Often when entering a hotel one can feel a little overwhelmed by the impressive lobby, frantic reception team with a queue of guests waiting to check out or the grumpy concierge who you don’t want to bother as they seem preoccupied trying to secure a dinner reservation for an important guest and not really getting anywhere… not so at The Chesterfield Mayfair!
A sense of calm and unhurried attention is immediately evident from the moment you walk through the door, it’s smiles all round and warm greetings from the well turned out team behind the front desk that make you feel very much at ease and amongst friends. Probably the brightest smile of all, and certainly the most captivating comes from Assistant Concierge Chris Campbell who is eager to assist new guests as well as bid a fond farewell to those departing. It’s Chris I have come to meet and he has already bowled me over with his demeanour and very likeable character, I am really looking forward to getting to know him and delving into the unknown world of the concierge.
The word concierge originates from French, meaning “keeper of the keys”, originally referring to the literal holding of keys to a stately home or large building, as the role of the concierge has grown the meaning now refers to the holding of the secrets of the local area. The foremost requirement for the concierge is an indepth knowledge of the area with a passion for discovering the best spots suited to their guests needs and making sure they have the ability to obtain any request.
Throughout an average day Chris tells me he finds himself assisting guests with directions around London to make them feel like locals rather than tourists, working his contacts to get an extra table squeezed in to seat guests at a top restaurant and charming the theatres for last minute tickets to London’s West End Shows.
Chris takes great pride in personally sampling the finest restaurants in the area or the latest West End theatre smash in order to provide the best possible advice to guests and visitors to the hotel and the city, some may see this simply as a “perk” of the job but Chris is professional to the nth degree, taking extensive notes on his experience and getting to know the right people at the venue to ensure a seamless booking for his guests. He fondly recalls his favourite restaurant in Mayfair (besides Butler’s of course); the Michelin starred Greenhouse Restaurant on Hays Mews just around the corner from the hotel, serving contemporary French cuisine, and smacks his lips as he describes the spicy Black pudding which accompanies the white Herefordshire pork – perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea for sure but his animated description is beginning to win me over – I now will have to try it for myself.
One of the highlights of Chris’s career, he tells me, was his first trip to see The Lion King on stage. A great lover of this Disney classic, and having watched the DVD a hundred times, he was full to bursting with excitement when he was invited to the show with his wife and children. He was overjoyed by the performance, as were his kids, it even brought tears to his eyes! Of course now, whenever families are staying at the hotel, he practically insists they see this show together claiming it to be one of life’s most memorable moments for young children (and their parents).
So far I am thinking the life of a concierge is a charmed one but it’s not all fun and laughter, Chris is currently hoping to secure the pinnacle of concierge status when he will be interviewed by the Society of the Golden Keys in November and hopefully earn his “stripes” as an official concierge gaining the much coveted gold cross-keys pins, worn on either side of the lapel. Formed in Great Britain in 1952, The Society of the Golden Keys is part of the international and somewhat mysterious ‘Les Clefs D’Or’, whose members are acknowledged as having a wealth of “professional gravitas, integrity, local knowledge and impeccable recommendations“.
We wish Chris all the best and have every faith that next time we see him, he will be sporting his new pins… and we can’t think of anyone more deserving”
by Sasha Kerman