I’m a hotel concierge in New York. My typical morning, say from 8 to 11, is nonstop talking to people from all over the world. I would say it’s 70 percent Europeans that I deal with right now. It’s a constant case of the messenger getting shot. These Eurotrash, they come in and they have these big aviator sunglasses on, and these big Louis Vuitton belt buckles and Christian Audigier all over them, and they think they’re all big shots and they ask for the price of a theater ticket, and you say $180 and they freak out. Everything is expected to be free — you’re paying $200 a night for a hotel so, they want to know, why isn’t everything free? Internet, breakfast, they all want free. And the tours, they ask why do you have to go to a meeting stop? Why can’t they pick you up? And I have to explain that they can’t stop at all the hotels and then they get mad.
The Europeans, they all want to go to the Jersey Shore because they’ve seen Jersey Shore. They’re all into that culture and they look like Vegas guidos, except they’re from Spain and Italy and they’re always the most hair-gelled, craziest-looking people. I just say it’s two-and-a-half hours away, rent a car and drive if you really want to go. I’m like do you think you’re going to go down there and get laid by the Situation? It’s not going to happen. You would think someone could make a lot of money running shuttles down to the Shore. No one that I know of has actually gone. I always manage to convince them to go to Long Beach [on Long Island]. There are girls whose dreams have been crushed when I tell them they can’t go to the Jersey Shore. I haven’t seen tears but girls have been very upset.
And they all want to go to strip malls in New Jersey. I say you can go to the same stores in Herald Square in the city, but for some reason they’re obsessed with New Jersey and they’re obsessed with the shopping mall format. Older Europeans — more like middle-aged women, middle-aged couples — they’re all looking for Wal-Mart, and we don’t have Wal-Mart in the city.
They also have warped images from Sex and the City. I already sold four Sex and the City tours today. These Sex and the City tours go twice a day and they always sell out. They always want the cupcakes, they ask about Magnolia Bakery, they want to know where Carrie’s stoop is (even though she lived on the East Side, it’s actually in the West Village). They want to know where the Friends stoop is, the Friends house. A bunch of people ask about Central Perk. They ask about Friends or Seinfeld and you’re like, they’re filmed in L.A. And that’s always heartbreaking to them, when they find out it doesn’t exist.
People don’t always realize concierges are really salesmen in disguise. You have to keep a smile on your face, but you have your bottom lines to meet. We get paid a salary but depending on where you’re working you could get a cut for everything you sell, or you could have goals where you get an incentive for, say, selling x amount of tours today. The other concierge secret is we don’t suggest restaurants because they’re the best restaurants — we suggest them because the concierge is going to get $5 or $8 a head or 10 percent of the check. There’s this Italian restaurant we get kickbacks from, and you say “This place is great, the pasta’s great, it’s homemade” — but what pasta isn’t homemade? And then they come back raving over how good it is.
With these fancy restuarants and the nightclubs, they don’t understand why we don’t really have pull there, and it’s like, the reason these clubs are trendy is because they don’t let you in. The reason it’s a popular club is they don’t let a tourist cut the line.
Also I definitely get requests for drugs and prostitutes. A common practice in hotels is when people are asked about drugs — especially cocaine — you send them to a doorman, who then gets them what they want. I’m not in a hotel where it’s like that. I would never assist in anything like that, but I’ve worked in hotels where it was common knowledge that you can tell them to speak to the doorman.
If they’re asking about prostitutes, I refer them to the back of the Village Voice. Because I’m not getting involved in that. Men who typically ask about that I would say are older, fatter, balder gentlemen.
There was a hooker running business out of our hotel. She was kicked out because they realized what she was doing. She rented a room because our rooms are cheap, and she’d have Johns coming up all day.
You see a lot of mistresses. I find that at nicer hotels I’ve seen some repeat cheaters and it’s always with a different girl. It’s always the same business-type guy and he’s got his mistress. This one guy told the front desk if anyone ever calls for me here, say I’m never here, I’m always out, and sure enough his wife was trying to call. So just that stuff was kind of crazy. But a lot of sex goes down in the hotels. You get people who come in saying, do you have hourly rates? No. We don’t.
As told to Amy Odell.
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