There’s nothing better than a front-row seat at your favorite band’s concert—unless you could have an autographed album from the band. Austin Simmons, the concierge at Austin’s Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt, made it happen for a couple of lucky guests.
A hotel concierge is a valuable resource for dinner reservations or tickets to the big show, but their true talents go beyond that—your concierge most likely knows someone in behind-the-scenes at the venue or at the hottest new restaurant. The best concierges embody the cities they work in, and embrace showing off what makes their city special, whether it’s Austin’s music scene or beaches in Santa Barbara.
While staying at the Van Zandt, a guest approached Austin to ask if there was anything he could do to make his upcoming marriage proposal extra special.
“The guest told me that they had met at a Toadies concert and were coming into town for their big show,” Austin said. “I contacted the band’s manager and arranged a time to stop by their sound check.” Austin had the band sign a copy of the couple’s favorite album, along with a congratulatory note. “I had it placed in the room with a bottle of champagne for after the show. Of course she said ‘yes’!”
“That’s always my goal,” explains Austin, who adds that he doesn’t look at his job as a way to earn kickbacks from restaurants or tours. “When a guest asks for a recommendation, I strive to make their whole trip.”
Your concierge could even bring the concert to you. Lea Sindija is the on-site record concierge at The Kimpton Goodland in Santa Barbara, Calif., where she creates a custom playlist for each guest’s stay, thanks to the surfer-chic hotel’s 1,000-plus vinyl record collection.
Every room at The Goodland has a Crosley record player, and Lea typically takes the time to research a guest’s taste in music, often through social media, before they arrive. “I’ll curate a record selection for their room based on that,” Lea says, adding that she can usually find the perfect Beach Boys album to set the ideal SoCal mood. Guests can dive further into the listening experience, and even grab a souvenir, at The Goodland’s own eponymous record store.
“I love the way guests interact with one another based on records they select,” Lea says. “It adds to the overall experience we want them to have at our hotel.”
Of course, some of our concierges go beyond just recorded words. Kevin Rountree, a concierge at the Kimpton Eventi Hotel in New York City, helped one guest pull off the proposal of a lifetime.
When the guest let Kevin know that his girlfriend had a manuscript she was hoping to publish, Kevin used that information to create a truly unique proposal. The couple had plans to visit Brooklyn, so Kevin suggested that the proposal happen in a small bookshop in the Cobble Hill neighborhood, an idyllic area of tree-lined streets and classic brownstones. After creating a mock book of the woman’s manuscript, Kevin put the tome onto a shelf and waited for the couple to enter. As the soon-to-be bride peeked through a selection of books, she saw her book front and center on the shelf. She snatched her book and began reading, only to glance up and to see her boyfriend on bended knee. “This is what I want our life to be like,” he said. “All of our dreams coming true.”
Fellow Kimpton concierges across the country have similar passions beyond just music and literature, including if you’re on the hunt for a beachfront sunrise yoga class or the perfect morning run in Miami, where night owls seem to rule the roost.
Our concierges help visitors to their cities discover places that TripAdvisor and Google can’t, and are your go-to for finding more out-of-the-way activities around town. Concierges love making the unexpected happen—all you have to do is ask.
— Ryan Smith
Ryan is New York-based freelance writer and photographer. He has worked in the hotel and restaurant industry for nearly a decade. His work has appeared in the New York Times, GOTHAM Magazine, Eater, Elle Korea, Selectism, Food & Wine, InStyle.com, and more.