By: Shelby Thompson
In New York City, the hotel concierge holds all the power. They know the neighborhood, they can give away discounts to guests and they can get you past even the tightest doormen at the hottest clubs and restaurants.
Years ago, I worked as a marketing assistant at a famous historic hotel. This job wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it introduced me to the insider knowledge of the hospitality industry. I learned invaluable secrets of the hotel trade that have turned me into a great traveler, who knows the right questions to ask before and during any trip.
Four Rooms suggests that the Bell Hop is your best ally, but I say skip the Bell Hop and go right to the concierge if you want a trusted and solid opinion. The main objective of a concierge is to make you feel happy and welcome, just keep in mind they might push a specific locations if they get a kick back for sending tourists to neighboring business– and trust me – they do. Here are a few ways to navigate New York City on your next visit, using the help of your local concierge.
Getting Around Town: The best way to explore a new city, especially one as vast as New York, is to find out how your concierge gets around. If you and your party are heading to a pre-determined restaurant or theater date, ask the concierge if they think you would be better suited to take public transportation, a cab or some other means. You could not only get to your destination more quickly, but you could save some major bucks over the course of your trip.
Traveling in Groups: Rest assured your concierge knows everything about your group already. If you are traveling in a pack, it is best to have one or two main contacts for the concierge to connect with on a personal level. Too many people can be overwhelming and won’t convey the message that you are interested in anything the concierge has already planned on sharing with your group. Plus, if you are in charge of events, the concierge will do all the hard work of arranging your reservations, tickets or anything else you may need, and often times at a discount rate. You can take all the credit for being so organized and finding a great deal, and your group will appreciate the effort. Be sure to thank the concierge for these extra efforts too.
Traveling Solo: A business trip or single get-away more your speed? Ask the concierge specific questions that cater to your taste. Concierges are like bartenders, they want details to make your stay just right. Questions like, “What’s your favorite restaurant/bar/dessert place” are too vague. Add details to help narrow the scope of your desire and the concierge will not only get you to a personal favorite, but also hit you in that soft spot of exactly what you crave.
City Highlights: If you are a New York first timer you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the choices of things to see. Ask for recommendations for the best view in the City. Likely, they will lead you to a rooftop. Is there a bar up there? Even better. If descriptions like “unbelievable”, “blow your mind”, and “killer” are included in your concierge’s vocabulary, these places are definitely worth checking out.
Dining Tips: Some people ask the front desk about food options while checking in, but it is actually more advantageous to ask the concierge. Does the hotel have a restaurant? While it may seem like a scheme to push sales, at least give the menu a once over and check out the ratings doled out by restaurant guides. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had have been at a hotel restaurant.
If you’re still not sold on the idea of eating in the hotel, ask about personal favorites and must-haves. If the concierge says something like, “I’m not sure if we can get you in at this hour”, reassure them that you are flexible, and indirectly suggest it is a special occasion, and you would really appreciate anything they could do for you. This gentle nudge just might get you an impossible-to-get reservation. Be sure you are genuinely polite or even a great tip might not get you in anywhere.
Extra Tips: Not sure where to start on any of this? Your concierge is happy to help you plan a day or two (or more) exploring the city based on your budget and wishes. Again, be explicit in your travel needs and your concierge will find a way to meet them all.