In bed with Patricia Roberts
Checking into a hotel is the biggest rush – and one that Patricia feels daily as the owner and manager of No.1 Pery Square, Limerick’s boutique townhouse hotel.
Mother to three young boys, George (13), William (11), Peter (10), Roberts followed her dream of running a hotel after spending more than 25 years in the challenging hospitality and catering sector. Here, she reflects on her career, work/life balance and – important – which celebrities she’d invite to a pyjama party…
What does your morning routine involve?
It can vary, with work and family demands, but generally a brisk early morning walk in the fresh air to get the day started. I love an early walk, even in the winter. Two mornings a week I attend a pilates class or do some weight work at home. I’ve practiced pilates for over 20 years and it’s an exercise I give much credit to for overall wellness.
Breakfast is important and sets me up well for a productive morning – porridge in winter, granola with fresh berries in summer, and Culbac Farm eggs at the weekend with Rigney’s bacon. I love when the Irish strawberries arrive – it means summer.
How do you balance work with wellness?
It has become easier. I believe that wellness must come first and then one can work well. I’ve been told I'm a mindful person by nature, and “feeling good” is my foundation to a good day’s work. As a business owner there are continuous challenges and heavy workloads, but I know when I follow my routine around wellness it is key to my productivity which in turns brings a great feeling of satisfaction.
Was owning a hotel always your dream, and how does the reality live up to expectations?
Yes, it was always a dream and I do believe dreams come true. Believe it, trust in oneself and it will happen. I’ve always had great belief and faith in my own vision and while the road has taken many turns, there’s always a path to the destination. It has exceeded my expectations. Tourism and hospitality is an exciting industry that affords me great opportunities to travel, be surrounded by great food, and meet an amazing, diverse range of people.
No. 1 Pery Square – a former hostel – opened just before the global economy crashed, and after an 18-month delay. More recently, the pandemic decimated the hospitality industry. What kept you going through the dark times?
The hotel’s initial development involved so much anticipated excitement it far outweighed that the Irish and world economy was about to burst. We opened in December 2008 and shortly after it quickly became obvious the banking crisis was causing an international economic crisis and the Celtic Tiger had died. The business was new and we focused all our efforts on our people and our guests. Taking great care of each and every guest is our mantra, and I still believe good word of mouth is the best marketing.
The pandemic came at a time when our business was healthy, well developed, had strong occupancy and was most importantly profitable. This gave me the comfort factor to take the time to pause and reset, revisit our business strategy and objectives. Time is precious. The pandemic afforded me personal time with my family and also lengthy downtime to allow me to focus on the next chapter for my business without operational distractions and other day-to-day things that tend to take priority.
We all love a good night’s sleep, and hotel beds and fine bedding, are widely considered to be the ultimate in luxury. What in-room luxuries do you look forward to when you check into a hotel?
Oh, the bed is the most important. It still amazes me how may accommodation providers do not invest that little bit more on a great bed and pillows. Also a guest room with natural light, an ability to open a window for fresh air. I personally love a nice bathroom with high quality bathing products (at No.1 we hand-make our own rosemary and lavender bath salts). I look forward to guest rooms that have a point of difference, are a little unique. I believe guests want to enjoy an experience relevant to the location, for a true sense of place.
Hoteliers rarely get downtime but where and when was your last truly mellow moment?
I have two, both very different. One, a sea dip in the west of Ireland just last week and last month a short break at Ballyfin in Co Laois. While time can be hard to carve, hoteliers are generally good to make the most of downtime. Work hard, play hard is a common motto.
Favourite hotel room of all time you’ve stayed in abroad?
La Villa Gallici, a gorgeous Relais & Château property in Aix-en-Provence. It’s just two hours from Shannon airport to Marseille, then a short transfer. It’s small, private, great food, decadent glamorous, authentic Provençal guest rooms. It has wonderful longstanding, welcoming, unpretentious staff and a superb breakfast that can be enjoyed in the garden or terrace.
What book(s) are on your nightstand?
So many I’m beginning to think I’m more of a collector rather than a reader! Breathpod by Stuart Sandeman, a great book by a great man who has taught me the value of breathwork to good health. I also have My Father’s House by Joseph O'Connor and Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. That’s just the bedside locker, many more on the desk waiting to be read…
Are you more a breakfast-in-bed person or do you prefer to feast in a hotel dining room?
No, I like to get up – a short walk outdoors first, to enjoy the morning daylight and feel ready for a great breakfast. I like to lounge over breakfast and enjoy it as much as a dinner dining experience. I like a breakfast with goodies from the locality. For me it’s more about quality rather than quantity so I’m not a fan of big buffets. Some can look well, and my kids love them, but they’re often made up of bought-in, non-fresh items and processed cereals rather than house-made goods. Ballymaloe has an amazing buffet which includes their own Jersey cow yoghurt that is simply divine.
What keeps you awake at night – and what puts a spring in your step each morning?
Failing to prepare for the day ahead will keep me awake. I need to do the “to do list” for the following day to ensure I know I can accomplish what I need to do and if not I have a contingency plan. My walk or morning class puts that spring in my step but neither can be done without a good night’s sleep which is the real secret to the spring in the step.
Imagine a much-anticipated Friday night in on your own. Your Moon + Mellow PJs are on and you have the TV – and couch – entirely to yourself. What is your go-to feel-good film, snack and refreshment and why?
I’m not a TV person but I did watch Emily in Paris while having covid two years ago and I loved it, so I guess a good chick flick. If it’s a winter evening, a nice glass of red wine with olives and cheese and good crackers. A summer’s evening I would prefer to sit out in the garden in the PJs and watch the sun go down. I love quiet time, it’s my luxury.
Who would be your top three celebrity pyjama party guests and what would your playlist involve?
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kate Middleton and Jennifer Lopez… purely just to hear all about their lives and interrogate them all, especially Kate on royal life. Playlists I am not good at but I’ve been listening a lot to Cat Stevens since his Glastonbury performance.
Which are your favourite Moon + Mellow pieces and why?
They are all so stylish and I love them all to be honest, but one of my favourite pairings is the leopard print sleeved cropped top and matching trousers – they give a really great feel-good factor, in fact I could lounge about all day in them. I also love the pockets and that they’re true to size.