Lauren Stenzel first visited The St. James Tearoom in 2003 after relocating from Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the time she didn’t know anything about the Tearoom. “It was at this time that an acquaintance took me to the St. James. It changed my life. I was immediately enchanted with the environment and grace that embodies the lifestyle of afternoon tea,” Lauren said.
At the time, The St. James Tearoom was only a few years old and nestled into its Old Town Albuquerque location. The life that Mary Alice, the proprietress of The St. James Tearoom, brought to that space was enough to inspire Lauren, and she immediately found a passion for the clothing, décor, and lifestyle of Victorian times. Slowly over time her outfits paired with hats, her home with era-accurate furniture and art.
“I met Mary Alice on my third or fourth visit,” Lauren said. “She only served to inspire me further, and I wished to emulate her in every way. It was shortly thereafter that I started bringing anyone and everyone to the Tearoom who would be willing to join me. I explained to them that it was an environment where they would learn the lost art of conversation, as well as a place to rediscover grace and civility.” The concepts of grace and civility began influencing Lauren’s lifestyle choices, rather than the more superficial attraction of mere aesthetics.
Although Lauren moved away from New Mexico, she continued nourishing her enthusiasm for tea through many visits to tearooms around the world. She never felt as at home at any of them as she did at St. James, however, despite her many experiences. “I have been to tearooms in New Orleans, Las Vegas, London, and even the famed Empress Tearoom in Canada,” Lauren said. “All of these experiences paled in comparison with St. James.” That was perhaps one of the reasons she was so thrilled to be able to share the St. James experience with her husband, John, when they were attending a wedding nearby in Colorado. “Indoctrinating my husband to the experience was of special joy to me as I knew he would fall in love with it just as I had.” And he did.
For Lauren and John, The St. James Tearoom is a place to find refuge, a respite and retreat from pressing demands of daily life. “I believe the world needs a place like the St. James, and it is my fervent wish that this special place continues with its prime purpose of being a catalyst for change in our society. In a world of fast-pace cell phones, cars, emails and texts, it is imperative now more than ever.”
What is your St. James story? We love to hear how the Tearoom impacts the lives of our guests. Tell us yours any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll help inspire others with what St. James is to you and have a chance to be featured in our blog. We can’t wait to hear from you!