Confessions of a Hotel Concierge
Concierges are like modern-day fairy godmothers. They’ll score you orchestra seats at a top broadway show, get you a hard-to-book restaurant reservation, and search the city to find you the perfect white pony!? We sat down with three of New York’s best ⎯ The Carlyle's Waldo Hernandez, The Surrey's Lorena Ringoot and The Mark's Isabelle Hogan ⎯ to get the scoop.
So tell us, what’s the real benefit of using a hotel concierge?
What we offer is not in the guidebooks. You’re dealing with an expert who knows the ins and outs of a city, so you’re going to get the local’s perspective on what to see and do instead of mainstream spots you could read about anywhere. —WH
How do you stay so plugged-in?
I attend premiere parties and exclusive events almost every day after work, and on average, I go to one broadway show and at least three new restaurants a week. On my off-days, I explore up-and-coming neighborhoods and attractions, so I have the best insight for my clients. —WH
Ok, dish. What’re the hottest spots in NYC right now?
I recently went to Kappo Masa, and it was some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. I’d also recommend shopping at the new flagship Barneys store in Chelsea, which just opened last week, or seeing modern art at the Met Breuer museum, coming March 18. —LR
What’s your secret to getting last-minute broadway tickets or a table at a five-star restaurant?
We build strong relationships with the maître d’s and general managers to get our guests in, and we all have our go-to ticket brokers to arrange killer seats for shows (yes, even Hamilton). —WH
Besides invites to openings, operas, etc., what are the best perks?
This job connects you to a lot of people in the hospitality industry so when you travel, it’s carte blanche. I can go to Paris, Italy, Australia, or anywhere in the world, and the concierges give me the best insider recommendations and hook me up with rare experiences. They really roll out the red carpet. —WH
Describe the craziest request you’ve had on the job.
A guest once asked me to buy his wife a pony for her birthday! So I called several stables and barns to track down the cutest white horse. There was no price limit, by the way. Then, I bought a pony-themed cake and decorations for her party. —LR
I once escorted a Saudi princess on an eight-hour shopping spree in Manhattan for her 16th birthday. Her father had given her a bodyguard, a stretch limo and a briefcase filled with $100,000 in cash. At the end of the day, she was unhappy because she didn’t spend it all, and had about $20,000 left! The funniest thing is, she bought the same clothes just in different colors. —IH
Have you ever been asked to do the impossible?
I’ve had a few people want me to call an airline, tell them they’re running late and make them hold the plane. Let’s just say, it’s never worked out. —WH