Who are these concierges we keep hearing about lately ?
Most people have never heard of a hotel concierge. However, for the last couple of years we’ve been seeing them more and more. The concierge service is offered within many trades: hotels, airports, shopping malls … Nowadays you can even spot concierges working along car dealers and insurance companies.
Let’s go back in time to find out about the history of concierges.
If we go back as far as the Roman Empire, we will find the first form of public hospitality and thus a concierge service. At the time, concierges were in charge of greeting, and ensuring security and well-being of their guests. An interesting fact: this role was originally held by slave. The word Concierge comes from “conservius” which is comprised of the latin words “cum” which means “with” and “servos” which means “slave”.
We hear again about concierges in the 10th century in France. It was then a title “Comte des Cierges” (roughly translated as “master of candles or lighting). This role was given to important royal officers in charge of logistics and supplies in castles, notably keeping the castle lit. We also find one of these magistrates in the Royal “Palais de la cité” named “La Conciergerie” back in the XIIth century. (do not miss it if you are traveling to Paris!)
Now that we know a bit of history, what does a concierge do at a hotel ?
He/she is an expert of service, from greeting the guests to ensuring their well-being all along their stay.
See the concierge as your ultimate insider guide in an unknown city. They can recommend the best bakery or the first-class suit tailor. You can ask them the impossible, their network is limitless. A reservation at the-three months-waitlist Michelin star restaurant? done. A date with Beyonce? That could also be arranged! They will make sure you have the best luxurious experience during your stay in and outside of the hotel.
As well as his extensive knowledge of the city, region and country, they will be able to recommend the newest exhibitions and even organise private gallery viewings. Fancy just a chat? You can talk with them about politics, geography, culture, fashion or sports. They always have something to say, no matter the subject.
The concierge’s main strength is the ability to cater to your very specific needs while staying extremely discreet.
Les clefs d’or — The golden keys
In the beginning of the 20th century in Paris, Pierre Quentin and his colleagues, hotel concierges and doormen set up a camaraderie. Their goal was to help each other in their diverse challenges through service & friendship. The movement grew and in 1929 Ferdinand Gillet created the first association known as “Les Clefs d’Or France” meaning “The Golden keys France”
You can easily recognise the members of the association as they proudly wear the crossed golden keys on the lapels of their suit jackets.
The clefs d’Or are chosen with an extreme exigence. The members of the association are said to be the elite of the profession.
The society is now present in over 50 countries with over 4000 members.
How to make the most out of your concierge ?
Remember that the society was created by people with a common interest: a shared profession and the will to offer their guest the best service possible and a most exceptional stay.
The truth is, most people do not take advantage of hotel concierges and it is probably because they do not even know the purpose of the concierge service and and how they can help. It comes down to this: the concierge is here for you and you should not hesitate to contact them.
Hotel concierges do not operate in all types of hotels; They are present mostly in 4 & 5 stars hotels. But even if you are not a regular client of luxury hotels, if you happen to be at one for a business trip or an anniversary weekend (or any exceptional circumstance) do not be scared to talk to the concierge!
They can provide an outstanding service and can really make a difference to your experience for each and every of your needs but you can of course solicit them for simple questions such as finding the metro. They will always have a map ready to show you the surroundings and give you great recommendations.
Even if you are a regular and you believe that you travel so often that you know the places you are visiting like the back of your hand, concierges have years of experience, tons of insider knowledge, and can still enhance your stay more than you could imagine. They can offer you a special trip off the beaten path.
Last piece of advice
Even if you are a sceptic and you believe that you can find everything on the internet (which may be true) how do you judge good from bad in this information overload?
Just don’t! Whenever you are visiting a hotel go introduce yourself to the concierge and let him take care of you and make your stay unforgettable!
Adrien Maltese, concierge and founder of Jana Concierge Tool.