Make the concierge your friend
Of course there are Google Maps, numerous travel apps and lots of travel guides.
But a good concierge is irreplaceable.
An experienced concierge can open many doors, book a table in a trendy restaurant, get tickets for a concert and give valuable tips that will make your trip a special experience. Especially if you haven’t had much time to prepare for your trip yourself and your holiday calendar is not yet filled with restaurant bookings, theatre visits or museum hours.
Not all concierges have yet fallen victim to the austerity measures of large hotel chains. They still exist, the often grey-haired, experienced gentlemen in hotel uniforms, who look as if they have done nothing else all their lives.
If you are lucky enough to meet such an experienced concierge in your hotel, take advantage of his experience and knowledge of the place, for which you yourself may only have a few days.
Here are the most important tips on how to make the concierge your friend in a foreign country:
1. CHOOSE A GOOD TIME
The early morning is the worst possible time, because after breakfast there is usually a cluster of travellers around the concierge table, all of whom with little patience want to know the same thing: How does it go from here to the cathedral and where can I find the best shopping street?
It is better to find a quiet time, for example at noon or in the afternoon, when there is time for a longer conversation and you do not feel the breath of other travellers on your neck. It also makes sense to speak to the concierge before arriving at the hotel.
2. TELL ABOUT YOURSELF
Experienced concierges often have a very good knowledge of human nature and know how to assess who is standing in front of you. However, the concierge can be even more helpful to you if you tell him why you have just come to this city and what it is that you are looking for.
3. FORMULATE YOUR WISHES PRECISELY
Explain as precisely as possible which restaurant you are interested in. Should it be a small intimate restaurant with good regional cuisine or would you prefer to dine in the hippest restaurant in town? Are you looking for a quiet, authentic bar or would you like to see and be seen?
Explain that you are looking for an authentic district where time seems to stand still, or that you would like to get to know the district where young designers have just opened their shops, trendy coffee shops and small new restaurants.
The more precisely you describe your wishes, the better the concierge’s recommendation can be.
4. GIVE FEEDBACK
Yes, sometimes the concierge will send you to a restaurant owned by his cousin or to a shop from which he receives a commission. Anyway, you can be sure that in most cases it will be a good recommendation, because it is in the concierge’s interest that you are satisfied.
Not every restaurant is known to the concierge personally and the salaries of the hotel employees usually do not allow visits to expensive restaurants or bars. The concierge will therefore be pleased if you give him feedback afterwards on how you liked it and why.
5. DRINKING MONEY
It is not expected, but usually gratefully received. When booking theatre or concert tickets, a surcharge is usually paid to the concierge. Nevertheless, it is a nice gesture if you acknowledge the concierge’s achievement in organizing an unforgettable evening for you by giving a tip.
If you hand the tip over the counter with a small “Thank you note” in an envelope, it is often easier and more pleasant for both parties. If you plan to stay longer in one place, it makes sense to give the tip right at the beginning and to express that you were particularly satisfied with a tip from the concierge.