Five hotels that go the extra mile

By default, top hotels should offer good service: from arranging dinner reservations, to recommending the best nearby attractions to visit. But some creative concierge teams are prepared to go that extra mile in making the seemingly impossible a reality

W, Hong Kong

It wasn’t until I set off to use the gym at W Hong Kong that I realised I’d left my training shoes at home. After sharing my story with a member of staff, the following day I found a pair of Nike trainers in an exact fit. (They checked the size of the shoes in my room.) It’s not an isolated incident though; plenty more hotels have gone to similar lengths to please their clientele. Here are some of the most impressive anecdotes I’ve encountered on my travels.

Hotel Le Bristol, Paris

Most little girls want to be treated like a princess, and on their birthday it’s permissible to indulge such desires. The concierge team at Hotel Le Bristol in Paris certainly thought so when they helped one young lady realise her ambition of being a member of royalty for the day. Head Concierge Sonia Papet and her team arranged for the little girl to have an extravagant afternoon tea in her suite followed by a tour of Paris in a Cinderella carriage. She says, “organising such a dream-come-true fairytale for this little girl was absolutely amazing. It was a total surprise for her birthday. She was filled with happiness – her eyes wide open with amazement. It was such a joy for us as concierges to turn a simple moment into a fantastic memory that she will never forget.”

Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island, Jamaica

Bad weather can more than dampen a holiday spirit, but a butler at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort was determined not to let a few drops of rain spoil one couple’s romantic plans. When their candlelit beach dinner was called off, Bernard Burnett set about arranging an alternative treat. While they were having a spa treatment, he layered the floor of their suite with plastic bags and covered it with sand, then hung glow-in-the-dark stars from the ceiling, placed palm trees around the room and organised for the hotel chef to deliver a three-course meal. They arrived back to find the table set and a CD of ocean sounds playing on the stereo – their room had been magically transformed into an indoor beach.

Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, St Petersburg

Harking back to a nostalgic era of travel, train stations can be romantic places. One man was determined to give his girlfriend an elaborate surprise when her train pulled into St Petersburg. So, he asked the concierge at Grand Hotel Europe to help him arrange for Ballad About Love, by Russian singer Vladimir Vysotsky, to be played on the station’s tannoy system. Unfortunately the technology was too out-dated to read the music file, so with just 15 minutes to spare, concierge Mary Lichitskaya dashed around town frantically trying to find a dictaphone to download the song to. As the train pulled in, the song started to play and the guest’s girlfriend couldn’t believe her ears.

The Goring, London

The concierge team at The Goring in London has won various hospitality awards, and an excellent level of service can be expected from all members of staff. Head Doorman, Peter Sweeney, who has been working at the hotel for almost five decades, prides himself in never forgetting a face. When one guest returned to the hotel after some years, he was amazed to find a pair of lost gloves in his room along with a note from Peter. He’d left them behind on a previous visit but had moved house soon after so staff were unable to track him down. Peter, though, had kept the gloves safe, just in case the guest decided to return to the hotel one day.

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