News / City Life

Things you only know if you’re a hotel concierge

David Haines, hotel concierge
Andy Parsons

…according to David Haines, 51.

There’s an actual secret society for hotel concierges…

‘Most concierges are part of The Society of the Golden Keys, which is made up of people from the hotel industry and associate members from, say, Heathrow Airport or Harrods. We network to get the best deals, so for most London attractions we can get tickets a lot cheaper than online, and help guests jump the queue.’

…and it’s not easy to join

‘You have to work as a uniformed concierge behind a desk for five years. You need someone to propose you and another to second; both parties then get interviewed by a panel, so you can’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.’

Some guests like to make an entrance

‘I work at the Park Plaza in Waterloo. Not long after it first opened, we had a wedding where the bridegroom came across Westminster Bridge on an elephant. It was really surprising. No one knew where to park it.’

Hotels are fairly relaxed about losing the odd bit of linen

‘We know it’s going to happen every now and then. Towels are probably the main thing people pinch. I think it’s because the hotel name is embroidered on them: people want a memento.’

If you’re after specialist milk, try the zoo

‘We once had a prince staying who wanted yak’s milk. This was before Google, so I phoned London Zoo to ask if they had any yaks. They didn’t, but one of the camel handlers had a friend in Saudi Arabia who had a yak farm, so we arranged to have the yak’s milk flown in. It cost about £35 per day for a small vial, and he had it every day for three months!’

Ready to check in? Here’s your ultimate guide to hotels in London.

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