London at Park Lane: Defining the Future of the Concierge
At Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, the concierge team has been retooled to custom-design your very best experience of the British capital.
In the age of the Internet—when you can order your own theatre tickets and learn about local restaurants with online reviews—you might wonder if you really need a hotel concierge.
George Murray, head concierge of Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, says it’s just the opposite. “Today, when there’s so much information online and so many questionable sources, an expert concierge is more important than ever.”
To stay relevant, the approach of the concierge is evolving and transforming.
Ensuring a Perfect Hotel Arrival Experience
From their early days as experts with railway timetables and restaurant reservations, concierges have always held the keys to information. That’s why they wear a pair of golden keys on their jacket lapels—symbols of the international concierge society, Les Clefs d’Or.
But the concierge does much more than just handle guest enquiries. Typically the concierge oversees all aspects of the guest’s arrival experience.
In London, that means Murray is in charge of a team of 10 concierges, as well as six door staff and 13 guest service agents, handling everything from arranging car valet to luggage to ensure a warm, efficient welcome for every guest.
What Makes a Good Concierge?
A concierge for 30 years, Murray has a long history with Four Seasons, both in London and in Hampshire. Charming and effervescent, he can stay calm and unflappable in the face of hundreds of daily requests.
“The ideal concierge is naturally curious and observant,” Murray says. “When I walk around the city, I’m always noticing what’s new and what’s changed. You have to be genuinely interested in the world and eager to share what you know.”
You also need to be a good communicator. “Guests are relying on you for advice, so you need to have an open, honest manner, and you have to be able to build relationships quickly.”
Bringing Together the Right Concierge Team
For the new Four Seasons, Murray was determined to diversify the concierge team, adding female staff to what was previously an all-male bastion and seeking customer service experience outside of hospitality.
The team includes six senior concierges who are already well connected in London, along with four newer concierges who have backgrounds in theatre, retail, fashion and architecture.
“I want our concierges to reflect the widest spectrum of interests and knowledge, mixing tradition and innovation, so we’re offering the most current, most relevant perspective of London.”
Members of the concierge team are always communicating together about their latest experiences in the city—giving opinions on the newest plays, restaurants, shops, gallery shows—and writing reviews on their internal information system to share details with other team members.
They’re like editors or curators, covering the entire city. They can be relied on for the most insightful vision of what’s going on in London, while reflecting the level of quality that’s going to be appreciated by Four Seasons guests.
Concierge Personalises Recommendations
Murray tells the story of a guest running out the door, asking the concierge to book a table for two at an Italian restaurant at 8:00 pm. “There’s a lot of room for error in that kind of request. It’s up to the concierge to follow the guest out onto the street and get more specifics. Is the occasion romantic or business? Should it be trendy or formal? Northern Italian or southern Italian?”
As Murray says, “Only when you fully understand the guest and the situation can you make an appropriate recommendation. We’re not just giving advice on what’s best; it’s what’s best for you as an individual.”
Planning itineraries with the concierge now often begins by e-mail, well in advance of the guest’s arrival.
For a first-time visitor, Four Seasons can put together a three-day introduction, covering the classic attractions of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the houses of Parliament. It’s even possible to arrange private, after-hours tours behind the scenes at landmarks such as the Cabinet War Rooms and Stonehenge.
For guests who come to London regularly, Four Seasons can show them what’s new and still under the radar.
Concierges can arrange guided tours to cater to specific individual interests. For example, a local artist can give you a first-hand look inside the hottest galleries of Soho, or a fashion stylist can lead you to the edgiest shops in Hoxton and Shoreditch.
The concierge team brings such a depth of contacts and resources that they can make almost anything possible, extending the Four Seasons experience through the entire city.
To be among the first to experience the new Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, take advantage of special opening rates.
Next, we’ll go behind the scenes to learn the secret of how Four Seasons delivers its acclaimed standard of guest service.