Don’t forget about the hotel concierge…

When Covid hit, hotels around the world trimmed down their offerings and services, including their concierges…a free service people so often forget to use and one I, too, had gotten out of the habit of leveraging. 

Prior to Covid, I would always contact my hotel concierge desk before a visit to a new destination to ask for recommendations on restaurants, activities and tour guides, but I had gotten out of the habit simply because there didn’t seem to be one available (or on staff). Levering the concierge was always a huge stress reliever for me when visiting a new destination. After all, a hotel concierge is local with tons of insider knowledge and tips – things you may or may not learn by reading through travel blogs and Instagram hashtags. With years of experience and an extensive local network concierge can snag reservations and tickets you might not be able to score, not to mention being able to give you tips on how to navigate your way around the area.

Thankfully, the hotel concierge is back! 

The decline in concierges has reversed, according to Travel Weekly’s interview with Les Clefs d’Or,  a well-known association of hotel concierges who said they saw a 53% increase in member applications from 2021 to 2022. The number also increased in 2023, with expectations to do the same in 2024. 

On my last two international trips it was the hotel concierges who helped me book some of the most memorable experiences from wine tastings with my kids in Rioja to visiting the Cambridge American Cemetery to “visit” my husband’s grandfather…and so much more. In Boston, we discovered the BEST lobster rolls and lobster bisque at The Barking Crab and a tucked-away oyster bar locals flock to. And, in London the concierge at the St. Ermin’s hotel saved the trip. Between moving houses and getting my kids back to school the trip to London snuck up on me. I had TWO WEEKS to plan our Thanksgiving break in London.

It was during my visit to London and the last minute (two weeks out) Thanksgiving Day dinner reservation that I and my travel agent friend couldn’t score that I was reminded of the valuable of a concierge. A quick email to the concierge desk at the St. Ermin’s hotel and 20 minutes later they had the reservation booked at the time I had requested. With only two weeks before Thanksgiving, that was a huge accomplishment! I then tapped them for a tour guide who could help me with a few private activities we wanted to do as a family. Within the day I had the rest of my itinerary planned. Even better, each of the activities and tour guides were outstanding and added so much value to our short but sweet adventures in London. 

What is a Concierge (and how to pronounce it)

If you’ve wondered how to pronounce concierge, phonetically it’s “kaan-see-ehrzh.” As for what they do, like the hotel front desk, a concierge is the face of the hotel, yet with the added perk of helping guests with setting up local experiences and enjoying the destination. From setting restaurant reservations, tours, and spa services to finding small, locally loved restaurants and kid-friendly activities to even helping with flights and transfer needs…and last-minute medical needs. They are your local expert who can and should be able to answer – or find an answer – for most of a guest’s needs. Sometimes they will help guests build their itinerary or simply provide direction on things to do. They’re not a magician, though, so keep your requests realistic in terms of timing the ask.

Concierges in Wine Country 

When it comes to visiting wine country, a hotel concierge can be your biggest advocate. I have met and worked with so many fabulous wine tour operators based on recommendations from concierges. Mind you these guides are likely not on TripAdvisor – they don’t need to be with concierge recommendations – so you won’t likely be able to read past customer reviews. If the concierge is recommending restaurants, tour guides, or activities during your stay, you should definitely take them up on it or at least look into them. These aren’t necessarily the things listed on their website but rather in an email, phone conversation, or in-person conversation. 

Things a Hotel Concierge Can Do for You

  • Setup up transfer services, a simple taxi to the museum to airport transfers
  • Help you secure tickets to shows and events
  • Help with special events – from birthday celebrations to wedding proposals and more. 
  • Assist with travel situations such as canceled or delayed flights 
  • If you lose a passport or other valuable item, they can assist in getting you to the right resources
  • Custom itineraries
  • Guests with special needs can leverage concierges for services at the hotel as well as information on the best ways to get around the city. 
  • A concierge can help you find a babysitter…but they themselves are not babysitters 

Tips for Working with a Hotel Concierge

Don’t be afraid to ask. The concierge isn’t just for the big business executive or Prada wearing family. 

Tips are not expected but they are appreciated. If a concierge is helping you with something huge like a wedding proposal or tickets to a sold out show, you should consider a little more than a “thank you”.

Guests only. Don’t call a hotel to ask their concierge for help if you’re not staying there. That’s just not cool. Be cool. 

Manners matter. Remember your manners and always say thank you. 

Provide feedback. If the experience they suggested was amazing, make sure to let them know. If it was terrible, they should also know to avoid making further recommendations. 

Give them some time to help you with your requests. Hotel concierge are not magicians, so keep your requests realistic in terms of timing the ask.

Elaine Schoch

Elaine N. Schoch

Elaine Schoch (pronounced the German way – Shock) is the editor and founder of Carpe Travel as well as an award-winning travel writer, wine judge, certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 and certified American Wine Expert. She is married to The Husband and has two kids, Princess One and Two – who’s interest and knowledge in wine is quite extensive. Not to mention the stamps in their passports.