a concierge for the rest of us


Here is a truth I learned from my uncle when we visited Budapest in 2001: If you go up to the Concierge desk at a fancy hotel and act as though you know what you’re doing, and as though you belong there, and have a right to be there, they will not ask you for your room number, and will, in all likelihood, act as though they are working for you just as though you were staying at the hotel. 

And then, just in the past year or two, I’ve discovered that one doesn’t have to sneak about.  They will do that even if they know that you spent the last night in a refrigerator carton under a bridge. You can be candid; you can tell them you are staying at the Red Bus Hostel spending about $3 per night and the airline has lost your bags and you need to have them delivered somewhere; or that you need the name of a reliable driver; or that you want a recommendation for a sightseeing tour; or that you are desperate for concert tickets.  And they’ll help you, most of the time, and the ones who won't help you would be snooty to a hotel guest too.

Be nice to them.  Tip them well.  Express your gratitude.  Don’t spoil it for the rest of us.  It’s a wonderful travelers’ resource, easily up there with the deployment of public wc’s.


If you travel by exchanging homes or renting apartments (as we do), the single thing you miss most is someone at the front desk ... someone who will be there to collect your luggage when the airline finally digs it out of the black hole in Milan to which it's been consigned with tens of thousands of identical courageous red bags whose destination labels have been shredded or besmirched...someone who knows where you can buy contact lens solution on a Sunday...