed on the toe area as this is one of the main areas that other people see when looking at what lies at the base of your trousers. The result is astonishing, and it’s surprising that this highly professional and sparking result can be achieved in so little time.
When Tom is not shining the shoes of guests (between 12:00 and 19:00 on weekdays), the team are working on the several pairs that have been delivered into the hotel’s concierge, or on those that have been collected from his several other clients such as Barristers’ Chambers. Therefore, they are constantly busy even when the chair is empty – a clever business model.
Tom Beecroft really is a shining star, not only because of what he does, but how he does it. The 20-minute Jaunty Flâneur experience is priced from £9, and room rates at London Marriott Hotel Park Lane start from £399 inc. VAT.
London Marriott Hotel Park Lane can be found at 140 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 7AA.